Manuka honey is known for its vast health benefits. Manuka honey, which comes from the nectar collected by honey bees that forage the manuka bushes of New Zealand, contains unique antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, stomach-healing and wound-repairing properties.
Used medicinally both internally and externally, manuka honey is high in “unique manuka factor” (UMF), and is a therapeutic healing “superfood”. If you’ve looked at manuka honey in the stores, you have probably noticed the UMF trademark on many pots. UMF, unique manuka factor, is a quality trademark and grading system identifying natural unadulterated manuka honey that has a special unique natural property found only in some strains of manuka honey. Not all manuka honey had this special property and among those that do, the strength of the property varies. It is a grading system that enables consumers to be aware of the level of quality or authenticity of the manuka honey they buy.
Manuka varieties that era high in UMF are uniquely powerful at preventing and treating bacterial infections due to the presence of the glucose oxidase enzyme, which produces natural hydrogen peroxide, a proven antiseptic, and UMF.
Given its antibacterial properties, products containing manuka honey for skin health, oral health and digestive health have emerged in recent years given the rise in popularity of this honey bee product.
There are now a number of brands selling manuka honey, some of whom have been leading research into this “superfood” and its health benefits.
When it comes to buying Manuka Honey, there are a number of factors you may want to consider to make an informed choice. These include the brand and its ethics, the quality of the product and the purpose for its use (medicinal or as a food product). Life & Soul Magazine has put a few brands to the test and here’s what we found.
BEST FOR: HEALTH SUPPLEMENT
Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey is a popular brand stocked in health food stores across the UK. Given the price of manuka honey but also its extensive health benefits, many people use this honey not in the traditional way as a foodstuff, but more as a health supplement. And I found Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey a good place to start for use in this manner – so literally a spoonful a day to assist with optimum health and to stave off seasonal bugs such as colds and flu.
Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey is a smooth honey albeit thick in consistency, with a slight floral taste, unique to manuka. This is the one that I chose to use as a health supplement, taking a spoonful daily. As with any health supplement, you have to use it over a length of time in order to see the benefits. The effects on your health may be subtle but with prolonged use, you will see the changes. Set your intent for what you want the manuka honey to do. For instance, you may want to strengthen your gums, which given its antibacterial properties manuka honey has been proven to do. We brush our teeth daily but our gums often get neglected. I chose to rub Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey into my gums daily as a way to strengthen them, and over time I was able to see a difference. Commit to it, as just like learning your ABC as a kid, it’s not going to happen overnight, but over time you will see the changes to your health as a result, and the effects will be subtle but far reaching in the long run. And note that these changes are not necessarily visible – for example, if you use manuka honey for digestive health, you are not going to be able to “see” the changes – but intuitively you will know the difference it is making. Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey, RRP £26.99 for 250g
BEST FOR: ALL ROUND USE
Manuka Health Manuka Honey use a different trademark to acknowledge the quality and purity of its honey. Manuka Health use MGO™, and you will only see MGO labels on their own products. 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 tree, a New Zealand native has a short flowering period which makes the placement of hives and the timing of the harvest crucial. If done correctly, the Methylglyoxal present in the manuka honey will be much higher. Manuka Health state that the higher the MGO™ rating in Manuka honey, the higher the level of anti-bacterial activity in the honey.
As far as manuka honey goes, I found Manuka Health’s MGO™ 100+ Manuka Honey to be an all round honey that was perfect for use as both a food as well as a health supplement. I found myself using it for both purposes – a spoonful a day for optimum health, as well as a spread on toast. Its smooth, creamy like consistency made it just as easy to spread on toast as to use to rub into a wound. I found use of the MGO™ 100+ Manuka Honey quickly faded a scar that I had on my hand, and it also softened the skin.
MGO™ Manuka Honey is sustainably sourced from beehives in remote areas of New Zealand. No chemicals are used during the processing of the honey and only hot water is used to clean the plant. No harsh chemical cleaners are entering the environment inside or outside of the plant. Our beekeeping operation received the Massey University Discovery Award in the 2011 Balance Farm Environment Awards in recognition of new discovery and implementation of economically and environmentally sustainable farming systems. The Award recognises farmers and farming families who have been proactive in discovering new knowledge and applying that knowledge to move their farming business to a more sustainable state. Manuka Health’s MGO™ 100+ Manuka Honey, RRP £33.99 for 500g
BEST FOR: TASTE AND ETHICS
Steens is by far the best tasting manuka honey that has ever touched my palette. Steens Raw 15+ Manuka Honey has a slight gritty texture which has a raw, natural taste that is divine on toast. Like all other manuka honeys, Steens Raw 15+ Manuka Honey can primarily be used as a health supplement or for medicinal purposes, but I found Steens Raw 15+ Manuka Honey, the best manuka honey to use as a spread, to cook with, with banana and yogurt, or a spoonful as a sweet treat when blood sugars are low.
Set up in the 1980s when sustainable commercial manuka honey collection and extraction were a new phenomena, Steens stands out as an innovative brand which takes risks, follows their intuition and fearlessly pushes boundaries – delivering a quality product from mother nature but not at her expense. It was the first New Zealand beekeeping company to pay landowners, therefore encouraging many landowners to retain and enhance planet their manuka blocks providing additional income for what could be marginal farming country.
So if you’re looking for a manuka honey from a company that puts mother nature first, devises innovative ways to sustain beekeeping, promotes health and wellbeing and is a fantabulous product, Steens Raw 15+ Manuka Honey is the queen bee of manuka honeys. Steens Raw 15+ Manuka Honey, RRP £21.00 for 340g