Chestnut Honey or Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is the most famous medical honey for treating wounds. It is produced by bees that forage on the flowers of manuka, a shrub native to New Zealand. This honey is renowned for its unique antibacterial properties thanks to the presence of methylglyoxal (MGO), an organic chemical compound. This substance is found in a variable concentration depending on whether it is young honey or late honey. This variation can range from 48mg/kg to 835 mg/kg. In conclusion, the name manuka honey alone is not enough to guarantee clinical effectiveness for treating wounds.

Chestnut honey, for its part, is produced thanks to bees which only come to gather nectar from chestnut flowers. This phenomenon is possible because the chestnut tree flowers late (early July). Chestnut honey is also renowned for its medicinal properties, thanks to an enzyme: glucose oxidase (GOX) which is secreted by the hypopharyngeal glands of bees during the transformation of nectar into honey. The chestnut flower contains a unique acid (kynurenic acid) which helps boost the production of this enzyme in bees. This makes it possible to achieve sufficient concentrations to guarantee a clinical effect in healing.

The GOX enzyme produces hydrogen peroxide when honey comes into contact with the wound (see Molecules blog) via an oxidation reaction. This enzyme is not active in manuka honey due to the interaction between honey and methylglyoxal (MGO).

Why must honey contain an antibacterial substance to treat a wound?

Honey is mainly composed of sugars (+-80%). If these sugars allow skin cells to regenerate by providing them with energy, they also contribute to the proliferation of bacteria! This is why it is essential that honey contains an antibacterial substance to prevent the proliferation of these bacteria. There are very few honeys in "natural state" which are sufficiently rich to prevent the development of bacteria.

Now let's compare the two honeys

Let's focus on the differences between the two honeys. In manuka honey, the antibacterial activity is mainly linked to Methylglyoxal (MGO), which has antibacterial properties. However, MGO deactivates the enzyme glucose oxidase (GOX), which is supposed to create an oxidation reaction to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Chestnut honey allows this oxidation reaction and therefore the creation of hydrogen peroxide. Thanks to hydrogen peroxide, the wound will be disinfected more quickly. Chestnut honey contains more minerals than manuka honey, it also contains proline, key elements in wound healing. There is also a presence of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) in chestnut honey, which plays a role in cellular metabolism. The KYNA molecule refers to kynurenic acid. This is present in chestnut honey. Kynurenic acid has bactericidal activity. Kynurenic acids are non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonists. They will reduce irritability at pain receptors. They therefore have an antinociceptive (anti-pain) action. In addition, kynurenic acid will interrupt the bacterial quorum and stop the formation of the biofilm by disrupting communication between the bacteria.

In diabetic patients...

The use of manuka honey is not recommended in all patients. Indeed, in diabetic patients, methylglyoxal (MGO) can cause microvascular complications and negatively influence healing in the patient. It can also cause hypersensitization of the patient's pain receptors.

Since chestnut honey does not contain methylglyoxal (MGO) unlike manuka honey, it does not cause microvascular complications. In conclusion, it does not alter wound healing.

Acceleration of healing

Proline plays an essential role in accelerating healing (Reference to the Ponrasu study). The chestnut honey that we have selected is very rich in proline (500 to 1000 mg/kg). On the contrary, manuka honey, due to the presence of MGO, sees the action of proline inhibited.