Manuka Honey Guide

The Essential Guide to Manuka Honey from Manuka Honey Direct


What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey is a honey from New Zealand that contains active enzymes that help your body function as it should. The Honey Bees collect nectar from the delicate flowers of the Manuka Bush (Leptospermum scoparium) which is native to New Zealand. The Manuka Bush has several close relatives one of which also grows on New Zealand called the Kanuka Bush, whilst the other relatives; Jellybush and the Australian Tea Tree, are grown abundantly in Australia. Native Tribes to Australia and New Zealand, particularly the Maori's from New Zealand use Manuka Honey and its close relatives in their traditional medicine to treat all kinds of illnesses and even more serious conditions.


How is Manuka Honey made?

The Manuka Bush Plantations are generally found in remote areas of both New Zealand's North and South Island. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed to the UK and so Manuka Honey is harvested between December and March depending on the weather and the abundance of the crop. The honey is collected from the bee hives once the nectar has been collected and the honey has been made. At this point, the Manuka Honey will be tested in independent laboratories to determine its activity levels. Most of the Manuka Honey out of the hive has a total activity level between 10+ and 18+, and so the lower Manuka Honey strengths are generally in good abundance. To produce Manuka Honey for the higher activity factors i.e. 20+ and 25+ the honey is generally left for 1 year and sometimes up to 2 years in secure warehouses, to allow the enzymes to grow and make the Manuka Honey more active. After this time, the honey is re-tested and potted according to its strength.


Manuka Honey strengths

The most important thing with Manuka Honey is to make sure that you're taking the strength that is best for you. If you are just looking to help give you an energy boost or helping your everyday health, then generally speaking, an Active Manuka Honey (between Active 10+ to Active 16+), or a low grade UMF™ (UMF™10+), or low grade KFactor™ Manuka Honey (like KFactor 12) is suitable for your needs, depending of course on how healthy you feel and if you have any underlying conditions.

If you feel your body needs extra support and help, or you have a more severe condition, then we recommend, as do our other customers in the same situation, the stronger Manuka Honey's either an Active Manuka Honey (Active 20+ to Active 30+), UMF™ Manuka Honey (UMF16+), or KFactor™ Manuka Honey (KFactor 16 or KFactor 22).


If you need extra support, always make sure you buy either a UMF™ registered Manuka Honey which is high in non-peroxide activity, or KFactor™ Manuka Honey which is high in Manuka Pollen, to ensure you're getting the best quality Manuka Honey. Generally available in the UK market place are UMF ratings: UMF10+, UMF16+, UMF20+, UMF24+; KFactor™ Manuka Honey is available in KFactor™ 12, KFactor ™16, KFactor™ 22.


An Active Manuka Honey measures both the peroxide and non-peroxide activity level of the Honey but it only shows the combined Total Activity of the honey on the pot.  UMF™ Manuka Honey measures both the peroxide and non-peroxide activity levels but it only shows the non-peroxide activity rating on the outside of a pot, which makes it a more superior honey in comparison to an Active Manuka Honey. A KFactor™ Manuka Honey measures the Manuka pollen count of the Manuka Honey in comparison to Active and UMF™ Manuka Honey. The presence of Manuka pollen guarantees that the Manuka Honey is genuine.


How to take Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey can be taken in a variety of ways so it depends what works for you best. If you can, taking Manuka Honey Off the spoon is definitely the easiest and best way to take Manuka Honey as it will not dilute until the Manuka Honey enters your stomach. Bear in mind though, that Manuka Honey is not as sweet as UK or European breakfast Honey and that it is more thick set honey rather than runny honey so taking it by the spoon may not suit you. The next way to take Manuka Honey is to make it part of a Drink. NEVER put Manuka Honey into boiling or very hot water as once the water has reached 40deg centigrade, it will have killed most of the active enzymes, the reason you brought the Manuka Honey in the first place!


For 1 teaspoonful, you can add to a third of a glass of cold water or a third of a mug of warm water to dilute and drink either as a cold or warm drink. Manuka Honey can also be used as a sweetener in Tea and Coffee although again you should not add it to boiling water. And finally, particularly suitable for young children, Manuka Honey can be added to Toast, Breakfast Cereal or into Yoghurt as it’s a great way to take Manuka Honey without realizing it, so it’s quick and simple to add into your daily routine!


What does Manuka Honey taste like?

Most of the Manuka Honey sold in the UK is a thick-set Honey and is not as sweet as normal UK Breakfast Honey. Although Manuka Honey is the same product, there are slight taste differences in the tastes of the Manuka Honey brands, depending on where the Manuka Honey has been farmed. We've tried all our Manuka Honeys and can tell you that generally speaking Manuka Honey produced on the South Island of New Zealand is sweeter and mainly more creamy. Whereas those Manuka Honeys produced in the North Island of New Zealand is generally richer and fuller in flavour compared to its South Island counterpart. The reason for these slight differences are based on the soil type and other environmental factors like how much and how long the Manuka Bush has flowered for in a season and how much rain has fallen. If you are not sure which Manuka Honey to try first, call our office on 01483 205431 and we'll be happy to give you some guidance.


