Superfood & Science: Defining Manuka
Manuka is a tree that has been used in the Maori tradition for generations but has only relatively recently become known to the rest of the world. In the twenty years since Manuka Honey has been receiving market attention, it has grown reputation as a “superfood” that can cure a wide variety of ailments. However, big claims require a lot of evidence and for a long time science was unsure of the validity of Manuka’s super status.
Particularly in the past few years, New Zealand based and international scientists have zoned in on Manuka like, um, bees to honey, to finally figure out once and for all whether it is just a tasty placebo or it really can make everything better. And the verdict is... Scientifically, Manuka sits somewhere in between. The scientific community has revealed, beyond reasonable doubt, that there are components within that have very notable benefits to human beings, however at the same time, some assertions remain out of reach or unproven.
Through testing the antimicrobial activity found in the nectar, the science of Manuka has been uncovered. It started in the 1980s when New Zealand professor Peter Molan discovered that the action of manuka honey remained despite hydrogen peroxide being removed. Labs continued to test why this occurred and eventually landed on the fact that mthylglyoxal (MGO) is an active component in Manuka honey and it stimulates the antimicrobial activity that will go about aiding woulds, small throats and boosting the overall immune system. Using Manuka honey to avoid the common cold or dress a fresh graze became scientific fact.
Of course, having one amazing power isn’t good enough for everyone and many still question whether Manuka can pause short-term memory loss in Alzheimer patients or prevent diabetes. This takes time, testing and money, which does not satisfy any instant gratification. What is known, so far, is that there are no negative effects to Manuka Honey and, therefore, including it as a healthy yet yummy part of your diet is doing something positive for your body.