Manuka honey with a high UMF rating is significantly more effective than examples with a low rating, or regular honey, in improving wound healing, new research shows.
Researchers at the University of Sydney compared the effectiveness of manuka honey of different UMF (unique manuka factor) ratings (ranging from 5 to 20 depending on antibacterial activity) and ordinary, store-bought honey in healing large, bloody wounds on horses' legs.
They said the results were "quite remarkable" and applicable to humans.
"I have been doing wound-healing studies for many years and if you look across the board there are very few, if any, compounds that have a consistent repeatable effect," Sydney University equine surgical specialist Andrew Dart said.
"The wound treated daily with UMF 20 honey showed a nice pink, even and healthy bed of granulation of tissue, whereas our control had a rough, unhealthy bed of granulation tissue with a necrotic centre with poor blood supply."
The study, published in the Australian Veterinary Journal, is further proof that manuka honey, which is produced by bees from the manuka or tea-tree bush and has antibacterial properties, deserves its reputation as a powerful healing agent.
The higher the UMF, the greater the antibacterial activity, as well as the price.
"Honey works really well on lots of different types of wounds – infected, acute, chronic, or even burns and ulcers and certain honeys may work better on some wound types compared to others," she said.
"For example, for an infected wound we would always use a honey that has high levels antimicrobial activity, but for a non-infected ulcer, you are likely to still see the wound-healing properties of honey even if it does not have high levels of antimicrobial activity," Dr Cokcetin said.