For as long as history has been recorded, honey has played a central and valued role in human health, healing and nutrition. In addition to enhancing the taste of foods and beverages, honey was favored by the Sumerians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans – among other ancient cultures – to treat wounds, burns, fevers and diseases of the gut, among other ailments. With the advent of antibiotics in the 1960s, honey was generally dismissed as a “worthless but harmless substance.” However, the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance has revived interest in the use of honey, both as an effective agent in its own right and as a therapeutic lead to develop new treatment modalities.
Today, honey is widely touted as one of the great ‘superfoods’ – those being nutritionally dense foods thought to be extraordinarily good for one’s health.
However, as ‘super’ as honey is, not all honey is created equal.
While the powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties of honey have been well documented by the scientific community in virtually thousands of medical research studies, articles and papers, the more exotic Manuka Honey is widely viewed as an ‘elite’ variety of honey due to its notably high concentrations of methylglyoxal (MGO) and other important vitamins and enzymes. In fact, Manuka Honey boasts up to 100-fold higher MGO than the conventional honey purchased in the grocery store.
Regular honey is produced by bees that pollinate clover, sunflower, buckwheat and other common plants; whereas Manuka Honey is produced by bee colonies that pollinate the manuka plant – also known as a tea tree (Leptospermum Scoparium), which is strictly indigenous to New Zealand and certain parts of Australia. Additionally, regular honey is subject to greater processing and endures a heating process that strips many of honey’s key enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
By comparison, Manuka Honey undergoes very little processing and is strictly monitored to ensure its purity. Each jar of authentic Manuka Honey contains a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) number, affirming that the honey is 100% genuine and has been scientifically tested to determine and confirm its purity. Typically, the UMF rating ranges from 5+ to 24+. A higher UMF grade indicates greater concentration of the Manuka Honey’s nutritional attributes and the purer the honey is. To be considered potent enough to be deemed therapeutic, Manuka Honey requires a minimum of 10 UMF.
The actual UMF grade designations are as follows:
- Certified Authentic – UMF 5+ to UMF 9+
- Premium Grade – UMF 10+ to UMF 15+
- Ultra-Premium Grade – UMF 15+ UMF 20+ and above
- Superior Rare High Grade – UMF 24+
The UMF grading system was developed by the UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) in New Zealand, which grants UMF licenses to Manuka Honey manufacturers who must meet their rigorous standards. Labs certified to test Manuka Honey and authorized to issue UMF designations seek to confirm the presence of the following key compounds:
- Leptosperin: a natural occurring chemical found only in the nectar of manuka plants. It is the first of several Manuka-specific chemical markers used to identify Manuka Honey for authenticity and labelling purposes.
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): a natural occurring compound that gives Manuka Honey its unique antibacterial properties. MGO content can range from 0 mg/kg to 1000 mg/kg. Anything higher than 100 mg/kg is considered antibacterial, although the higher the concentration, the more antibacterial activity. MGO is also resistant to heat, body fluids, light and enzymatic activity, therefore its potential benefits are very stable and potentially superior to the hydrogen peroxide-producing glucose oxidase enzyme found in all honeys.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): in 2009, scientists at the University of Waikato in New Zealand published research that showed that the MGO in Manuka Honey originates from the chemical compound DHA, which is present in the nectar of manuka flowers to varying degrees. According to Analytica Laboratories, an New Zealand-based independent testing facility certified by the UMFHA to test and confirm the authenticity, quality and safety of honey, reported, “As the methylglyoxal (MGO) in honey is created over time from the interaction of the dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in the honey with various naturally-occurring proteins and amino acids, the maximum concentration of MGO in any particular sample of manuka honey can be indicated by its DHA concentration. All other things being equal, a manuka honey sample with a high DHA concentration has the potential to turn into a manuka honey with higher MGO concentration than a comparable manuka honey sample with a low DHA concentration.”
- 5-Hydroxymethyfurfural (HMF): an organic compound formed from reducing sugars in honey and various processed foods in acidic environments when they are heated through the “Maillard” reaction. HMF has been deemed a suitable indicator of honey quality. HMF is easily absorbed from food through the gastrointestinal tract and, upon being metabolized into different derivatives, is excreted via urine. Through scientific study, HMF has been found to be beneficial to human health by providing antioxidative, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypoxic, anti-sickling and anti-hypouricemic effects
MANUKA HONEY AND EVIDENCE-BASED HEALTH BENEFITS
It is non-debatable that Manuka Honey is a great source of vitamins and minerals, consisting of carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, phenolic and flavonoid compounds. As well as amino acids – the building blocks of protein, it also contains B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese.
Moreover, the vast body of scientific literature reflects innumerable studies arguing the many evidenced-based health benefits of honey – and Manuka Honey, in particular. Ailments effectively impacted by the use of Manuka Honey include allergies, colds and flus, gingivitis, sore throats, staph infections and a wide range of wounds. It has also been found to allegedly “boost energy, detox your system, lower cholesterol, stave off diabetes, improve sleep, increase skin tone, reduce hair loss and even prevent frizz and split ends,” according to one article published on TheConversation.com.
All conjecture and wishful thinking aside, Manuka Honey has been scientifically tested against a diverse range of microbes, particularly those that cause wound infections, and one study showed that it inhibits problematic bacterial pathogens, including superbugs that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Manuka Honey can also disperse and kill bacteria living in biofilms (communities of microbes notoriously resistant to antibiotics), including those that cause painful strep throat and dangerous staph infections.
The spectrum of activity of Manuka Honey toward non-bacterial pathogens is yet to be well established. However, recent studies examining the antiviral effect of Manuka Honey have suggested it has potential for treatment of varicella-zoster virus (the cause of chicken pox and shingles).
