Manuka honey is different from regular honey and is believed to have been used by native Australian and Māori cultures for thousands of years for its believed medicinal properties.
The active quality of honey is determined by which plant flowers bees visit to collect the nectar that is turned into honey. Manuka honey is sourced only from a specific tree species, called Leptospermum, and the nectar that bees obtain from this plant is very different to that of other flora.
How is Manuka honey different to other honeys?
Manuka honey can only be produced from Leptospermum trees and has greater antibacterial action compared to regular honey. This is due to a component in the honey called methylglyoxal (MGO). MGO comes from the conversion of dihydroxyactone that is found in the nectar of Manuka plants. While MGO may be present in many types of honey, it is found at a much higher level in Manuka honey.
What's the difference between Australian and New Zealand Manuka?
While the Manuka honey that comes from Australia is different to the Manuka honey that comes from New Zealand it isn’t a reflection of the quality, potency or health benefits of the honey. 16% of Australian Manuka-style honey is actually more potent than New Zealand hospital-grade Manuka honey.
The key difference between Australian and New Zealand Manuka honey is that they are sourced from geographically different locations. Both Australia and New Zealand Manuka honey is produced from bees that have foraged Leptospermum trees, a plant that is native to Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand only has one species of Leptospermum tree and that is the Leptospermum scoparium. Whereas Australia has 85 of the 87 recorded species of Leptospermum trees including Leptospermum scoparium. Out of our 85 different species, just under 10 are considered bioactive with further research underway to identify more.
The Manuka honey that comes from these trees can vary in a natural compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) that is an active ingredient that contributes to the beneficial anti-bacterial action of the Manuka honey. MGO comes from an organic compound in the nectar of some Leptospermum trees called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). As Leptospermum trees produce various amounts of DHA there are various anti-bacterial strengths of Manuka honey. It doesn’t matter if the Leptospermum tree is located in Australia or New Zealand but rather how much DHA and MGO is found in the Leptospermum tree.
How to use Manuka honey
Manuka is renowned for its active properties, this unique honey has been studied for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
- Antimicrobial properties– high strength Manuka honey may be able to eliminate superbugs that are antibiotic resistant bacteria and other microbes that are difficult to treat.
- Anti-inflammatory properties – Manuka honey has reported ant-inflammatory activity.
- Wound healing properties – Research has shown Manuka honey promotes wound healing.
How is the strength of Manuka honey measured?
What to consider when buying Manuka honey?
When choosing Manuka honey, it is worth considering the strength, independent testing, quality and where the Manuka honey has been sourced.
- Strength – look for the non-peroxide activity (NPA) or methylglyoxal (MGO) rating to indicate the antibacterial strength of the Manuka honey. The higher the rating suggests the higher the antibacterial action.
- Independent testing – choose a Manuka honey that has had independent testing to qualify authenticity and that it is of a high strength.
- Quality – look for a Manuka honey that has been sourced and packaged in a safe manner and that has strict quality requirements.
- Local – consider choosing a local Manuka honey that has been sourced from native Australian Leptospermum trees so you receive a 100% pure Australian Manuka honey.
If you are looking for a delicious superfood to support your health and wellbeing choose a quality Australian Manuka honey with a high MGO rating.