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Manuka – the biography of an extraordinary honey

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‘The book looks at how over the last 100 years, the Manuka is providing extraordinary health benefits’

Title: Manuka – the biography of an extraordinary honey

Author: Cliff Van Eaton

Publisher: Exisle Publishing

Reviewer: Jane Brocksom, Urology & Continence Nurse Specialist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

What was it like?

Easy to read history of Manuka honey and beekeeping (not sure you’ll be an apiarist though!), the author argues “not a comprehensive scholarly review” yet it seemed indepth and well researched to me. I’m sure since the first paper was written in 1919 there has been a number of tomes on the subject but this book is a great start – natural history, biology, scientific discovery and human history, a ”good Kiwi” yarn. A wonderful introduction to the medicinal benefits of Manuka honey.

Leptospermum Scaparium – Manuka - the honey bees ”weed of paradise”. The plant is now known throughout the world and this book traces its roots from being given the name by Maori as almost all Manuka honey is made in South Island, New Zealand. Captain Cook on his 2nd Pacific voyage on board Resolution found another use for Manuka – mixed with Rimu, molasses and yeast they produced beer. A medicinal cure for Scurvy! (Combined with carrot marmalade, sauerkraut and fresh greens)

The book looks at how over the last 100 years, the Manuka is providing extraordinary health benefits – is it to much to say the honey has no limits?

What were the highlights?

Its uses, the Maori found, was a ”veritable pharmacy”, including treating urine infection, dysentery, diarrhoea, symptoms of a cold, gargle and mouthwash. Chewing the bark reduced babies colic. Salve for burns and poultice for wounds and open sores. Insecticide, antibacterial, anti fungal and antioxidant…..the benefits continue to grow and the book explores and explains how we have learnt more over the last century. The benefits within wound care are historical (slapping honey on our cuts and burns before we ever began to write things down) but the recent case studies and clinical trials give it more validity – proving surgical wound, burns and decubitus ulcer value. Manuka honey creates a new barrier, adding moisture, osmotic pressure draws out moisture below the wound, less painful dressing changes, fewer scars, pH to promote wound healing, debrider and odour neutraliser – with antibiotic ”wonder drugs” on the wain are we looking at the ‘new’ natural wonder – non peroxide antibacterial Manuka honey.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Aside from presenting the therapeutic benefits as described above. The strength of this book is in depicting the story of hope and optimism for the economics for New Zealand, honey bees and Manuka. The increased production ensures erosion control and carbon trading regimes plus as companies develop and devise plans to lease land and under take Manuka plantations, enter into landowner agreements and replant poor farmland. The benefits far out weigh the medicinal benefits as this book presents with clarity. Learning about Peter Molan his indomitable spirit and tireless work, proving he was right and he is being taken serious. Another positive note is the effect being seen with MRSA and VRE infections.

Who should read it?

Anyone – literally, it is a lovely book, however, especially anyone with a interest in healthcare associated infections, natural remedies and future directions of non pharmacological health care.



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