• The Magic of Manuka

The Magic of Manuka

  • What is so special about Manuka honey? Compared to ‘normal’ honey it is very expensive and has a lot of medicinal claims attached to it. Manuka Honey is a natural honey made by bees who collect nectar from the Mānuka bush; a wild shrub which grows widely across New Zealand but flowers for only a few weeks each year.

A History of Honey

Fragrant Earth is well known for its campaigning in support of bees. In 2020 and beyond our focus will remain on Bumble bees, which do not produce commercial honey. We do not sell Manuka honey as for us it travels too far and at huge cost, but we do sell manuka honey throat lozenges! Manuka Honey & Propolis Throat Lozenges provide soothing effective relief from the symptoms of sore throats and irritating coughs. These lozenges contain the combined action of the antibacterial properties of Active Manuka AAH (Antibacterial, Antioxidant Honey) 650+, plus natural immune supporting Propolis.

Manuka essential oil was first promoted by Fragrant Earth in the late 90’s after John Kerr – based in New South Wales – started to promote Australian oils, and was then followed by Mark Webb. We have always maintained a strong relationship with ‘down under’.

Whilst everyone sings the praise of manuka honey we must remember that many local specialist honeys also have medicinal properties. Bees local to us in Glastonbury forage for nectar in the fields and hedgerows – including the Quantock and Blackdown hills, Sedgemoor and South Somerset – and in August nectar flows from the purple heather of Exmoor, with it’s distinctive aroma and flavour.

The ancient Egyptians used honey as a wound treatment as early as 3000 BC and it has been found in Egyptian tombs. Over 4,000 years ago honey was used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, where it was thought to be effective in treating indigestion and imbalances in the body. The bee was the symbol of the Greek goddess Artemis and, oddly, of Napoleon Bonaparte too!

Is Honey a Medicine?

Lots of healing claims for honey are made but not backed up by research. However you cannot dismiss traditional use. Our opinion is that researchers are always after money and once a project is done the mantra ‘we need more research’ is oft-recited. This has been the experience of Aromatherapy. Fragrant Earth are firm believers in the value of honey; not only as a food but as a traditional medicine. Bees collect nectar and pollen, and seal and guard the hive with propolis. The carbohydrates or sugars present are the monosaccharides fructose (38.2%) and glucose (31%); and disaccharides (~9%) sucrose, maltose, isomaltose, maltulose, turanose and kojibiose; lots of different sugars, but also Proteins, Amino acids, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants.  

Propolis contains the polyphenols called flavonoids. Flavonoids are produced in plants as a form of protection. Bees ‘make’ propolis especially from the resins of barks as well as sap. That makes it a true Aromatherapy bee-made compound! Propolis is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.  Of course like honey it all depends upon what the bees collect. On Sedgemoor the Willows are common along with an abundance of Meadowsweet – both rich in salicylates known for their pain killing and antiseptic propetrties.

Specialist honey’s properties depend on the food source. We mentioned Exmoor heather honey previously. One of our Sedgemoor specialities is Borage honey. Always in very short supply, tastes wonderful, but Borage is used for adrenal insufficiency, for “blood purification,” to increase urine flow, to prevent inflammation of the lungs, as a sedative, and to promote sweating. When the season starts go for it before it sells out!

Chainbridge Honey Farm

After a visit to Northumberland by our founder – who was impressed by the ‘emptiness’ of the Cheviots and different Moors – he discovered a honey farm that sold lovely beeswax tablets. That was in the late 80’s in the heyday of Aromatherapy teaching and eager students. Fragrant Earth became a main source for beeswax as students struggled to make cold creams! Today we still love Chainbridge Honey Farm products. Chainbridge has developed into a great visitor attraction should you visit the area. We still love their beeswax and sell pure beeswax rolled candles in various sizes, as well as some novelty beehive-shaped candles which are loved by visitors to Glastonbury. All are available online today.

Getting down to earth instead of buzzing about, we would like to look at feet. Feet are the unsung heroes of our body. What a beating they take. Salt baths are good, and we sell a lot of salts for these hard working parts of our anatomy. We strongly recommend from Chainbridge our Peppermint & Honey Foot Cream. A light, easily absorbed foot-cream which combines the moisturising properties of honey, sweet almond oil and jojoba oil with the zingy freshness of peppermint to leave your feet feeling good. The cream is especially good when applied after bathing, or for use in the summer when feet are hot and tired at the end of the day, or for older people after a visit to the chiropodist.

The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust

You will have seen that we have a thing about bees! Yes, we write a lot about the honeybee but also we realise the value of bumble bees. We are a Corporate Member of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust and applaud its work. If you are a gardener and want to have a bumble bee friendly garden, go to https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/garden-advice/ . While other animals do pollinate, bumblebees are particularly good at it; their wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called ‘buzz pollination’. Pollination means quite literally that we have food to eat! The lesson then encourage bumble bees in the garden.


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