Manuka Honey's Medicinal Benefits

The New Zealand honey is quickly becoming the hottest holistic medicine product on the market, treating gastrointestinal, dermal and other conditions.

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Wedderspoon’s Canadian branch was founded in 2005 by Nelson’s friends in Vancouver, who were looking to explore an untapped market. A year later, Nelson agreed to help by selling a few jars in Malvern. The business exploded from there, becoming one of’s top 100 grocery purveyors in 2009. More recently, Wedderspoon earned awards from Vancouver’s Mid-Island Science, Technology & Innovation Council.

You can’t find manuka honey anywhere. New Zealand’s climate is optimal for the bush, and few other environments are effective incubators. Nelson and her friends tried their luck in Canada. Out of the 10,000 seeds planted, a mere two bushes survived.

These days, a 12-ounce jar of manuka honey sells for more than $30. But that’s hardly been a deterrent. Nelson says Wedderspoon’s sales have increased by 1,538 percent since 2007, and they surpassed $2.5 million in 2012. More than 260,000 jars of honey have been sold in the past six years, and that doesn’t include ancillary products like travel packets, throat lozenges and lip balms.

Then there’s the much-buzzed-about Queen of the Hive face contour mask with manuka honey and bee venom, which tricks the skin into thinking it’s been stung, prompting the release of collagen and elastin. Similar formulas have been used by Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Middleton, who swear by the skin-tightening properties.

Anecdotal accounts of manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory benefits can be traced back to the late 19th century. “Beekeepers who had arthritis found that, after they were stung several times, their symptoms were alleviated,” Nelson says. “We found that adding bee venom to the honey enhanced its anti-inflammatory prop-erties. Rather than getting stung over and over again, people can now take this method orally.”

Interestingly, Nelson is allergic to bee stings. Yet, she’s able to ingest the honey and apply it to her skin without any adverse effects. Still, the labels recommend consulting with a doctor and doing a patch test to check for any reaction.

As word has spread locally about Wedderspoon, the demand has increased for the all-natural panacea, and the honey business in New Zealand has become increasingly aggressive.

“The competition is getting cutthroat,” Nelson admits. “More and more people want to get their hands on it. There’s a reason it’s called liquid gold.”

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See page 3 for "Bee Averages: The Numbers Behind the Sticky Stuff"
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