Could a man with leather elbow patches ever be trusted?

The Good Life Letter 

26th June 2015

Do you remember science lessons at school?

Endless days of waiting for colour changes in chemical mixtures as they were heated over a Bunsen burner with the power of a cheap Zippo lighter.

Occasionally the teacher would go mad and actually do something exciting like chuck a piece of sodium onto a water bath and we’d watch it whizz around in a ball of flame...or make a mixture of hydrogen and chlorine gas explode with a camera flash gun.

But mostly it was the average dull stuff that was designed to stifle the chance of any of us wanting to become scientists.

Makes me wonder what kind of schools our actual scientists went to because their experience had to be better than mine...or what type of people they are that still wanted to follow that career even after being bored to death.

Rarely did we, as a bunch of spotty teenagers, ever get to do anything that would be taken seriously or inform public opinion.

I think anything that we did achieve was more by accident than design anyway!

So, when I read the stories generated by a group of kids in Islington I was a little sceptical I must admit.

The banner headline in The Times read ‘School experiment debunks Gwyneth’s manuka honey myths’ and I couldn’t help but recall my own experimental science, and how the local papers might have reported it...

...’Brilliant student demonstrates how broad beans lean towards light as they grow – explain that Percy Thrower!’ was surely a headline that they should have run...

...’Delighted teacher praises class who proved the existence of water in all three of its elemental states depending upon the energy present at the time’ was another story the Monmouthshire Beacon should have run with...

...’Local school delights in achievements of budding future Nobel prize winner who moves iron fillings with a magnet’...

Oh if only I had grown up in Islington!

Why a school project isn’t science

So, the story was that Gillespie Primary School in Islington ran an experiment where they tested volunteers by giving some manuka honey, another group plain honey and measured their responses alongside a control group.

Over a ten week period the school collected data by asking each person how they felt, then correlated the results to show that there was no difference between the health of the manuka group and the plain honey or control.

The Times claimed that this was the first ever randomised controlled experiment for honey in the UK, and therefore was prepared to take the result as absolute proof that the ‘£100 per kilo honey wasn’t all it is cracked up to be’.

Now I don’t want to upset class 5C but this is complete rubbish!

For a start the number of participants was too small to have any relevance as a trial, even if the protocol of the experiment was viable.

Secondly, the honey being used was purchased locally and had not been subject to any verification tests at all, so it might not have been pure manuka... or even manuka honey at all – we know that this product is one of the most faked in the world.

Lastly, asking a few kids how they feel isn’t really a scientific test of health is it? Surely even the dumbest class teacher could have introduced thermometers to check temperatures, even if daily blood assays and skin swabs were beyond them.

To say that the admirable act of a primary school class has proven that manuka honey has no health value is therefore somewhat overplaying the science.

Besides their findings are directly contradicted every single day by newly published papers, carried out by proper card carrying scientists following highly controlled experiments.

A quick look at the research journals shows evidence for this fantastic medicinal honey in wound control, respiratory infection treatment, digestive system rehabilitation and even oral cancer cures – and they were all published in major peer reviewed journals in the last two months.

Who the heck is Rachel Cooke?

On first reading of the articles at the beginning of June I wasn’t going to comment as I thought to do so a little uncharitable to the school kids...

...then I happened upon the Observer Food Monthly last weekend and my blood boiled.

The source of my rage was one of their contributors Rachel Cooke who wrote ‘Even children now know that manuka, the honey of celebrities, is hyped and overpriced. So, what’s Gwyneth going to do now?’

Her article then proceeded to show that she knew nothing about science or food nor has even a basic grasp of why so many people really like honey – let alone manuka.

What made me most angry though was that despite her attention grabbing headline there was no substance to her claim that this fantastic healing honey is either hyped or overpriced – except the findings of the school project that is!

Well Ma’am here are the real facts for you:

  • Good quality, pure and raw manuka honey isn’t cheap and you won’t find it in an Islington corner shop – nor in many supermarkets either. It is a rare commodity that needs to be sought out like a fine wine, not bought in bulk.
  • Manuka has passed all of the rigors of scientific testing and clearly has many health benefits. These are published, reviewed and their findings implemented in hospitals throughout the world. But again you need to get the raw and pure honey to get the benefit rather than over processed mixtures of honey claiming to be the real deal.
  • This honey isn’t available to everyone in its truly raw and pure form as the entire production from New Zealand only amounts to 1,700 tonnes, and this doesn’t make it to the supermarket shelves in pure and raw form.

If you really want 100% guaranteed manuka honey that is as pure as when it was lifted from the hive there are very few places that stock it.
Fortunately, those of us in the know have access to it...

...and we are definitely much healthier as a result!

Get your new season raw and pure manuka honey – fresh stock available

Yours, as always




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