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A Consumer’s Guide to Buying Manuka Honey

09-02-2011 09:24 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Honeymark International

There is no question that Manuka honey has more healing properties than any other type of honey in the world. However, there has been much confusion over which type of Manuka honey is the best to use for medicinal use.

It has taken a long time for U.S. consumers to recognize that not all honey is the same. Thanks to the internet and other forms of media, the extraordinary healing powers of Manuka honey have become known to the general public and how useful this special type of honey can be in treating many different health conditions, both internally and topically on the skin. However, now consumers are being confused about which type of Manuka honey is best to use.

There is actually only one type of Manuka honey, which is honey that is produced by bees that utilize the nectar of the flowers that grow on the Manuka plant. Depending on how much of the floral nectar component is used by the bees to make the honey, it could be more potent or less potent. Obviously, bees do not have measuring equipment so this amount could vary. The only way to determine a honey’s potency level is by performing a laboratory test to measure the amount of certain phytochemical compounds. Because of its world renowned healing abilities, Manuka honey is the only honey in the world that is tested for its antibacterial and phytochemical potencies.

There was a time that the standard for measuring the potency level of Manuka honey was the UMF rating system. However, certain factors were raised about this system that questioned its accuracy. Other rating systems followed, accompanied by registered trademarks and more three letter acronyms which did nothing but confuse consumers as to which one is the best and most accurate. Of course, from a marketing perspective, the creators of each system published press releases and articles bashing one another and claiming their rating system was the most accurate for measuring the phytochemical potency of Manuka honey, further adding to the confusion. Despite this propaganda and the alphabet soup of acronyms, the global demand for Manuka honey has risen to an all-time high.

It’s important to know that most honeys have healing properties to some extent. In the past, honey’s antibacterial ability was attributed to its ability to produce low levels of hydrogen peroxide in a slow-release manner. What makes Manuka honey different from other types of honey is its non-peroxide activity, which exists in addition to its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide. In fact, some researchers believe that these two components may have a synergistic action in the healing process. Instead of ruminating over which rating system is more accurate or which trademark is best to see on the label of a jar of Manuka honey, consumers should be more concerned about the level of its non-peroxide activity (NPA). If the honey has been tested, the laboratory should be able to determine if the honey is active or inactive. Only active Manuka honey should be used for therapeutic purposes. Inactive honey should only be used as a sweetener or for food purposes. Inactive Manuka honey will not yield the same medicinal results that people have come to expect of Manuka honey.

Once you get past the acronym (UMF, MGO, NPA, AMF, MGS, etc.) then there’s the number to understand. For example, a jar of Manuka honey will have a number on the label that measures its potency. It’s generally accepted that Manuka honey with a potency level of 10 or higher is considered to be active and suitable for medical use. Manuka honey with a potency level of 0 through 9 is inactive. These numbers are used in comparison to a solution with the equivalent antibacterial level of phenol. For example, Manuka honey with a potency level of 10 is equivalent to a solution that is about 10% phenol.

The higher the number, the higher the antibacterial and phytochemical potency. It is easy to assume that if the potency level is higher, the Manuka honey will work better of faster. This is not necessarily true. Most researchers have found that a medium range is appropriate for most applications. Just as long as the potency level is at least 10, the honey is potent enough to heal. Sometimes these numbers are followed by a plus sign (+). This means that the honey could possibly be slightly more potent than the number displayed on the label, but not less. The reason for this is that Manuka honey’s potency can increase over time. Therefore, if Manuka honey is stored in a warehouse for several months before it is sold, the potency level may be higher than the last time it was analyzed in the lab.

In summation, when purchasing a jar of Manuka honey, it’s more important to make sure it is active or bioactive, rather than being fixated on the three letter acronym or trademark that may be on the label. If you have any questions about the authenticity of the potency level displayed on the label, you can always call the company who packaged the honey to ensure that it was laboratory tested. If the honey is not tested, then there is no way of knowing what the potency level is.

For more information, call 1-866-427-7329 or visit

Honeymark is an importer of Manuka honey and a manufacturer of Manuka honey products. For more information, call 1-866-427-7329 or visit

Honeymark International
P.O. Box 153381
Boston, MA 02215

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