What is manuka honey?
Manuka honey is made by bees that gather pollen from the flowers of the mānuka bush in New Zealand and Australia.
The properties of manuka honey
As well as its use as a natural sweetener, honey has long been used in traditional medicine and in folk remedies around the world. Honey is ...Read more mentioned for its medicinal uses in ancient Greek texts and inscriptions, was a popular remedy in ancient Egypt, and is mentioned in the Bible too.
Honey is often used for its apparent antimicrobial properties. Manuka honey in particular is said to have stronger antibacterial and antiseptic activity, containing more active components compared to other honeys. Manuka honey (and other types of honey) has been investigated for its benefits for wound healing, burns, gastroenteritis (an infection of the gut), gum health, and for activity against specific bacteria such as Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.
What is UMF®?
UMF means ‘Unique Manuka Factor’. This term is used to indicate the potential antibacterial activity of manuka honey, with a higher UMF indicating a stronger potency. However, the actual constituent of manuka honey that is responsible for this activity has not been identified – the honey is not thought to contain the same components as the essential oil of the mānuka bush that the bees feed on.
Manuka honeys that are measured in UMF® tend to range from a low potency of UMF 5+, up to the highest potency of 25+.
What is MGO™?
MGO is a different measurement of the antibacterial activity of manuka honey. It stands for methylglyoxal, which is just one of the substances found in manuka honey that are thought to have antibacterial activity. Manuka honeys that are measured in MGO can start at 30+ and go up to 400+ or even over 500+.
Make sure you know which measurement you’re reading when you consider the potency of the manuka honey you’re buying: MGO 100+ doesn’t mean that the honey is 10 times stronger than a UMF 10+, for example.
How do I choose a manuka honey?
The most important factor when choosing a manuka honey for its therapeutic properties is to make sure it carries either the UMF® or MGO™ trademarks. If it just says ‘Active’ and then the number, this means that the potency of the manuka honey probably hasn’t been verified.
In terms of what strength to go for, a manuka honey of UMF 5+ may be fine for day-to-day use, but 10+ and above are considered a better choice if you’re looking for potential therapeutic benefits of manuka honey. For products with an MGO rating, 100+ is considered the minimum potency for health benefits, with 250+ or above providing more effective support.