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Taste & Learn: Manuka Honey

FEATURE: LONG READ
Words By Emilie Dock

Butter-smooth with near-mythical healing properties, manuka honey has long been touted as a superfood. Used by the Maori people in New Zealand for centuries, it’s now beloved by health and beauty communities around the world. Kourtney Kardashian swears by it, Scarlett Johansson credits it for her “amazing glow” and Gwyneth Paltrow pours it in her smoothies. But is it worth the buzz? We speak to Jim McMillan, founder of The True Honey Co, to find out what makes manuka honey so special.

What is Manuka Honey?

“Manuka honey comes from the flowers of the native New Zealand manuka bush. Harvesting takes place in a short window and requires just the right amount of sunshine, warmth, breeze and rainfall: strong winds will blow the flowers from the plants, rain keeps the bees from venturing outside their hives, and the bees will only forage if it’s warm enough.”

manuka

“Given New Zealand’s capricious climate, the perfect harvest is a rare event indeed.”

manuka

MGO Stands For…


"… methylglyoxal. It’s the special compound found in manuka honey that sets it apart from other honeys and is responsible for its unique health benefits. The MGO rating measures the milligrams per kilogram of MGO present in any batch of Manuka honey."

UMF Stands For…


"…Unique Manuka Factor. It’s the quality assurance mark which certifies the purity and quality, and tells us that the honey contains the unique manuka natural properties."

Top 3 Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

It’s the active compounds in manuka that sets it apart from other honey – and gives it antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties known to help preserve and support your wellbeing.  

  • Supports Wound Healing

    Clinical evidence1 has shown that with anti-inflammatory, microbial and antioxidant properties, manuka is effective for treating wounds. This makes it an incredibly popular ingredient in beauty products, especially for those who suffer from acne, eczema and psoriasis.

  • Promotes Gut Health

    Manuka honey contains a certain type of sugar called oligosaccharides, which research2 indicates has a prebiotic effect and is known to promote the proliferation of good bacteria.

  • Soothes Sore Throats

    Honey of all types is an age-old remedy for sore throats. As well as coating the inner lining and helping irritation, though, manuka honey is known3 to have antiviral and antibacterial properties, which are understood to help reduce inflammation and fight the bacteria behind the symptoms.

The Authenticity Checklist

New Zealand produces about 1,700 tonnes of real manuka honey each year, but over 10,000 tons of “manuka honey” is sold on the global market. We’ll let you do the maths… To make sure you’re getting the real deal: make sure it has a rating (MGO and/or UMF); check that it’s been independently rated and packed in New Zealand (it’s the only country in the world that has developed a very strict definition of manuka and all exports are required to meet or exceed this criteria); expect to pay a decent price; and make sure the packaging hasn’t been tampered with.

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1Minden-Birkenmaier, B.A.; Bowlin, G.L. Honey-Based Templates in Wound Healing and Tissue Engineering. Bioengineering 2018, 5, 46

2Anand Mohan, Siew-Young Quek, Noemi Gutierrez-Maddox, Yihuai Gao, Quan Shu, Effect of honey in improving the gut microbial balance, Food Quality and Safety, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 May 2017, Pages 107–115

Shahzad A, Cohrs RJ. In vitro antiviral activity of honey against varicella zoster virus (VZV): A translational medicine study for potential remedy for shingles. Transl Biomed. 2012;3(2):2. doi:10.3823/434

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