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Manuka Honey: A Remedy Rediscovered

Manuka: A hardy tree that nurtures the foresthoneycomb.jpg

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)thrives in rugged, exposed condition. A shrub like tree that is native to New Zealand, it grows in clusters on hillsides, in coastal areas and at the edges of the native bush. Manuka nurtures other trees in the forest by dropping a lot of organic leaf matter enriching the soil as well as protecting small saplings from the elements, before giving way to new forests. The Manuka's essential oil, encased by its leaves, protect the tree from a host of natural enemies such as bacteria, fungi, and insects. When in bloom, the manuka tree can be seen with a dazzling array of white flowers. Nectar from the Manuka flower is gathered by bees, which use it to produce Manuka Honey.

A Remedy Rediscovered:

Manuka was used extensively by indigenous Maori people as a medicinal plant to heal and fight infection. These properties were also recognised by the original European settlers who were largely dependant on local knowledge to treat their own illnesses. It is recorded that captain Cook and his crew drank a tea made from the leaves to prevent scurvy and promote good health. It is only relatively recently that science has 'rediscovered' the healthy-giving properties of Manuka honey. Manuka has been used to treat a range of skin problems including chronic sores, ring worm and eczema. The young shoots were chewed and swallowed for dysentery. The were also boiled for rheumatism, sprains, abrasions, as well as sore ans stiff backs. Vapour baths treated blocked sinuses, hay fever, head colds, bronchitis and asthma. A poultice of crushed leaves was often applied for many skin diseases as well as wounds to enhance the body's ability to heal itself and reduce the risk of infection.

Honey for Health:

New Zealand's active Manuka honey is now also used as a natural remedy both as a food and a topical application. In fact, apitherapy, the use of bee products as natural remedies, has been used by many different cultures throughout history.


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