Residents say honey cream provides sweet relief for various skin irritations

By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Tyler Aita was tired of feeling stung by his dry, crackly knuckles. So when a friend suggested he try a honey of a miracle cream, he was a little skeptical but eager to try something new to heal the severe eczema on his hands. The 23-year-old Newcastle residents is one of several locals who've caught onto the buzz of active manuka honey and its ability to heal most wounds and skin irritants. The honey comes from the nectar of the manuka bush, which is a tea-tree variety native to New Zealand. The Federal Food and Drug Administration recently approved the honey, distributed locally by Manuka Naturals, for use on a variety of skin ailments. Honestly, after the first application I immediately felt results on my skin. The itchiness was gone and I've pretty much been using it ever since for about two years, Aita said. The eczema on Aita's hands caused them to crack and bleed often. He said other prescribed ointments had provided some relief but never really eliminated the problem. Now, he said he uses the honey cream twice a day. Providing the cream to Auburn-area residents was something Joanne Neft began to get the idea for during a three-hour bus trip in New Zealand. She and her travel partner, a pharmacist, were told of a store selling the cream made with honey that helped people with eczema. Neft decided to stop in and buy some for her sister, who suffered from the itchy skin condition. Her sister loved the cream and asked Neft to order more. Two coworkers also asked Neft to order some for their children. That was about three years ago and since then Neft has sold several thousand bottles in the area. I thought, if that many people have interest and it really works, I owe it to these people, Neft said. Neft, an Auburn resident who owns Manuka Naturals based in Newcastle, distributes the cream to local stores including Auburn Drug, Eisley's Nursery and Sunrise Natural Foods. Sandra Helms, Auburn Nutrition Center owner, said it took one bottle to clear her arm of long-time eczema. Like Aita, she was initially hesitant about trying the product. It was sort of sticky and I thought, ˜oh my goodness, how is this going to work?' Helms said. The results were unexpected. The eczema cleared in a day and has not returned in over a year, Helms said. Her store sells the cream and she often hears back from customers who've had success with it. The cream has also been successful on rashes, open wounds, burns, spider bites and poison oak, Neft said. Neft cautions users to only apply a dime-sized amount of the cream to start. She also said there are some people for who the cream is not effective. A cream with 30 percent active manuka honey costs about $31 for a 1.6 fluid ounce bottle with some bottles lasting up to a year. Aita said he usually buys a new bottle every few months to keep up with his daily use of the product. It's the best thing pretty much for my hands and skin, Aita said.