A little about Mānuka Honey

Someone asked me the other day two questions – Why one should take Mānuka honey and why is it expensive?

These are the questions that give me a chance to influence people’s perception in a scientific manner and as a person who has been working with Mānuka honey every day for over a decade, I think I know a little bit of its secret.

The Immune System

Before answering the question, one needs to understand how their immune system works. The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. Our body is a multi-cellular organism made up of perhaps 100 trillion cells. The cells in our body are complicated machines. Each one has a nucleus, energy production equipment, etc. Now most of the infections that we get are from either bacterial or viral.

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are much simpler. For example, they have no nucleus. They are perhaps 1/100th the size of a human cell and might measure 1 micrometre long. Bacteria are completely independent organisms able to eat and reproduce – they are sort of like fish swimming in the ocean of your body. Under the right conditions’ bacteria reproduce very quickly: One bacterium divides into two separate bacteria perhaps once every few minutes. At that rate, one bacterium can become millions in just a few hours.

A virus is a different breed altogether. A virus is not really alive. A virus particle is nothing but a fragment of DNA in a protective coat. The virus comes in contact with a host cell (that is us), attaches itself to the host cell wall and injects its DNA (and perhaps a few enzymes) into the cell. The DNA uses the machinery inside the living cell to reproduce new virus particles. Eventually the hijacked cell dies and bursts, freeing the new virus particles; or the viral particles may bud off from the cell, so it remains alive. In either case, the host cell is a factory for the virus.

Now our body’s immune system is to fight these monsters. The main parts of the immune system are white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of our immune system that actively fight infection. The immune system doesn’t just attack the microbial infection, but it keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells, also known as memory cells. These memory cells can recognise and destroy microbes quickly if it enters the body again.

Antibiotics

Sometimes, when our immunity is bit weak or if the rate of bacterial reproduction is too high to kill by the white blood cells alone, we need to get some help from external sources such as antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Some are highly specialised and are only effective against certain bacteria. Others, known as broad-spectrum antibiotics, attack a wide range of bacteria, including ones that are beneficial to us.

There are two main ways in which antibiotics target bacteria. They either prevent the reproduction of bacteria, or they kill the bacteria, for example by stopping the mechanism responsible for building their cell walls.

Smarter bacteria

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria learn how to overcome the antibiotic that is supposed to kill them. It occurs when people overuse and underuse antibiotics. They take them for a condition that doesn’t require antibiotics, or they stop taking an antibiotic before the prescription ends. Both scenarios give bacteria the opportunity to mutate.

Antibiotic resistance is so common that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider it one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. Every year more than 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die from it, according to the CDC.

We need Superfoods:

This is where superfoods like Mānuka honey comes into the picture. Mānuka honey is so powerful that even the most multidrug resistant bacteria, known as MRDs (such as MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus , H. Pylori, pseudomonas aeruginosa etc) will eventually surrender to powerful properties of Mānuka honey, and till date no bacterial strain has become resistant to Mānuka honey. It is truly natures powerful antibiotic food.

Boost your body’s defence system:

Mānuka honey doesn’t just stop there with killing these monsters, it has so many other bioactive components such as polyphenols, bioflavonoids, organic acids, enzymes, and proteins that boosts our immunity that we cannot see with our eyes.

Why is it expensive?

I normally ask the question ‘Define expensive”!!

To reap the benefits of Mānuka honey, we normally recommend a dose of 2 teaspoons a day. So that’s an average consumption of 10g per day. That’s roughly comes to 3 to 4kgs a year per person. So, you will be spending up to $500 a year (for MGO250+ or UMF10+ Mānuka honey).

To put these numbers in the context of spending habits, on an average we spend nearly the same amount (or even more) on things like alcohol, cigarettes, junk foods, regular takeaways etc. We need to re-establish what is more important in life not the very next day or week but in big picture thinking, how my health is going to be after 5 years, 10 years and so on? After all we all want to live peacefully without any illnesses and diseases all the way through. We all know that “Prevention is better than Cure”, and so I say “Mānuka honey is better than medicines”