There is even an early investigative study showing that Manuka Honey might protect from some side effects of radiation treatment to the head and neck, but other claims about its anti-cancer benefits have yet to be substantiated.
Another interesting study showed that honey proved more effective than cough medicine for reducing night-time coughs of children and improving their sleep. The National Institute for Care Excellence released new guidance in 2018 providing for the use of honey as a first-line treatment for reducing symptoms of a cough. The guidance applies to adults and children over the age of five.
When researchers analyzed six types of honey, they found that Manuka Honey contained the highest levels of antioxidant activity. In an interview with NetDoctor.com, Mike Wakeman, clinical nutritionist at Feel Alive, noted, “Manuka’s antibacterial potency comes from the fact it has a higher total number of phenolic compounds, which have an ability to scavenge superoxide free radicals.” Free radicals are credited for oxidative stress in the human body, causing cellular damage that contributes to rapid aging, as well as life threatening diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and stroke.
In people with cystic fibrosis, Manuka Honey has been shown to fight the bacteria that cause upper respiratory infections which bring on coughs, sore throats, stuffy or runny noses and sneezing. In another study, researchers found that patients undergoing chemotherapy for head and neck cancer also benefited from consuming Manuka Honey, which served to decrease levels of Streptoccous mutans, the bacteria responsible for sore throats.
In a 2016 rat study, researchers determined that the gastroprotective effects of Manuka Honey led to decreased concentration of inflammatory cytokines, helping to reduce or mitigate stomach ulcers. Manuka Honey has also been shown to reduce inflammation in rats with irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
When googling “scientific studies manuka honey,” search results yield 131,000 links to related peer-reviewed papers and articles. Generally speaking, sufficient evidence exists supporting the healing power of Manuka Honey and the vast range of indications relating to its intrinsic nutritional and therapeutic value. Moreover, from a consumer point of view, not only is Manuka Honey good for you, but it tastes great, too, offering a thicker, smoother and creamier tasting experience when compared to conventional honey.
CBD AND MANUKA HONEY, TOGETHER, PACK A POWERFUL PUNCH
Most hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, products for oral consumption available on the market have an overwhelming earthy, bitter taste that some observers suggest is reminiscent of chlorophyll, or grass. However, many producers of high quality CBD oil products are now infusing all-natural flavorings suitable for human consumption to considerably improve and enhance the taste of CBD. Ingredients such as organic peppermint, lemon and orange oils are often used for this purpose.
However, marrying Manuka Honey with CBD oil not only provides for a delicious tasting experience, masking any unpleasantness of the CBD with a sweet, nutty taste profile; it also combines Manuka Honey’s therapeutic benefits with many potential medicinal attributes of CBD.
Like Manuka Honey, there has been an extensive number of research studies conducted, identifying CBD as the component in Cannabis plants responsible for a large degree of its indicated medical benefits. Such benefits include acting in some experimental models as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, antiemetic and anxiolytic/antipsychotic agent – and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, pain/back pain, PMS and cramp relief, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and stress, and schizophrenia – among many other diseases and chronic conditions.
Several other studies have also demonstrated that CBD benefits also include possessing antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic effects that inhibit cancer cell migration, adhesion and invasion. Others have shown that CBD treatment significantly reduces the incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice and another showed that CBD protects the human heart from vascular damage caused by a high glucose environment, inflammation or the induction of type II diabetes.
While it is important to acknowledge that no company operating in the hemp-CBD industry is permitted to make therapeutic or medical claims when marketing their products without them first having been reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the FDA, it does not diminish the fact that a growing body of medical and scientific research is reflecting that there are a multitude of potential health and wellness benefits made possible by CBD therapy.
Purely from a nutritional aspect, hemp-derived CBD, like Manuka Honey, is also a natural source of vitamins, proteins and essential fatty acids, including vitamins A, C and E, as well as B complex vitamins, calcium, magnesium, terpenes and flavonoids.
To boost the nutritional and health benefits of certain foods and beverages, many consumers have taken to using high quality Manuka Honey infused with hemp-derived CBD as a sweetening ingredient in recipes and mixed into hot teas for soothing sore throats and other cold and flu symptoms.
Regardless of what form factor the combination of CBD and Manuka Honey may take, the potential health and wellness benefits afforded by the marriage of the two deliver health conscious consumers with an all-natural nutritional supplement that packs a powerful punch.
ABOUT BESPOKE EXTRACTS, INC.
Bespoke Extracts, Inc. was formed in 2017 to introduce a proprietary line of premium quality, all natural cannabidiol (CBD) products in the form of tinctures and capsules for the nutraceutical and veterinary markets. All Bespoke Extracts’ flavor-infused tinctures and capsules are formulated using pure, all natural, zero-THC phytocannabinoid-rich (“PCR”) hemp-derived CBD sourced from one of the largest, fully and vertically integrated producers of PCR hemp oil. All CBD isolate and oils are authenticated by an independent third party via issuance of a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which cannabinoid content and profile, microbiological content, heavy metal content, pesticide content, and residual solvent content. Bespoke recognizes the importance of compliance and is partnered with one of the industry’s leading CGMP certified extraction facilities. This ensures the consistency and quality of Bespoke’s product line and brand.
A key differentiator of Bespoke’s finished products is the superb quality of ingredients we source from the industry’s leading suppliers, each of whom we have carefully vetted and qualified. Raw Manuka Honey used in our products is imported directly from the north island of New Zealand from a supplier which has been supplying quality bee products since 1974; and carries the industry’s UMF 16+ rating, distinguishing it as ultra-premium grade Manuka Honey.
Bespoke’s products are distributed through its direct-to-consumers ecommerce store, found at www.bespokeextracts.com, and through select specialty retailers, pharmacies/dispensaries and care providers.