5 Fascinating Facts About Manuka Honey
Honey is often used as a natural sweetener, but it is also championed for its possible healing properties.
In recent years, Manuka honey, a type of honey made from the flower nectar of the Manuka tree, a shrub native to New Zealand, has gained attention for its potential medicinal value.
Manuka honey is a monofloral honey, which means that bees produce it mainly from the nectar of a single plant species, in this case the Manuka tree. Monofloral types of honey are considered particularly desirable due to their high content of phenols, a type of compound that may provide antioxidants and other health benefits.
Manuka honey also contains a high amount of methylglyoxal (MGO), an antimicrobial marker that may be helpful in controlling microbial infections.
We’ve teamed up with Manuka honey brand Comvita to bring you five remarkable facts about this versatile product.
Additionally, the antimicrobial properties may make Manuka honey a potential candidate for use in natural antibiotics.
Keep in mind that not all Manuka honeys have the same antibacterial activity. The antibacterial strength of Manuka honey is rated based on a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating, which is measured by the honey’s MGO and total phenols content.
Due to Manuka honey’s unique benefits and specific production requirements, prices are often higher than other types of honey, ranging from around $30 to over $1,000 per bottle depending on the UMF. of honey.
An early lack of regulation combined with high demand led to a flood of counterfeit Manuka honey sellers. Sometimes sellers may mistakenly identify multifloral honey or lower quality diluted honey as monofloral Manuka honey.
In addition to counterfeits, the popularity of Manuka honey has also contributed to an increase in hive thefts and honey poachers.
In December 2017, the science program of the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) created regulations to verify the quality of Manuka honey and standardize its scientific definition. However, it is important to note that the MPI only started enforcing the regulations in August 2018. According to the regulations, the honey must pass a DNA test to confirm the Manuka pollen DNA.
In addition to testing, MPI has introduced supply chain requirements to help trace Manuka products.
If you’re buying Manuka honey, here are some things to look for to help you determine if it’s genuine:
- Honey must be labeled with the guaranteed MGO content indicated.
- The label must have a UMF mark that guarantees the purity, potency and authenticity of Manuka honey.
- The label says it’s from New Zealand.
Comvita Monofloral Raw Manuka Honey from New Zealand is UMF™ certified and independently tested.
For Manuka honey to be considered monofloral, the bees that create it must get the majority of their nectar from Manuka trees. This raises several challenges.
First, the flowering season is only around 6-12 weeks across New Zealand or around 4-6 weeks in any particular location, so there is only a short window for the bees to get the right nectar for Manuka honey. If it is raining or windy during the blooming season, the bees may reduce their foraging time and the Manuka flowers may be damaged.
Second, according to The Manuka and Kanuka Plantation Guide from 2017, some experienced beekeepers report that Manuka is not a favorite flower for bees, which may cause them to forage from other sources. This is because Manuka flowers produce only very small droplets of nectar, while other flowers produce larger volumes of nectar (e.g. clover).
Sometimes bees may search for more attractive sources of nectar. This can decrease the MGO of honey and also make it multifloral.
The Manuka and Kanuka Planting Guide states that some honey growers surround their hives with at least 99 to 124 acres (40 to 50 ha) of Manuka shrubs to try to reduce the likelihood of bees flying outside. this range and dilutes the nectar.
It takes beekeepers with decades of experience to navigate weather patterns and floral locations to obtain pure Manuka Honey.
Not only do Manuka products contain properties that can benefit our health, but Manuka is also helpful for the environment. Manuka shrubs provide benefits including reducing erosion, improving the condition of waterways and promoting biodiversity.
Some of the ways Manuka plants improve the health of waterways are by providing shade for other plants to grow and by establishing roots near the banks, which reduces erosion. This promotes biodiversity as Manuka bushes attract birds, insects and livestock.
Manuka seedlings also play an important role in the forest regeneration process, as they are often among the first plants to sprout after a fire. They can survive harsh conditions and help establish a suitable environment for other plant species to take over.
To support this ongoing regeneration process, Comvita continues to plant Manuka seedlings and has planted over 7 million trees in New Zealand to date.
There are approximately 300 types of honey, but the nectar sources used to produce each honey result in different nutrient compositions.
What makes Manuka honey unique from other types of honey is that the nectar from Manuka flowers provides a high amount of MGO and phenolic compounds. These nutrients correlate with rich antibacterial and antioxidant values. The benefits of Manuka honey include:
- Rich in antioxidants: Research suggests that Manuka honey may help protect against oxidative stress and aid wound healing.
- Antimicrobial: Manuka honey’s antibacterial activity can be helpful in boosting the immune system and (when used topically) fighting infections such as diabetic ulcers.
- Energy Booster: Honey is rich in carbohydrates, a source of energy.
Manuka honey, a monofloral honey made from Manuka flower nectar, is unique from other types of honey because it contains high amounts of methylglyoxal and phenolic compounds. These substances are associated with rich antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, contributing to the health benefits of Manuka honey.
Consider incorporating Manuka Honey into your daily routine by adding a teaspoon or 2 to your favorite tea, smoothies, yogurt, toast or recipes.
Although honey is safe for most adults, it should not be given to children under 12 months of age due to the potential for botulism poisoning at this age. It should also be avoided by people allergic to pollen. Honey may interact with certain medications and supplements, so consult your healthcare professional to determine if it is suitable for your daily routine.