Manuka Honey: What’s the Buzz?

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Any one who knows me understands that I am one clumsy beeyatch. I can’t own cups made of glass, I stumble over pebbles, and I once managed to fall UP the stairs. I’m the person who checks her watch when she’s holding a beverage, spilling the contents all over the floor.  I’ve even cut my tongue on a spoon. If there’s a way to break something, fall, or drop something… I will find it! It’s almost like a really lame super hero ability I somehow was cursed with.

So no one was really surprised when I almost cut off a chunk of my toe by knocking over a full-length mirror with a blanket.

The bloody horror

It was the winter of 2013 in my good ol’ hometown of Austin, Texas when we were breaking records with freezing temperatures, hale, and snow. I lived in an old house from the 50’s with about as much insulation as Miley Cyrus’s underwear. So during that winter I’d drag around a humongous blanket to stay warm, which can only be described as being made from a gigantic teddy bear’s fur.

As I was walking around with that fine, blankey slung over my shoulder, I misjudged the distance between aforementioned blankey and a large mirror I had leaning up against the wall near my bed. Did I mention I’m also lazy? If I would have hung up the damn mirror, none of this would have happened (I got a new one and still haven’t hung it up btw). The blanket hit the mirror, which fell over hitting my bed frame, causing the mirror to shatter and then land on my foot. The result after much bleeding, cursing, and cleaning was this:

Toecut

Trust me, this pic doesn’t come close to capturing how horrific this cut was.  See that little grey blob-looking thing?  That was actually a large chunk of skin attached only by a thread.  If wind blew through the house, that skin would flap grotesquely in the breeze.

At the time, I was beginning my hippy phase, trying to eliminate processed foods, harmful products, and figuring out how to heal my body through natural means. So I googled “natural ways to heal deep cuts” and what I learned blew my fragile little mind.  Apparently I’ve been treating wounds incorrectly my entire life!

I’ve always been taught that there are a few steps you go through after acquiring a cut:

1. Curse.  Thanks Dad!

2. Clean cut with soap and water.

3. Apply either alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Curse some more.

4. Apply Neosporin or some other antibacterial ointment.

5. Apply bandage and curse just for fun.

6. Throughout healing process, re-clean and let wound air out before replacing bandage.

Does this work?

All of these steps are LIES. They actually slow the healing process and lead to scar tissue being produced. Products such as antibacterial soap, iodine, and hydrogen peroxide inhibit and actually prevent the body from healing itself naturally. Yes, they kill germs, but much like antibiotics, they can also “kill” beneficial cells and bacteria that your body releases to heal, such as leukocytes (your body’s natural bactericidal cells) and fibroblasts (cells that form new skin).

Allowing the wound to dry and using bandages that let oxygen in leads to scabbing and eventually scarring. Even people in the 1960s observed that wounds kept moist healed quicker and with less scarring than those allowed to dry. A cell’s natural state is being moist! Dead cells such as hair and nails and scabs are in a dry state. Therefore, it is beneficial to us to keep our cells in their optimum state whilst healing.

So then what the hell are you supposed to do?

Well, you can try what I did if you want. I was shocked at the results!

I washed my toe in the bathtub with water and a teeny bit of regular soap (it was not antibacterial). I then slapped on a glob of Manuka honey (more on that later), wrapped the sucker in gauze, and wrapped medical tape around it, sealing in the moisture. Every day I would remove the gauze and repeat the process.

Within about a week my toe looked like this:

Toecut2

And within a couple weeks I couldn’t even see where the cut had been:

Toecut3

My mind was officially blown. Here I was using a product that was tasty, in my kitchen cupboard, and somehow it healed me perfectly without a scar.

Go ahead and google “The healing properties of honey” and your mind will also be blown. The odd thing is that people have known about this for years, yet we’ve been brainwashed by companies peddling their snake oils that we need their products to heal. I call shennanigans! Apparently hospitals have been using honey to heal wounds for awhile now without it being public knowledge.

The stuff that is used in hospitals and that has all the properties you need to heal is Manuka honey. Manuka has something called, methylglyoxal (MG), which is what gives it its healing power. The higher the percentage of MG in Manuka, the better the healing power. Honey manufacturers use a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating to grade the different types of Manuka honey, and all Manuka should have at least a UMF rating of 10+ to be effective. Manuka advocates also claim (though studies are varied and sometimes non-existent) that it can help with:

  • Reducing high cholesterol
  • Preventing and treating cancer
  • Treating gastrointestinal problems
  • Treating diabetes
  • Reducing systemic inflammation
  • Treating ear, eye, and sinus infections

And if you still don’t believe me, go to CVS and look closer at the first aid section. You’ll notice that some of the biggest brand names are beginning to sell “manuka honey bandages.” The problem with purchasing from those brands though, is that you don’t know the quality or age of the Manuka honey they’re using.

So what’s the bottom line? Keep your wound moist and stop using over-the-counter antibacterial products to clean your wound (a saline solution or water/soap combo works great). And if you feel like dropping some bills on Manuka honey, you won’t be disappointed. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it will aid the healing process when you nearly cut off your toe.