One of the tricks that facilitates prepping is storing things that have more than one use. Duct tape is of course the classic example – it’s almost a miracle material. Vinegar is by no means far behind. It’s also a good cleanser as well as being perfect for cooking or preserving food and it works well for killing weeds. However, don’t try to catch flies with it, honey works better for that according to an old saying.
Oh, right, honey. Do you have honey in stockpiles for emergency use? A lot of preppers-perhaps most of them-don’t. Honey is only a sweetener, after all, and sugar works pretty well for that too, so why duplicate? Okay, this is why: Honey does not have as many applications as duct tape or vinegar, but it is still a lot more than just a sweetener. It could literally save your life in a crisis situation, because if you get the right honey it is also a strong, natural antibiotic.
Every honey, in fact, has some antibiotic properties, so it’s worth getting a good supply of it laid up (it also stores well). However, if you want the maximum benefit, consider putting in some extra effort to find mānuka honey and stock it up.
What’s the Difference?
Honey is a natural bee growing commodity. Worker bees are collecting sugar nectar from flowers and turning it into honey. We are also introducing natural antibiotics in the process. The bees do that so the honey can store well in the hive – the antibiotics will destroy any micro-organisms that could ruin it, giving them a long-lasting supply of food.
One batch of nectar is as good as another, for bees. That means honey usually consists of a mixture of nectar from various plants. Yet, sometimes most or all of the nectar comes from a single plant species. These are known as monofloral honey and are seen as a premium product. They are often prized for a distinctive flavor – fireweed honey and Appalachian sourwood honey are two of the most popular varieties of the United States.
You’re probably not too concerned about subtle flavors in your honey, of course, in a survival situation, but one monofloral has other benefits – and that’s mānuka honey.
Mānuka honey comes from New Zealand, where it’s produced by European honey bees from the nectar of the tea tree – mānuka in the Māori language. The effect is a deep, viscous, creamy, complex taste honey. Despite being sweet, it has a bitter aftertaste. It doesn’t taste bad at all (and it works just fine as a sweetener) but it isn’t one of the most common varieties among honey enthusiasts. On the other hand, the alternative medicine is incredibly popular.
Honey as Medicine?
Mānuka honey has more to say than just its distinctive taste. It also has certain unique chemical characteristics that make it stand out from other honeys. This is particularly rich in antioxidants, and has good anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Which means it has many medicinal uses. Here are a few:
- Treat wounds, sores, and burns. Applying mānuka honey to a burn or wound and certain forms of ulcer can speed healing, minimize inflammation and even relieve pain. Its antibacterial properties also help prevent infection. Just make sure to cover the honey-treated wound with a dressing to keep insects away from it.
- Reduce bowel and intestinal symptoms. Experiments on rats show that mānuka honey protects against inflammatory disease of the intestine and reduces symptoms if it has already been seized. Honey can decrease inflammation and suppress bacterial infections.
- Tackle resistant bacteria. There is some evidence that mānuka honey might also be able to fight bacteria such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which are becoming more resistant to traditional antibiotics. There is evidence in the case of MRSA that it can actually attack the genes which give the bacteria its resistance.
- Ease of acid reflux. Acid reflux is not life-threatening, but can be miserably painful. Mānuka honey is capable of relieving symptoms.
- Fight gum disease. Untreated gum disease can result in tooth loss and even damage to the bone – but where do you find a dental hygienist in a crisis? The antibacterial properties of Mānuka honey can reduce dental plaque by up to 35%, as well as reduce gingivitis and periodontal disease bleeding. The mineral content of honey also promotes healthy teeth.
- Allergy remedy. A Finnish research shows that honey can reduce pollen allergy symptoms by up to 70%. Seasonal allergies can be crippling and honey can make a difference enough to keep you on your feet and working.
- Sleep aid. Mānuka oil, just before bedtime mixed with milk and drunk, promotes deep, unbroken sleep. This is vital to health – as well as leaving you well-rested, good sleep will lower the risk of heart failure and other serious conditions.
While any honey has health benefits, mānuka honey is in its own class. This contains as much as four times the concentration of many nutrients as other honey, so your supply as a medication will be more effective and last a lot longer.
Get the Real Thing
Mānuka honey has become very popular as a health food and medicine – and demand is a lot higher than supply. That means a lot of what’s being sold as mānuka isn’t – either it’s been diluted with normal honey (and sometimes corn syrup) or there’s no actual mānuka in it at all. That doesn’t make a big difference if you just want something to spread on your biscuits, but if you’re planning to rely on its medicinal properties you don’t want to settle for counterfeit.
All real mānuka honey exported from New Zealand will have the “Unique Mānuka Factor” logo on the front of the jar, along with a UMF number. You need honey with a UMF number of at least 10, and 16 or higher is the best. This number comes from actual antibacterial tests of the honey and is a reliable guide to quality and effectiveness. Any honey that isn’t marked as being produced in New Zealand, and doesn’t have both a UMF mark and a number, is not real mānuka, whatever the seller claims. Get the real thing, and add it to your survival stores.