Why Manuka Honey?

What is Mānuka Honey?

Mānuka Honey is honey made by bees foraging on the nectar of the flowering Mānuka tree, which is native to, and grows mainly in New Zealand. Mānuka honey has been termed a "superfood" for its overall health and wellness properties. 

Research performed in New Zealand & in Germany in the 1990s identified a unique and potent antibacterial property of Mānuka honey, methylglyoxal (abbreviated MG or MGO) which stimulated worldwide interest and markets. Active Mānuka honey contains varying degrees of dietary methylglyoxal.

About the Bioactivity
of Mānuka Honey

Historically, until the early 1990s Mānuka honey was just one of many really nice honeys produced from flowering native New Zealand trees. Enter Dr. Peter Molan of the Waikato University in New Zealand, who through his research discovered a very unique and special property of Mānuka honey. Dr. Molan was studying the antiseptic property of honey which is attributed to the production of hydrogen peroxide when the enzyme glucose oxidase, produced by the bees as a honey preservative, comes in contact with moisture on the skin. 

However, this peroxide activity is easily destroyed by dilution and exposure to heat and light.  The key discovery that Dr. Molan made was that Mānuka honey had a different property, what he termed a non-peroxide activity (NPA).  This NPA property was found to be much more potent and stable, opening up the possibility of a wide range of uses.  Later researchers in Germany isolated dietary methylglyoxal, a naturally occurring organic compound as directly correlating with this NPA activity.   

-Mike Everly, Founder of Bees and Trees

How to Read a Manuka Honey Label and Understand the Ratings
Before you purchase Manuka honey, make sure you understand how to tell the difference between the options on the market.

Methylglyoxal (MG) in Mānuka Honey 

Professor Thomas Henle at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany set out to isolate what it was in Mānuka honey that was producing this more potent and stable non-peroxide activity. The compound, methylglyoxal (MG or MGO), was isolated as having a direct correlation to the NPA or UMF rating of Mānuka honey. Testing for MG levels has become the industry standard way to gauge the special properties of Mānuka Honey. NPA and UMF ratings are correlated to an actual MG test result.

The Testing Process

MG/MGO Testing

Mānuka Honey produced in New Zealand is typically sent to one of two independent labs to be tested for dietary Methylglyoxal (MG or MGO). The value of the honey when sold from producer to packer is directly proportional to this test result. Mānuka honey should either be labeled with the actual MG test results (in mg/kg), or with a correlated rating on the UMF (Unique Mānuka Factor) scale. The UMF trademark must be on the jar if they are using a UMF rating instead of the actual MG test result. Honey labeled with the UMF logo and rating is also tested for two additional chemical markers (HMF & Leptosperin). The relationship between MG & UMF is as follows (after threshold HMF and Leptosperin levels are met):

Mānuka Honey Activity Levels


Reading The Label

When you see anything else on a label of honey purporting to be Mānuka honey, you should steer well clear. Examples of what continues to show up on labels include: Active , Bio-Active , Total Activity , “K Factor plus a number typically ranging from 5+ to 20+. When labeled this way the company is trying to intentionally mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a high MG (or legitimate UMF) honey when in reality they are typically getting a very low concentration, or low activity (i.e., low MG value) honey. Most consumers are shocked to learn that 80% of the purported Mānuka honey in the US market employ these misleading labeling tactics. You can shop with confidence with Bees & Trees Mānuka honey. We make all of our test reports visible for every batch we produce."

Read More About the Science Behind Mānuka Honey

Below are links to research and news reports about Mānuka honey. Each of these links will take you off of our website. We do not take responsibility for the content on the linked sites.

Organized Directory of Research on Manuka Honey

The pace of scientific research into the wellness and healing properties of Mānuka Honey has accelerated in recent years. We review this information regularly and organize what we think are the best and most useful papers here.

General Science & Medical Research