An aid to good health

Manuka Honey -  An aid to good health
ABC Honey produces Australian Manuka Honey under our ABC Bio Honey label and as Manuka.

Australian Manuka Honey is a special gift from our native forests with over 18 varieties of flowers which yield some active NPA content. Mostly found in remote pristine areas, it is known for its special flavour and texture plus its worldwide reputation for its potent microbial properties not found in ordinary honey. In early summer, the bees visit the many varieties of Jelly Bush but particularly Leptospermum Scoparium (Tea Tree) flowers.

So what is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey was first identified in New Zealand where bees fed on the flowers of the Manuka bush, also known as the Tea Tree. There are only a few varieties of active species in New Zealand.  In Australia, trees used to make Manuka honey were called the jelly bush. The honey is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer than other honey. It is generally thicker than normal honey and prior to the discovery of its Microbial properties was shunned by beekeepers because its density made harvesting with normal equipment very difficult. In recent tests conducted at Sydney University's School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, Manuka honey killed every type of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant "superbugs".

The curative properties of honey have been known to mankind for thousands of years, and dressing wounds with honey was common before the advent of antibiotics.

The finest-quality Manuka honey, with the most potent antimicrobial properties, is produced from hives in Australia which are usually in more unsettled areas. It is specially packed as raw honey to preserve many benefits lost in highly processed table honey. However, Manuka honey's antibacterial component activity is stable and doesn't lose its potency when exposed to modest heat or light. Manuka honey has been found to be effective against a range of bacteria and is anti-microbial and anti-viral. It is also an antioxidant that can help to increase vitality and immunity.

Be warned however that honey, in general, is not suitable for babies under 12 months of age because it is a known source of the bacteria spores that cause botulism. Children develop a natural immunity to this by about age 1 which gives us all lifetime immunity.

Diabetics too should avoid or limit their intake of honey due to the high glucose content.

Not all Manuka honey's activity levels are equal, so it is important to know how it is graded. Active Manuka honey has stronger properties than regular honey. It is important to know that the level of activity can vary greatly in Manuka honey either from the flower type or from blending by unscrupulous vendors. It is essential that you buy only genuine Manuka honey from a reputable source that has been tested and certified with an MGO/NPA guarantee to indicate the level of methylglyoxal and activity. Our ABC Manuka is tested by the University of Sunshine Coast and our tamper safe bottles carry details of that test and its MGO and NPA levels. These levels range from MGO 30 to 900 with NPA from less than NPA 5+ to NPA 25+. For example, MGO 30 will be NPA 1-3+ and MGO 635 will be NPA 17+. Beware of labels claiming 30+ MGO and hoping the + will be confused with NPA 30+ which would be off the scale in activity and have an MGO level of about 1000.

Components of Manuka Honey
Hydrogen peroxide is a component of honey. It gives most honey its antibiotic quality. But some types of honey, including Manuka honey, also have other components with antibacterial qualities.

Another antibacterial component in Manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities. In Manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound - dihydroxyacetone - that is found in differing concentrations in the nectar of Manuka flowers. MG is thought to give Manuka honey some of its antibacterial power. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect. But, there may also be other compounds involved in the medicinal effect of Manuka honey.

Manuka honey has special nutritional properties. Regular raw honey is well known for nutritional and immune-boosting abilities. Generally speaking, the typical raw unfiltered honey is a rich source of:

  • Amino acids
  • B vitamins (B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
  • Calcium
  • Copper & Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

However, in Manuka honey, the nutritional content is magnified to include its unique qualities. This is called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) in New Zealand which has been identified and the process Trade Marked. In Australia we use the more common but identical identifier of NPA for our test.

How to Verify Genuine NPA Manuka (Jelly Bush) Australian Honey
The minimum NPA rating recognised is NPA 5+, however, it is not very beneficial unless it carries an NPA 10+ or greater level of antibacterial activity in the honey. Anything ranging from NPA10+ to NPA15+ is a useful level, and anything NPA16+ and up is considered a superior quality.

MGO Manuka (Jelly Bush) Honey Rating
The discovery of the active ingredient "Methylglyoxal" in Manuka Honey was made by Professor Thomas Henle from the Institute of Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. Methylglyoxal is a compound found in the pollen of the Manuka tree's flowers. This New Zealand single native and the numerous Australian natives have short flowering periods which makes the timing and placing of hives important. If this is done correctly, the Methylglyoxal tested in the honey will be much higher. It is generally accepted that Australian Manuka is stronger than the original New Zealand Manuka - perhaps due to climatic conditions and range of plant types.