Herbal Remedies

The Best Manuka Honey. An expert opinion.

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

Perhaps you like some honey in your tea, or drizzled over yogurt for a dash of sweetness, but do you know that it may also improve your health?

Manuka honey, produced from the nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree, holds antibacterial properties and as far back as 1392, and is used to help heal wounds and assist in improving overall health.

Manuka honey is not like regular honey, therefore, when you look at a product that claims to contain Manuka honey, it’s important to check for such compounds that come from the Manuka plant such as:

  • Methylglyoxal (MGO): This compound is an antibacterial compound found in Manuka honey and is used in wound healing, soothing sore throats, and in preventing tooth decay.
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This compound found in the nectar of Manuka tree flowers converts into MGO during the production of honey.
  • Leptosperin: This compound is a naturally occurring chemical found in Manuka tree plants and is important because it is only found in Manuka honey and a few close relatives, so it’s presence indicates a Manuka honey product’s authenticity.

You can ensure such compounds are in the Manuka honey product you purchase if it is an authentic Manuka honey with UMF certification.

The UMF, or the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, puts a stamp on products it approves. Before there was a UMF certification, a doctor in New Zealand discovered that the non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or NPA, which happens when the hydrogen peroxide activity is destroyed in honey by heat or light, remains intact in Manuka honey making it effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus and the MRSA super bug. The UMF mark shows that a product has been produced by one of the 100+ beekeepers, producers, and exporters it licenses to indicating the strength of the NPA activity.

UMF also uses grading systems to reveal the quantity of Manuka honey compounds in a product. These grading systems include the label claim that it is authentic Manuka honey. The second grade is a number that shows how much of DHA, MGO, and leptosperin a product contains. A higher score indicates better quality. Try to choose a product with at least a score of 10, but a UMF rating of 15 or more would be even more high quality.

Also, the K Factor 16™ can tell you if a product contains a high amount of bee pollen and if it’s from the Manuka plant. It indicates a pollen count of 70% or higher, purity, live enzymes, and a product containing the compound DHA.

Finally, the symbol MGO will tell you if a product contains a potent level of the compound methylglyoxal which indicates if a product has a good level of antibacterial activity. An MGO level of 400 to 550+ indicates a very high antibacterial activity.

Best Overall Manuka Honey Product

Manuka Health Manuka Honey

This Manuka honey product comes in many different levels of potency and may help support healing through its potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Summary of Manuka Health Manuka Honey:
  • 100% pure New Zealand Manuka honey
  • MGO 400+
  • Independent quality testing in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory
  • Traceable from beehive to shelf
  • Raw and unpasteurized
  • Only 45 calories per tablespoon

Best UMF 15+ Manuka honey product

Kiva Raw Manuka Honey

This potent Manuka honey product has a high UMF and MGO level, making it full of antioxidant and antibacterial compounds. In turn, this product can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.

Summary of Kiva Raw Manuka Honey:
  • UMF 15+ certified
  • MGO 514+
  • Harvested from New Zealand
  • Independently tested, verified, and traceable
  • Raw and unpasteurized

Best Monofloral Manuka Honey

Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey

The distinction, monofloral, is important because it indicates honey that comes from the nectar of one flower whereas multi flora could specify that it either comes from the nectar of multiple types of flowers or is blended with other honey products. Multi flora therefore may indicate it is less potent in the health-benefiting Manuka compounds.

Wedderspoon’s product is authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand and is raw and unpasteurized, which preserves its antioxidant properties. The authenticity of this honey gives it an earthy, caramelized flavor that is delicious on its own or in your favorite beverage.

Summary of Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey:
  • Made in New Zealand
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • K Factor 16™, which means it’s mostly or wholly from the Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) plant
  • Raw and unpasteurized monofloral Manuka honey
  • Traceable from hive to home
  • 70 calories per tablespoon
  • Free of antibiotics, glyphosate, and pesticides
  • SQF level 3 facility to certify safety standards

What You Need to Know

Types

The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand, so you should look for Manuka honey from New Zealand to help ensure an authentic product. Also, it’s important to choose a Manuka honey product that is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the anti-inflammatory properties and other nutrients found in the bee pollen.

Benefits 

Manuka honey is well-known for its ability to help improve wound healing due to its antibacterial properties. Additionally, this honey can also boost the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2017 study shows that Manuka honey can stop the growth of bacteria and enhance wound healing and tissue repair by boosting immune health. Manuka honey can also help those with sore throats as it can not only coat the throat and soothe it, but can also fight off inflammation and bacteria leading to a sore throat.

Cons

There are no dosing restrictions on honey bee products in general, however, any type of honey should not be used by infants or those allergic or sensitive to bee pollen. Pediatricians recommend children under 12 months of age should not be given honey because it may contain spores of bacteria that could cause botulism which can lead to paralysis. Studies show though that for most people, Manuka honey of UMF 20+ is generally safe to consume.

Anything else a shopper should know

Just like with any dietary supplement product, you should make sure that the product has undergone independent lab tests for purity and potency. If a product is independently tested, or third-party tested, you can ensure that what is on the label is what is in the product you’re purchasing. An SQF certification can also indicate safety testing has been done on the product.

Our Remedy Review:

Why would you take Manuka honey?

You would use Manuka honey if you feel you are getting sick often or having trouble with wounds healing properly. You should never replace any prescribed medicines with Manuka honey, but can use it as a supplement to your current treatments for your health issues. Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement regimen.

Is it worth your money?

If Manuka honey helps reduce your sick days from work or improves your quality of life, then it’s worth the money. Also, if Manuka honey helps you have a stronger immune system or better healing wounds, then the money you spend on it will be well worth feeling better inside and out.

Who is best for?

Manuka honey is best for anyone who wants an extra boost in their immune health. There are many quality Manuka honey brands out there, but if you use the tips above, you can choose a high-quality product that can help you reap Manuka health benefits. 

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