The science of Mānuka honey
Mānuka honey is a natural wonder. It contains a unique blend of beneficial oligosaccharides (sugars), amino acids, and many other powerful polyphenolic and other plant-derived compounds.
For centuries, Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand have used Mānuka products in their rongoā (traditional medicine). And with the challenges faced by science and medicine, we believe the unique properties of Mānuka honey deserve ongoing investigation.
All honeys are not created equal
Hydrogen peroxide gives most honey its antibiotic quality. But Mānuka honey has another rare antibacterial property called non-peroxide activity (NPA) – due to its incredibly high levels of methylglyoxal (MGO), which is converted from dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – in Mānuka nectar. The more MGO, the more powerful its antimicrobial punch. The UMF™ rating reflects the concentration of Mānuka honey’s signature active compounds, including MGO, DHA and leptosperin.
A taste of the scientific research
- Dr Peter Molan – one of the world’s leading Mānuka honey scientists – has extensively studied and written about its benefits and implications for health and medicine. This site is a great starting point for your own research.
- Research has also shown in vitro and in vivo evidence that honey, particularly Mānuka honey, “eliminates bacteria, resolves chronic inflammation, and promotes faster wound healing” when applied to wounds.
- In another study, Mānuka honey was shown to be effective against H. pylori, the cause of most stomach ulcers.
- Research by the University of Southampton suggests Mānuka honey may work against the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections in catheter patients.
- Reducing plaque build-up prevents gingivitis, the precursor to gum disease. A 2010 study pitted Mānuka honey against chlorhexidine mouthwash and found it inhibited plaque just as well, without chlorhexidine’s side effects of tooth staining, permanent taste alteration and increased tartar formation.
- Unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, Mānuka honey can be effective against "superbugs" – resistant microbes like MRSA, which need special antibiotics to treat them.
- Scientists Dr Rowena Jenkins and Dr Aled Roberts discovered that using Mānuka honey could be an alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics to treat antimicrobial resistant respiratory infections, like the deadly bacteria of Cystic Fibrosis infections.
We agree with many of the scientists referenced above that more research needs to be done into harnessing the unique properties of Mānuka honey. In the meantime, we hope you’ll keep enjoying this delicious natural food.
Please don’t use Mānuka honey if you have diabetes or an allergy to bees. And please don’t give honey of any kind to children under the age of one.