Naturally protective.

Leptospermum scoparium

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka or Tea tree) is a shrub or small tree native to New Zealand where it is particularly common on the drier east coasts of the North Island and the South Island. Manuka is the Maori name used in New Zealand, and tea tree is a common name used in Australia and to a lesser extent also in New Zealand.

It is a prolific scrub-type tree and is often one of the first species to regenerate on cleared land. It is typically a shrub growing to 2-5 m tall. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves 7-20 mm long and 2-6 mm broad, with a short spine tip. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, 8-15 mm diameter, with five petals.

The wood is tough and hard, and was often used for tool handles. Manuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour when used in smoking meats and fish. Manuka honey, produced when bees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey, has high antibacterial potency and is widely available in New Zealand.

Harnessing honey's healing power

From BBC News, by Angie Knox

Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years - the Ancient Greeks used it, and so have many other peoples through the ages. Even up to the second world war, honey was being used for its antibacterial properties in treating wounds. But with the advent of penicillin and other antibiotic drugs in the twentieth century, honey's medicinal qualities have taken a back seat.

But that might be about to change - thanks to one New Zealand based researcher. Working in his Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, in the central North Island, biochemist Professor Peter Molan has identified one particular type of honey with extraordinary healing qualities.

Professor Molan has shown that honey made from the flowers of the manuka bush, a native of New Zealand, has antibacterial properties over and above those of other honeys.

Mystery ingredient

He said: "In all honeys, there is - to different levels - hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar. In manuka honey there's something else besides the hydrogen peroxide and there's nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world."

That "something else" has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is. But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.

And he has found a way to measure its antibacterial efficacy. The results are astonishing. In fact, he says UMF manuka honey can even tackle antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria - a growing problem for hospitals around the world.