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Honey; Beneficial Powers

Honey has an ancient medical pedigree; records show it was used in Egyptian medicine, its beneficial powers mentioned in the ippocratic writings, the Bible and the Koran. In medieval Britain it was used continuously in folk medicine.

Today, scientific proof is emerging that honey, pollen and propolis (a sticky resin made by bees from the gum and bark of certain trees) may offer solutions to some of the most urgent health problems of our time.

Its the wound-healing powers of honey, recognised and exploited for more than 3,000 years, which are making medical headlines today. Honey seems to disinfect and heal wounds by drawing essential moisture away from the micro-organisms that cause bacterial growth. It also contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, a natural disinfectant.

Since they"ve been available, doctors have treated wounds with antibiotics. But more and more, bacteria has become resistant. For the deadly bacterium MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), even the last-resort antibiotic, "vancomycin", sometimes fails to work. Ulcers, bedsores, gangrenous tissue and severe burns all becoming sites of uncontrollable infections.

Research in New Zealand by the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato showed that of 59 patients treated conventionally for up to two years with no success were switched to a honey treatment. Within a week, 51 of the patients wounds - which included leg ulcers, gangrene and burns - were sterile. Dr. Peter Molan, spokesman for the unit, concluded that when honey is used "infection is rapidly cleared, inflammation, swelling and pain quickly reduce, odour is also reduced . . . and healing occurs rapidly with minimal scarring. (For more information, see the wound-care medical journal " Primary Intention" 4th December 1998).

Dr Molan has since become a founder of the New Zealand Natural Food Company, which produces Manuka honey, considered the Rolls-Royce of honeys. It"s made by bees with nectar gathered from a particular species of Manuka tree growing in northern New Zealand, this honey has additional disinfecting power - trademarked as the "Unique Manuka Factor" (UMF) - and a high-strength version is now being supplied to hospitals. More than 20 in the UK are already using it. See 'Honey'; 'Propolis'; 'Pollen'

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