Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is different from regular honey. Active Manuka Honey is a natural superfood sourced from bees who have foraged from the flowering Manuka plant, Leptospermum, native to Australia and New Zealand. The indigenous people from both lands have been using Manuka in their traditional medicines for centuries.
The Manuka honey that comes from these trees can vary in a natural compound called methylglyoxal (MGO), the 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. Today, following extensive clinical testing in Australia, New Zealand and other countries, the unique value of Manuka has been recognized worldwide.

What is Manuka honey used for?

Manuka is renowned for its bioactive 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.

What is the difference between Australian Manuka 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. In fact, 16% of Australian Manuka honey is more potent than New Zealand hospital-grade Manuka honey.

Australia’s warmer climate provides very favourable conditions for growing Manuka plants that produce honey with high amounts of methylglyoxal (MGO), as acknowledged by world experts in honey production.

And Australia is home to more varieties of Leptospermum than anywhere else. New Zealand only has one species of Leptospermum tree and that is the Leptospermum scoparium. Whereas Australia has 84 of the 87 recorded species of Leptospermum trees including Leptospermum scoparium. Out of our 84 different species, just under 10 are considered bioactive with further research underway to identify more. This wider variety of Manuka blossoms also gives Australian Manuka honey a smoother, sweeter taste. So you get all of the benefits without compromising on flavour.

The warmer climatic conditions also mean that Australian Manuka Honey has a much longer liquid life so it can be enjoyed in a natural liquid state without the creaming process typically required for New Zealand Manuka Honey, as their floral species is prone to developing large unpalatable crystals.

You can also find the latest Australian Manuka honey fact sheet here.

How is Manuka honey different to other honey?

Not all honey is active. The active quality of honey is determined by which flowers the bees visit to collect the nectar that they turn into honey. Manuka honey is sourced from a specific tree species called Leptospermum and the nectar that bees obtain from this plant is very different to that of other flora used for regular honey.

The Manuka honey from Leptospermum trees 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.

Manuka honey also differs from regular honey as high strengths of this honey has the potential to kill superbugs such as antibiotic resistant bacteria and microbes that may be difficult to treat. It is also been found to promote wound healing.

How is the strength of Manuka honey measured?

Not all Leptospermum species produce ‘active Manuka’ with antibacterial properties. Laboratory tests are required to determine the presence and strength of the activity level.

The strength of Manuka honey is measured by its antibacterial activity. There are a number of measures used to show the antibacterial strength of Manuka honey with the most common measures including methylglyoxal (MGO), non-peroxide activity (NPA) and unique Manuka factor (UMF).

The use of these different measurement systems can create confusion but MGO is one of the most common systems used.

The higher the number for each measure, the higher the antibacterial action. For example, Manuka honey with an MGO of 100+ is more antibacterial than Manuka honey with an MGO of 30+.

MGO RatingUMF or NPA Equivalent
MGO 30+2.7+
MGO 85+5+
MGO 100+6+
MGO 250+10+
MGO 300+11+
MGO 400+13+
MGO 550+16+
MGO 850+20+

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 MGO (methylglyoxal) or the NPA or UMF 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 standards - often a requirement for certification by credible industry bodies such as the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA).

If you are looking for a delicious superfood to support your health and wellbeing choose a quality Australian Manuka honey. [1]

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