Why Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is used as a natural ointment for wounds of all kinds.  It has been hailed as a go-to germ fighter in an age of resistance to conventional antibiotics.  Proponents also claim that Manuka honey can treat other conditions from acne to sinus issues.

Manuka honey hasn’t been used very long as a traditional remedy.  European honey bees introduced it to the area in the early 19th century. When bees pollinate from the New Zealand manuka tree their honey is more potent than standard honey bee honey. This is because it has a higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO).

Is Manuka Emporium a ‘pure’ honey?

The description “Pure Honey” means that nothing has been added to the product extracted from the hives rather than that it icomprises 100% manuka honey.  However, it would be extremely rare to find a ‘100% pure’ varietal of honey – bees forage for nectar in a radius of around 3km from their hive and thus a number of different sources of nectar usually contribute to the honey.  To increase the percentage of a single source of nectar the hives need to be positioned where there are very limited types of flowers and nectar.

 

What is wrong with heat-treated honey?

It is still honey, but the squeezable, plastic bottles you find in grocery stores labelled as ‘honey’ contain a homogenized product void of nuance.  In an effort to offer a consistent taste, colour, and viscosity, the harvested honey is melted down and processed to create a generic syrup. This version of honey never excites the taste-buds.

 

Why do bees store honey in a hive?

Honeybees eat nectar straight from the flower, but they also bring nectar and pollen back to the hive where the pollen, high in protein and fat, is stored as bee bread and is fed to the hive’s brood, and the high-energy nectar is stored as honey for times when the weather is not conducive to foraging such as the harsh winter months, rainy seasons, and times of drought.

How is nectar turned into honey?

While out foraging, honeybees mix the collected nectar with enzymes in their mouth, then store the nectar solution in a special pouch inside their abdomen called a ‘honey stomach’. The enzymes break down the sugar into simpler forms which resist bacterial growth. Back at the hive, the worker bees start to dehydrate the nectar/enzyme solution by moving the nectar around in their mouths then deposit it into hexagonal cells that make up the hive. The dehydration process is then continued by the house bees. The house bees fan the filled hive cells with their wings in order to bring the water content below 18% at which point the cell is capped with wax and its contents are considered honey. This honey stays unspoiled and unfermented for years…even ancient Egyptian tombs have been found to contain unspoiled honey!

The beekeepers take the frames from hives that are full of capped honey to their extraction facility. The caps on the cells of are removed and the frames are then quickly spun in an extractor’s centrifuge. The honey slowly pours out of a spout at the bottom of the extractor into a bucket and is filtered. The honey that remains is raw, which means it is never heated.

 

What is manuka honey MGO? 

Methylglyoxal, or MGO, is the name of the main active antimicrobial constituent in Manuka honey. The reason why the content of methylglyoxal is measured is to estimate the therapeutic benefits of the honey for the final consumer.  100 mg of MGO/ kg of manuka honey is the minimum content necessary to stop the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli or S. aureus.  Moreover, depending on storage conditions, the methylglyoxal content of the honey may fluctuate.

 

What is manuka honey UMF? 

Unique manuka factor, or UMF, is a special certification that measures the antibacterial activity of manuka honey.  The honey owes its antimicrobial action to a compound called methylglyoxal, also known as the unique manuka factor because it is an element unique to manuka honeys. Not all manuka honeys have methylglyoxal, or in the same amount. This is why the UMF grading goes from UMF 5+ to UMF 10+, UMF 15+, UMF 20+ and UMF 25+.

What is manuka honey KFactor? 

KFactor is a manuka honey grading that sets out to grade the purity of manuka honey, not its medicinal properties. KFactor basically measures the pollen content of the honey, in the idea that the more manuka pollen the honey contains, the higher its purity and, naturally, the stronger its therapeutic action. The grading system goes from K12 (with a minimum of about 65% manuka pollen) to K16 (75%) and K22 (90%).

 

What is BioActive, TA or A manuka honey? 

It is another grading of manuka honey, but offers no certified guarantee of its properties or therapeutic activity.

 

What is the difference between Australian and New Zealand manuka honey?

Other tree species from the same family as manuka, notably Kanuka or white tea tree (Kunzea ericoides) and tantoon or tea tree (Leptospermum polygalifolium) are an important source of nectar and produce a honey very similar to manuka in terms of composition, but also appearance. However, Kanuka honey from Kunzea ericoides and the so-called Australian manuka honey, Berringa honey or Jelly Bush honey from Leptospermum polygalifolium are not the same thing as the real New Zealand manuka honey. 

 

What does manuka honey look like? The variety goes from a light amber (light brownish yellow) color with beige-cream undertones to a medium-amber (medium brownish yellow) with a pale brownish tone. Color may differ slightly depending on where and when the honey is produced and whether or not it may be contaminated with small amounts of flower nectar from other species. Processing, climate and weather conditions may also lead to small differences in appearance. Generally, manuka honey is lighter-colored than kanuka honey. Manuka honey has a slow crystallization time and forms coarse crystals. This has some producers cream the honey for a softer texture.

 

What the research says

Unlike most alternative treatments, there’s scientific evidence to support the healing benefits of Manuka honey. These benefits include:

Healing wounds

As with other honeys, Manuka honey can help heal wounds. All forms of honey are acidic and have a pH between 3.2 and 4.5. The acidic properties of honey have been shown to promote healing.

The acidity also blocks enzymes that break down the proteins and peptides the body needs to repair itself. The high concentration of sugar in honey also helps protect wounds.

Honey is low in moisture and draws fluid from a wound. This helps remove waste and speed along the healing process. Honey also draws water out of the cells of invading bacteria. Bacteria need water to grow and survive. Drawing the water out of invading bacteria will kill them off.

Antiviral properties

All kinds of honey have been used as natural antibiotics throughout the centuries. In recent years, researchers have discovered that honey’s power to kill germs comes from hydrogen peroxide produced with the help of a bee enzyme.

Manuka honey takes this a step further by attacking germs with a substance called MGO. Found in the nectar of some Manuka plants, this substance helps heal both minor and chronic wounds.

Because of this, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved bandages infused with Manuka honey for both over-the-counter and prescription sales.

The more MGO there is in the honey, the more antiviral and antibacterial properties

 

Why is there crystallisation? Is the product still OK to consume?

Granulation or crystallisation of honey is a natural process and doesn’t affect the quality or safety of the honey. Crystallisation occurs more commonly with raw, unprocessed honey and also in colder temperatures.

Honey is approximately 80% sugar and 20% moisture, and these factors continually try to balance themselves in the environment. How fast honey develops crystals depends on the types of sugars that are in the honey (fructose or glucose). Crystallisation is simply the water separating from the glucose molecule. Don’t confuse crystallisation with poor quality, in fact, it can often indicate that the honey is less processed – a pasteurised honey is less likely to crystallise.

 

Is Manuka honey safe when pregnant?

Yes, it is fine when pregnant and breastfeeding, as long as you don’t have an allergy to honey products.

 

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