Manuka Honey: What’s the Buzz About?

The Origin of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a specialty honey that is created by honeybees that pollinate New Zealand’s indigenous Manuka bush (Leptospermum scopariu). To ensure the honeybees feed mainly off the nectar of this particular bush, the hives are placed in areas dominated by the Manuka tree (relative to the Tea Tree). Reaching these areas can be difficult as they often grow in exceptionally remote and rough terrain.

Components, and Benefits

Manuka Honey can be found in the kitchen cabinet of most honey lovers. Not necessarily for its strong earthy flavour, but mostly for its many health benefits. It is naturally full of B-vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants like phenolic compounds, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. One of the most popular uses of Manuka honey is the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, like infections and burn wounds. When honey is put on a wound, it will absorb the moisture from the wound. Along with the moisture, the impurities will be absorbed as well. This will allow your skin to heal quicker. So why would you want to use Manuka honey to treat skin conditions, instead of regular honey? The ingredient that makes this honey so special is MGO (methylglyoxal), which can not be found in regular honey. This natural compound has long lasting, stable antibacterial activity, and dries out the bacteria that causes infections. 

Next to treating a variety of skin conditions, it can also be used to treat cold and flu symptoms, reduce sore throats, support digestive health, strengthen bones and teeth, and improve sleep.

The Grading System

With a lot of different brands selling Manuka honey, how do you know which one is the best? There are three ways that this specialty honey is graded; with the help of UMF, MGO, and K-Factor.

UMF: UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. This grading system was developed by the UMF Honey Association in New Zealand, and grades the antibacterial activity within the honey. The higher the number, the higher the purity and quality. The numbers range between 5+ to 30+.

MGO: The MGO grading system was developed in 2008 by Professor Thomas Henle. This grading system reflects the level of methylglyoxal that the honey contains. For example, MGO 100+ has at least 100 mg of MGO per kg of honey. The more MGO, the better. This way of grading is mainly used by the brand Manuka Health.

KFactor: The brand Wedderspoon uses K-Factor as a grading system. This system compares the quality of the honey to the guidelines and standards that were developed by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries to regulate the export of Manuka honey.
KFactor 12: A Multifloral honey, which means it’s created from a variety of plant sources, with Manuka being a significant source.
KFactor 16: A Monofloral honey, collected entirely or mostly from the Manuka plant. KFactor 16 is around MGO 100.

How to Use Manuka Honey

There are tons of recipes posted online. Some people like to just eat it off the spoon, whereas others like to apply it topically, or take it as cough drops. We recommend researching the best way to use it for your particular ailment. Do you have problems with your digestive health? Eat one teaspoon 1-3 times a day. You can mix it in yogurt or just eat it straight out of the jar. We’ve even heard positive feedback from people dealing with Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes stomach ulcers. Taking Manuka honey daily can eventually kill the bacteria which causes the ulcers (it will take longer than prescription drugs, but is very effective). Do you have trouble sleeping? Put some in warm milk before bed time. When mixed with warm liquids (not hot), it still has its antibacterial activity, it will however kill the enzymes. Do you struggle with irritation associated with acne? Make your own Manuka face mask to balance your skins pH level. There are endless of possibilities with this amazing healing honey. Research, learn, and give it a try!

Urban Bee Honey product photo
  Manuka KFactor 16

Wedderspoon, KFactor.