Honeys with a high antimicrobial activity have achieved medical status as being important effective antiseptic alternatives when dressing wounds, burns and ulcers.
Jarrah Honey is considered ‘medicinal’ due to its ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and also increase the good bacteria within the gut microbiome due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide within the honey. This medicinal chemical compound is produced from a unique reaction between the water naturally present in the honey, glucose and an enzyme that is placed in the honey by the bees, called glucose oxidase. The result is a powerful antibacterial agent with antifungal properties that is gentle on the digestive system and also on the skin of both humans and animals.
This level of antimicrobial activity is measured by a term called “Total Activity” or TA. This number represents the antimicrobial strength of the honey, meaning the higher number on the scale, the greater antimicrobial strength of that honey.
Total activity considers the medicinal properties from both peroxide activity and also non peroxide activity. Jarrah Honey gets almost all of its medicinal properties from peroxide activity whereas a honey such as Manuka honey gets all of its medicinal properties from an enzyme called methylglyoxal (MGO) which is considered non peroxide activity. Finally, the pH (0 = Acid 14 = Alkaline) of raw and unfiltered Jarrah honey is low, meaning that it’s quite acidic which is the environment you want to inhibit the growth of bacteria and means unwanted pathogens cannot survive.
When we ingest Jarrah honey or apply it topically to manage wounds or burns, it is this hydrogen peroxide that helps to kill off bacteria which helps to treat coughs and sore throats and also help to heal wounds by keeping the skin sterile and encouraging the growth of new cells. The lack of water present in jarrah honey makes the environment very difficult for bacteria to survive which naturally need water to survive and thrive in moist conditions. This is why Jarrah honey has been used successfully to treat burn wounds in hospital environments throughout Australia as it provides the perfect sterile solution to keep bacteria away while encouraging new healthy tissue to be created by the body.
“There is a large body of evidence to support the use of honey as a wound dressing for a wide range of types of wounds. Its antibacterial activity rapidly clears infection and protects wounds from becoming infected, and thus it provides a moist healing environment without the risk of bacterial growth occurring. It also rapidly debrides wounds and removes malodor. Its anti-inflammatory activity reduces edema and exudate and prevents or minimizes hypertrophic scarring. It also stimulates the growth of granulation tissue and epithelial tissue so that healing is hastened. Furthermore, it creates a nonadherent interface between the wound and the dressing so that dressings may be easily removed without pain or damage to newly regrown tissue.”
Molan P (2006) The evidence supporting the use of honey as a wound dressing. The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds. 5(1), 40-54.
Irish J, Blair S, Carter DA. The antibacterial activity of honey derived from Australian flora. PLoS One. 2011;6(3):e18229. Published 2011 Mar 28. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018229
Manning, R J. (2011), Research into Western Australian honeys. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth. Report.