bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Hi-tech honey dressings

The case for the healing properties of manuka honey is growing and now a company has devised a new way of applying manuka wound dressings without creating a sticky mess. Comvita, the New Zealand bee products company moving towards a full New Zealand stock market listing, has developed a manuka dressing that is like a sheet of rubber and isn't sticky to touch.

Much of the work on Manuka healing properties has been undertaken at the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, in New Zealand. BBC News Online reports Biochemist Professor Peter Molan as saying:
“In all honeys, there is — to different levels — hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar.

“In manuka honey, and its close relative which grows in Australia called jellybush, there's something else besides the hydrogen peroxide.

“And there's nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world.”

That “something else” has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is.

But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.

And he has found a way to measure its antibacterial efficacy, by comparing UMF manuka honey with a standard antiseptic (carbolic, or phenol) in its ability to fight bacteria. The results are astonishing.

He said: "We know it has a very broad spectrum of action.

“It works on bacteria, fungi, protozoa. We haven't found anything it doesn't work on among infectious organisms.”
And manuka has been used in really tough cases:

Cancer specialist Dr Glenys Round has also found honey to be an effective treatment. “We've been using honey to treat fungating wounds, where the cancer has broken through the skin,” she said. “The results in that situation have been excellent.”


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