Get winter ready: Dr Fred Pescatore recommends Manuka Honey

It’s that time of the year again - winter! Along with winter comes those annoying colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, coughs and sore throats.

Respiratory illnesses share many of the same symptoms — a fever, chills, coughing, tiredness, a sore throat, body aches, headaches, etc; that it is often hard to tell the difference.

My usual recommendations for warding off these illnesses and the 7 to 10 days of misery that goes along with it, that has served me and my patients well, is to make sure to take plenty of Vitamin C, D3, Zinc and A.

However, this season, I stumbled upon something to add to that arsenal of protection - Manuka honey. All kinds of honey have been used as natural antibiotics throughout the centuries.

It’s antibacterial and bacterial resistant. This means that bacteria shouldn’t be able to build up a tolerance to its antibacterial effects. It is also anti-viral which means that manuka honey can be a great help during colds (which can be caused by a virus or a bacteria) and the flu - which is a virus. Double duty. Not only that but the honey can help relieve some of the symptoms like a sore throat.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why something as simple as this specific type of honey may be so effective during the winter months.

All forms of honey are acidic and have a pH between 3.2 and 4.5. The acidic properties of honey have been shown to promote healing.

Honey also draws water out of the cells of invading bacteria. Bacteria, just like you and I need water to grow and survive. Drawing the water out of these foreign invaders will kill them off.

In recent years, researchers have discovered that honey’s power to kill germs comes from hydrogen peroxide produced with the help of a bee enzyme. And this further emphasizes to me, at least, that Mother Nature provides everything we need - if we only look for it.

Dozens of species of bacteria are susceptible to Manuka honey, including some of the biggies like Staphyl and Strep. Interestingly enough, Manuka also appears to be effective against C. difficile of C.diff. This is great news as many hospitals and other health care facilities struggle to treat this highly resistant bug, often losing the battle.

The other property that fascinated me is that Manuka honey appears to be able to attack bacterial and viral strains that put out what we call biofilms. Biofilms are thin slippery layers of bacteria that form something like a protective layer around the infection so antibiotics or anti-viral agent can’t reach it. Many people are sick for years with these types of infections. And to date, there are no reports of microbial resistance to Manuka.

Manuka honey contains a substance called methylglyoxal or MGO for short. This is the unique antibacterial factor. The greater the number the stronger the honey you are buying is.

So, I guess the biggest question now is, how do I use it?

The beauty is - you can take it anyway you want - on food; in your morning coffee or tea - or straight from the jar. If you are sick, I would recommend 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.

If you have a sore throat or if you just want to be proactive (which is always my strategy during cold/flu season), take 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey every day. This may help boost your immune system and prevent you from getting sick. If you already have a sore throat, it can help ease your symptoms.

And in the case of this winter - all of those pesky symptoms we’ve discussed are also the same for COVID-19. But, as I am telling my patients, look for the extreme loss of taste and smell; and if in any doubt, get a test to be certain. Find out where you can do this before you get sick.

Since all upper respiratory illnesses — colds, the flu, and COVID-19 — spread through respiratory droplets, taking the same precautions that we have been practicing for months now: wear a mask over your nose and mouth, keep at least 6 feet away from other people, and wash your hands often. It isn’t that hard!!

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