Honey is mainly composed of carbohydrates - fructose and glucose, but it also contains small amounts of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, trace elements and vitamins.
All honeys kill bacteria and help wounds to heal. This is because they are very acidic, have a high sugar content, and naturally produce a molecule called hydrogen peroxide.
When honey comes into contact with moisture in the body, enzymes slowly release the hydrogen peroxide at sufficient levels to kill bacteria but not damage tissue. However this action known as peroxide activity is very easily destroyed by dilution, heat and light.
In 1982 a New Zealand scientist Dr Peter Molan made a remarkable discovery about the healing properties of a unique honey called Manuka.
It is well known that honeys acquire their unique aroma and flavours from the plants on which the bees draw nectar and pollen. Dr Molan wanted to investigate how the actual healing properties of a honey are affected by the chemical composition of the food nourishing the bees.
Because of its long isolation from the rest of the world and its island biogeography, New Zealand has extraordinary flora and fauna. Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is an evergreen tree, part of the tea tree family, and native to New Zealand.
Through his research Dr Molan discovered that honey harvested from the Manuka tree contains a different component, which sets it apart from other honeys. This non-peroxide activity is stable and doesn’t lose its potency or effectiveness when exposed to dilution, heat or light.