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Do you know what Manuka honey is?  What is special about this type of honey, and how do you read the label to determine the best kind to buy?

Recently, I received this question about what the best Manuka honey is:

Hi Beverly, How are you? I have been tasting several manuka honey products, such as Wedderspoon, Australia’s nature, and Comvita. Since you have so much passion in honey you will be able to share your knowledge with me. Is raw organic manuka honey very different than just organic manuka honey? What particular brand do you recommend for manuka honey. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

Regards, Maria


What Is Manuka Honey?

This honey is produced when bees feed on a manuka plant sourced from New Zealand.  It is a relative of the tea tree.  What is so amazing about this type of honey is its strong antimicrobial activity.  All honey has healing properties, but this type of honey is more powerful medicinally.  And unlike prescription antibiotics, it doesn’t cause the growth and spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.  This is very significant because this makes it very effective internally and externally.  It has been used very successfully in hospitals for treating burns, wounds, and other skin conditions.

Digestive conditions, ulcers, and acid reflux respond to Manuka honey, not only because of its anti-inflammatory properties but also because of its probiotic characteristics.   Other conditions that respond nicely are acne, sore throats, cold and flu, gastritis, and many, many other conditions and ills.

How To Buy Manuka Honey With Confidence

Okay, have I enticed you to want to try this special honey?  If so, you might be wondering what kind of Manuka honey to buy.  How can you tell if you have a good quality, medicinal honey?

The strength of the honey depends on how much of the floral nectar the bees used to make the honey.  In order to determine a honey’s potency level, it must, therefore, be tested.  There is an association – the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association – that independently tests and certifies Manuka honey, and they have created an official “UMF” trademark to verify the legitimacy of products claiming to be manuka honey.

Active vs. Inactive Manuka Honey

There are other rating systems out there, too, and this can be very confusing for a buyer. You have UMF, NPA, AMF, etc. Instead of letting this confuse you, just concentrate on whether or not your Manuka honey is active or inactive. Only active Manuka honey should be used for therapeutic purposes. If your Manuka honey is inactive, you won’t get the same results, unfortunately.

Let’s pretend we are going shopping to buy Manuka honey.  What should you look for?  If you look at the jar of Manuka honey, you will usually see a number followed by a plus (+)sign. This number measures the honey’s potency. If the number is 10 or higher, it is considered to be active and suitable for medical use.

Any number less than this is considered inactive. And it is not necessarily true that the higher the number, the better it works. Really high numbers, something like 18+, can be misleading because it may indicate that the honey has been heat treated. This increases the active factor but destroys the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of the honey.  Of course, if you want Manuka honey just to eat, it doesn’t matter if it is not active.

If you buy honey in the medium range, this is great for most uses, and it is potent enough to heal. So, when you buy a  jar of Manuka honey, don’t be too worried about the three letter acronym or trademark on the label.  Instead, make sure your honey is active.

Also, don’t be afraid to contact the company who packaged the honey and ask questions. Find out if the honey was tested. If the honey is not tested, then there is no way of knowing what the potency level is.


Is Certified Organic Honey Worth The Price?

Organic vs Raw

Now let’s answer Maria’s questions about the difference between raw and organic Manuka honey. Raw honey is honey that is unheated, unpasteurized, and unprocessed.  This means that all the beneficial qualities are intact. On the other hand, for honey to be certified organic, it has to be tested to guarantee that it doesn’t contain any pesticides or other pollutants.  But it is worth mentioning at this point that some beekeepers feel there is really no such thing as truly “organic” honey.  They claim that it is impossible to control the foraging radius of a bee colony.

So, my best advice is to stick with reputable brands.  I really love and respect the Wedderspoon and Comvita brands of Manuka honey, although there are many others to choose from.

What kind of Manuka honey do you like?  We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks to Maria for your excellent questions 🙂



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