Produced by bees from the Manuka or tea-tree bush, Manuka Honey's strong antibacterial properties deserves its reputation as a powerful healing agent.
Just one of Manuka Honey's benefits is its ability to treat wounds in a multi-faceted way and when paired together with a bandage provides the optimal healing environment for wounds as its sterile, anti-bacterial all while keeping the wound moist.
Nearly everyone will experience an open wound at some point in their life, especially our little ones! Using the right open wound treatment can mean the difference between a quick recovery and prolonged healing, excess scars, pain or an increased risk of infection.
In fact, Manuka honey should be on everyone's first aid agenda but especially in the family first aid kit. Our little adventurers take tumbles and falls during their ventures all the time so it's important to treat their wounds with an effective and natural alternative.
To learn more about the benefits of Manuka Honey visit https://www.comvita.com.au/store/medihoney
Dr Nural Cokcetin is research scientist specialising in the field of microbiology at the ithree institute, University of Technology Sydney. Nural's current research focuses on understanding the antimicrobial properties of honey, with a drive to use this knowledge to develop new treatments for infections caused by multi-drug resistant superbugs. Nural's PhD focused on investigating the use of honey as a prebiotic to improve human gut health and she was one of the first researchers to show a positive impact of eating honey on the beneficial gut populations.
Question: How would we use Manuka Honey as a natural option for wound care?
Dr Nural Cokcetin: Medical grade Manuka honey is what is used in honey-based wound care products, which include things like wound dressings, bandages and gels but there are two main things that we look for in order for it to be classed as medical grade:
- The honey needs to be sterile so that it is not introducing anything that could potentially bring in any harmful bacteria into the wound
- The honey is also tested to ensure that it has a high level of special antibacterial activity
And for treating wounds we should always be looking for products that are appropriately packaged and sterilised for wound care, and approved by the regulatory bodies as a medical device.
Question: How effective is Manuka Honey as a wound treatment?
Dr Nural Cokcetin: Wound healing is a complex process, and although we don't fully understand the process yet we do know that there are certain things that help to promote wound healing and Manuka honey can help. We know that maintaining a moist wound environment helps to promote the regrowth of new skin (epithelialisation) while simultaneously preventing the growth of infection causing microbes are ideal. Using Manuka honey is beneficial in this situation because of its ability to maintain the moist conditions while providing a protective barrier to reduce the risk of infections at the same time due to its antibacterial activity. Manuka honey also has a debriding action which can remove the -dirt' or -gunk' from the wound, and it helps to reduce wound odour.
Question: When did you first realise the benefits of Manuka Honey?
Dr Nural Cokcetin: The antibacterial activity was first discovered by scientists (Prof Peter Molan + group) in New Zealand in the 1980s and since then, we've done a lot of work to understand this activity and where it comes from and also to understand many of the other medicinal properties Manuka honey has – like wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Question: What is the future of medical grade Manuka honey?
Dr Nural Cokcetin: We've been doing some research on whether the antibacterial action of medical grade Manuka honey also works against biofilms. Biofilms are born when different types of bacteria form a community and stick to a surface – this can be a living surface such as a wound bed. Within that biofilm, the bacteria work together to produce a protective layer around themselves which makes them very difficult to treat – sort of like a slime shield which helps stop them from being cleared by the body's defence system. Recently we've been testing whether Manuka honey can work against these biofilms, because if a wound gets infected, usually biofilms are the culprit. What we've found is that the manukas honey can help to stop them forming. This is really exciting for us to see because it means that our research can have a real impact and be used outside of the lab.
Question: Why should families choose medical grade Manuka honey over others for first aid?
Dr Nural Cokcetin: The main reasons come back to the ability of Manuka honey to support that wound healing environment, while simultaneously offering a protective barrier that can help to reduce the risk of infections. Given that there are complexities that can exist with current wound care and first aid treatments, it's always good to have additional options available for first aid and wound care.
Interview by Brooke Hunter