What is Manuka Honey

What is Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a single-flower honey that is produced by bees that use at least 70% of the nectar and pollen from the Manuka plant (Leptospermum Scoparium). It is native to New Zealand and the south-eastern regions of Australia and is known for its unique antimicrobial and medicinal properties. In recent years, Manuka honey has gained notoriety for its ability to treat a wide range of ailments, including acne, digestive issues, sore throats, and burns.

 

The Origins

The Manuka plant is a bush that grows to be about 2-5 meters high and is distinguished by its thorny leaves. It has always been an important part of Maori tradition, with every part of the plant being utilised. The wood is often used for utensils, and the shavings are used for smoking meat and fish due to their aromatic properties. The essential oils and white gum extracted from the Manuka plant are used in traditional Maori medicine and the contemporary pharmaceutical industry for their febrifuge, decongestant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The flowers of the Manuka plant are white or pinkish and are rich in pollen and nectar, which are used by bees to produce honey.

The Taste of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey has a caramelised, aromatic flavour that is particularly viscous and intensely coloured, tending to brown. Its flavour is strong and differs from traditional European honeys like acacia and chestnut due to its hints of damp earth and mineral, herbaceous taste. The sweet taste is followed by a strong, slightly bitter but at the same time irresistible aftertaste.


A bee pollinating the Manuka Flower

 

 

MGO and UMF Ratings

You may have come across the acronyms MGO and UMF when shopping for Manuka honey. MGO stands for methylglyoxal, a naturally occurring compound that gives Manuka honey its distinctive flavour and health properties. The percentage of MGO in Manuka honey determines its quality and strength. The MGO rating is a quality metric that standardises the amount of methylglyoxal in Manuka honey. Honeys with low MGO are ideal for daily wellness maintenance, while honeys with high MGO can be used for skin care and oral hygiene with excellent results.

UMF, on the other hand, stands for Unique Manuka Factor, a grading system that measures the overall potency and antibacterial activity of Manuka honey. It is based on the presence of three key markers: methylglyoxal (MGO), dihydroxyacetone, and leptosperin. The UMF rating is a measure of the concentration of these markers in the honey, with higher ratings indicating higher potency and antibacterial activity. The UMF rating system ranges from 0 to 20+.

 

Conclusions

In conclusion, Manuka honey is a unique type of honey produced by bees that use nectar and pollen from the Manuka plant. It has gained popularity in recent years for its antimicrobial and medicinal properties and is used to treat a wide range of ailments. MGO and UMF are two grading systems used to measure the quality and potency of Manuka honey, with MGO measuring the concentration of methylglyoxal and UMF measuring the overall potency and antibacterial activity based on the presence of several different markers.

 

What is Manuka honey? It is a powerful and versatile natural remedy with many potential health benefits.

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