Why is Manuka Honey so special and what are the benefits
Why is Manuka Honey so special and what are the benefits - Manuka honey is a monofloral honey that is mostly produced in New Zealand. This is different from all other types of honey because bee sources of pollen and nectar are almost entirely from the flowers of the Manuka Tree (Leptospermum Scoparium).
These trees are closely related to the Tea Tree; and occurs naturally throughout New Zealand and southeast Australia, but is very common at high densities in the drier east coast of New Zealand's North Island.
Like all other honey varieties, Manuka Honey shows anti-bacterial properties resulting from the presence of hydrogen peroxide and natural acid pH. Some honey groups have shown additional anti-microbial activity that is unique to the Manuka variety; this additional trait is called Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).
This UMF is Manuka Honey's claim for fame. High-quality honey that shows these special properties is considered a medical grade honey and has been shown in laboratory tests to kill even antibiotic-resistant microbes.
Regular Honey versus UMF
Not all Manuka Honey have special UMF properties. Samples of each batch of honey must undergo rigorous laboratory testing to determine whether the batch shows the above and above antiseptic properties associated with peroxide and acidic pH.
Only about 10% of all batches produced turned out to be active UMF. Batches produced in the area in one season may be active UMF and batches produced in the same area the following year may be inactive UMF. It is not clear why only a few batches in several seasons developed specific UMF activities.
All honey batches that showed UMF activity were called UMF Manuka Honey or Healing Honey, while batches that did not develop UMF activity were called ordinary honey. It is important to understand this difference when buying this particular honey for therapeutic use.
UMF Honey Association
In an effort to standardize laboratory testing and protect consumers from counterfeit products, the Manuka industry in New Zealand formed the UMF UMF Manuka Honey Association (UMFMHA). All honey producers must be licensed by this association.
UMFMHA stores samples from each batch of honey produced and tests in each batch through third parties to determine UMF activity in batches. In addition, the association also establishes relevant product labeling guidelines to ensure a simple and standard label format.
In general this format determines that all active manuka honey products must have UMF followed by a number (from 1 to 20) on the label. Numbers show UMF activity with 20 as the most active. So, honey labeled UMF 5 has less UMF activity than honey labeled UMF15.
As a guideline, any batch that is UMF10 or higher is considered a medicinal honey. The compliance standards and procedures established by UMFMHA are in addition to regular food safety procedures managed by the New Zealand government.
Health Benefits of Manuka Honey
Native New Zealanders have learned about the extraordinary health benefits of this special honey for centuries. It has an amazing ability to treat wounds when applied. The compounds that make up UMF activity from honey are able to penetrate deep into the skin to neutralize even sowing infections. Honey also tends to stimulate tissue regeneration; thus minimizing scarring.
This honey has also been used as a treatment for acne and is also very useful for treating dental infections. After tooth extraction, the application of honey has been shown to minimize the risk of developing dry sockets; which is a painful condition that is thought to be due to the dissolution of a premature blood clot after the tooth is removed.
There is also evidence that Manuka Honey can reduce stomach inflammation. You should always consult with a health professional before using Manuka Honey to treat any health condition.