Manuka Honey Active Ingredient – Help! – What Should I Know?
What is the Manuka honey active ingredient? Let us explain. Manuka honey is a type of monofloral honey – made from the bees visiting mainly one type of flower, in this case the Manuka bush. Manuka is a native plant to New Zealand, hence this type of honey only comes from New Zealand.
It is certainly possible to get Manuka mixed with other flower types in a mixed honey, such as New Zealand bush honey, or that has been blended with other types by the producer. Care should be taken here to know just what is in the jar, is it mixed, or is it only pure Manuka honey.
Help! – Is it true that Manuka is better for me than normal honeys?
Whoa, slow down. Before answering that we need to take a step back. Firstly, all (natural) honey can be good for you. All honey contains an enzyme that generates a hydrogen peroxide activity, this having known antiseptic properties. However the level of hydrogen peroxide activity can vary greatly between different honeys.
Now, most important – not all re the same! Some have higher levels of the Manuka honey active ingredient and some have almost none. This does make perfect sense once you think about it, as a natural product, you get a lot of natural variation. This is not a man made product produced to standard in a factory. Just like other honeys, all Manuka honey also contains the hydrogen peroxide activity.
Then, *some* of it has an extra, additional antibacterial property that is unique to some Manuka honey. It is much more stable than the hydrogen peroxide activity, and it is this extra non-peroxide activity that scientists have proven makes some Manuka honey special in terms of its healing properties. When you hear and read about the scientific research, and even clinical trials that have been done, they are based on using the correct antibacterial Manuka honey.
Providing that it is the correctly tested Manuka with proven antibacterial properties and the Manuka honey active ingredient, then yes, it does have scientific research showing that it can be better for you than other honeys.
Help! – How do I know if it contains the Manuka honey active ingredient?
Don’t worry, you’re not the first to ask that, so something has been done to help you. Scientists are still studying just what exactly makes up the unique non-peroxide antibacterial activity found in only some Manuka honey. They can measure the Manuka honey active ingredient (measure the antibacterial potency separate from the hydrogen peroxide aspect), but going back to the time after this was discovered, it became referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor.
There is now the internationally accepted and registered trademark UMF® which is a quality mark used to distinguish the ones that does contain sufficient levels of the Manuka honey active ingredient, the non-peroxide antibacterial activity. Producers must have a valid license to be able to use the UMF® mark on their products, and this is backed up by an auditing process for consumer protection.
So the UMF® mark on the jars of honey together with a valid license number from AMHA (Active Manuka Honey Association of New Zealand) is your best way to know.
As a note, for specialist external use medical products, there are some products using this antibacterial honey for medical use that have now received appropriate approvals from authorities and may carry an alternative certification. For example may have a medical devices license in Europe. There is now considerable research into the use of medical grade honey for wounds.
When it comes to jars though, look for the UMF® on the actual label. You can check that the stated license number is valid by checking with AMHA http://www.umf.org.nz In several countries (UK, USA, and others) there are some problems of companies ‘passing off’ fake product who do not have a valid license, so if you are wanting to take this for its health benefits then check you will be getting the genuine article whit high levels of the Manuka honey active ingredient.