What can you use Manuka Honey for?

Manuka Honey can be used to help you. Due to its high anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties Manuka Honey is extremely effective against internal infection and inflammation particularly for Stomach and Bowel Conditions including allergies or intolerances (NOT suitable for any allergy that produces an anaphylactic reaction), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's Disease, Stomach Ulcers as well as Food poisoning and upset stomachs. Manuka Honey is also superb at helping people with low Immune Systems. This can be as a result of a comprised Immune System like an auto-immune disease (MS, ME or general tiredness) or those who are fighting life-threatening conditions.***


We also have a range of Medical Grade Manuka Honey products (Actilite, Actibalm, Activon) that can provide Manuka Honey dressings for application to external wounds and sores which according to our many customers, have been superb at helping to clear persistent wounds and sores. The anti-inflammatory properties of Manuka Honey really help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and is great for damaged Joints for those with Arthritis particularly Osteo-arthritis.


*** These suggested uses are based on our customers personal experiences and is not designed to be used to diagnose, treat, or give any medical advice. We strongly recommend you speak with your Medical Professional for diagnosis of any condition you may be concerned about.



Can Diabetics use Manuka Honey?

As Manuka Honey is a 100% Natural Honey its contents are primarily sugar based, and so it is very similar in regards to that of citrus fruits. We have some customers that use Manuka Honey, some that do not.


Diabetes is a personal condition and we ALWAYS recommend you speak with your medical professionals before taking Manuka Honey. It is important to identify and check with your medical professional, whether it is suitable for your needs and with your Diabetes regime.


We generally find, based on customer experiences that those individuals with Diabetes Type 1, which are normally controlled by Insulin, should NOT take Manuka Honey due to its high natural sugar content. However, if you are taking Manuka Honey for health reasons, it may be worth speaking with your Diabetes nurse or your GP as some of our customers have Diabetes and they are able to use it. Diabetes is a personal condition and we ALWAYS recommend you speak with your medical professionals before taking Manuka Honey.


We generally find, based on customer experiences that those individuals with Diabetes Type 2, which is normally controlled through exercise and diet, CAN take Manuka Honey. Although it should be noted that if you experience any changes to your condition or you feel unwell, you should seek medical help immediately. Diabetes is a personal condition and we ALWAYS recommend you speak with your medical professionals before taking Manuka Honey.


Manuka Honey activity ratings


There are now four main Manuka Honey ratings being sold within the UK – UMF™ Manuka Honey (also known as NPA), Active Manuka Honey (also known as TA), KFactor™ Manuka Honey and Methylglyoxal Manuka Honey (also known as MGO). A further detailed page regarding Manuka Honey Activity ratings can be found here: Manuka Honey Activity Testing.


UMF™ Manuka Honey ratings (equivalent to NPA Manuka Honey) UMF™ Manuka Honey and NPA Manuka Honey has been tested to the UMF levels by independent laboratories in New Zealand using the test developed by Dr Peter Nolan for the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, a trade organisation for all Manuka Honey producers in New Zealand (UMFHA). Developed by Dr Peter Molan in conjunction with the Waikato University, the test identifies the Unique Manuka Factor - that shows the Non-peroxide activity levels. TheNon-Peroxide Activity levels (UMF/NPA) determines how effective the honey is at killing or inhibiting bacteria growth. It is important to understand that the UMF letters are a registered trade mark of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, a trade organization made up of all the key Manuka Honey producers in New Zealand. The UMF test is not regulated by the New Zealand government and a charge is made by UMFHA to use the UMF logo. NPA Manuka Honey results from manufacturers using the same testing method as the UMF Manuka Honey scale, but they do not want to use the UMF Trademark to sell their Manuka Honey.


Active Manuka Honey ratings (also known as TA Manuka Honey) All Honey can be considered "Active Honey" because of the enzymes the Honey bee adds to the honey, however, in New Zealand, the Active Honey also gets tested by the same laboratories that undertake the UMF Manuka Honey to determine the non-peroxide activity levels. As the UMF letters are a trade mark of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association UMFHA, only manufacturers who pay the licensing fee are able to use the UMF trademark on their pot of Manuka Honey. This normally results in Active Manuka Honey being approximately £2 - £3 cheaper per pot. Dr Peter Molan cut his association with the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association on its UMF based Manuka Honey test.


KFactor™ Manuka Honey ratings (also known as Manuka Pollen count Manuka Honey) KFactor is a multi-stage authentication system used to measure a variety of unique KEY factors inherent in Manuka Honey at the molecular level. The measurements are performed in a laboratory to ensure the high quality and purity of each batch. The relatively new KFactor system is based on using a specific lighting technique, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which measures the Manuka pollen grain count. It is a reliable way to identify the type and concentration of the Honey based on the plant (Manuka) it originates from. Concentrations of Manuka pollen range between 65% - 95% across the Wedderspoon range.


Methylglyoxal Manuka Honey ratings (also known as MGO™ Manuka Honey) This honey rating tests the Methylglyoxal or MGO™ elements of the honey, although this testing method is not widely used in the UK.