You may have heard about Manuka honey but aren’t sure what it is or how it differs from so-called “regular” honey. So what’s so great about Manuka honey compared to other raw honeys? It has been hailed for many years for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and wound healing properties and is used in hospitals to combat MRSA staph infections.
Manuka honey is a monofloral honey made from European honey bees that feed on the nectar and pollen of the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) that is found in Australia and New Zealand. In order to be called Manuka honey, 70% of its pollen content should come from the manuka plant. It has a stronger, more earthy flavor than most other honey.
One of the things that makes Manuka stand out from other honeys is its high levels of hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal (MG), both of which contribute to its antibiotic properties. While all honeys contain these to a certain extent, they do not contain as much as active Manuka honey. Manuka can have as much as 100 times as much MG as regular honey.
Not all honey labelled as Manuka has these powerful antibiotic properties, which is why several ratings scales have been developed. One is the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating which was developed by Dr. Peter Molan, head of honey research at Waikato University in New Zealand. The minimum UMF factor for Manuka to be considered medicinal is 10, which officially makes it “active” Manuka honey, meaning it has active medicinal properties. In general, the higher the UMF rating, the higher the price.
However, there have been challengers to this rating system. Kerry Paul, chief executive of Manuka Health, measures his honey based on the MGO rating system. This system measures the methylglyoxal (MGO) content in the honey. Manuka Health is currently the only manuka that uses this ratings system.
Other brands ignore the UMF and MGO ratings altogether and simply call their honeys “active” and give them a rating from 10 to 25. This labeling is not regulated and there is no way to know what you are really getting with these honeys.
We recommend sticking with Manuka honey with a UMF rating or MGO rating if you’re going to buy a honey from Manuka Health. There are a lot of counterfeit Manuka honeys on the market and at the prices generally being charged, you want to make sure you’re getting the real deal.