Manuka Honey Benefits are explained by Comvita whose products are shown near beekeeping supplies, bees, and manuka flowers


This Manuka Honey Benefits article was provided by our friends at Comvita.


The Manuka tree has been used for wellness remedies for many centuries, yet many people still don’t know what Manuka Honey is, or what makes it so different from other types of honey. And, what are the benefits of Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey comes from New Zealand’s indigenous Manuka flower, extensively researched and globally revered for its medicinal qualities. Only the nectar of the Manuka flower (Leptospermum scoparium) contains a unique set of highly antibacterial compounds. Manuka Honey is made by bees that pollinate the Manuka flower which is native to New Zealand and only blooms 2-6 weeks per year, making this unique honey a scarce resource.

Aside from its topical use for wound care, the most common uses and benefits of Manuka Honey are for cough and cold relief, digestive (gut), DIY skincare, and overall immune health for daily wellness.

What region does Manuka come from?

Manuka Honey can only be produced in areas abundant with native Manuka blossoms, which is why our hives are located in some of the most remote, untouched parts of New Zealand. From the rugged central North Island volcanic plateau, to the bush clad hills of Northland, beehives are spread across six different regions of the country – some only accessible by helicopter.

What is the difference between Manuka Honey and my local honey?

In short, “it contains compounds that other honeys don’t,” according to Dr. Adrian Charlton, Biochemist and Head of Food Quality and Safety at Fera Science labs. Aside from Manuka coming from New Zealand, the nectar of the Manuka flower gives Manuka Honey its unique properties that aren’t present in local honey. It is also a naturally darker honey compared to say, a sweet clover honey. The natural dark compounds are not dissimilar to the dark colors of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants. Manuka is typically creamed, evening-out the natural honey crystals which makes for a thicker honey texture.

Of the over 200 compounds researchers have identified in the Manuka nectar and Manuka Honey, “three of them are absolutely unique” to Manuka: DHA (dihydroxyacetone), MGO (methylglyoxal), and Leptosperin, says Dr. Charlton.(1)

Manuka is the most researched honey with over 9,000 published studies and is used in topical skin care and wound care applications in hospitals. Manuka Honey benefits and efficacy are why people tend to choose this honey over others.

What is UMF™?

UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. It is the purity trademark that guarantees the key compounds that authenticate Manuka Honey. The UMF Honey Association has a world-leading science program identifies the unique signature compounds of genuine Manuka Honey to protect consumers and the industry.(2) When you see UMF™ on a label, you can be assured you’re getting a monofloral Manuka Honey that is guaranteed to contain the three key signatures found only in Manuka Honey (DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin).

When it comes to the UMF rating, what is the difference between 5+ and 20+?

The UMF™ rating number represents the unique signature compounds of Manuka Honey. Certified UMF™ Manuka Honey typically ranges from UMF™ 5+ to UMF™ 20+, with UMF™ 20+ indicating the highest level of beneficial compounds. The higher the number, the higher the concentration of these compounds, the more targeted the usage for common wellness remedies, which is why higher UMF™ levels also tend to have a darker color and distinctive taste (some might call it medicinal).

What is the difference between monofloral and multifloral Manuka Honey?

Monofloral Manuka Honey comes primarily from the Manuka flower, whereas Multifloral Manuka Honey is made by bees pollinating the Manuka flower as well as honey from other New Zealand wildflowers. The New Zealand government has strict guidelines as to what can be labeled “monofloral” vs. “multifloral”. There are 5 laboratory-tested markers that indicate the presence of plant compounds that determine monofloral vs. multifloral. Multifloral tends to be less expensive, since it is not honey obtained purely from the rare Manuka flower. To get the most bang for your buck when choosing Multifloral, look for a Multifloral Manuka Honey that guarantees the MGO level on the label, such as Comvita’s MGO 50+ Multifloral Manuka Honey.

How do I choose the right Manuka Honey product?

There is a vast difference in quality, bioactivity and price amongst Manuka Honeys, and they are not all created equal! When you are looking for optimal Manuka Honey benefits, the most reliable source for independent tested and certified Manuka would be to select one that is UMF™ Certified. Within UMF, there are levels from UMF™ 5+ to a ultra premium UMF™ 20+. Certified UMF™ 10+ and above are often consumed therapeutically, used topically, and considered medical grade when used in wound care.(3,4,5,6)


The taste of Manuka Honey is sweet, delicious, and has a slight herbaceous flavor with more color and intensity of the distinctive taste at higher UMF™ numbers. Like a good wine, Manuka Honey grows in flavor and darkens over time. Most Manuka Honey undergoes a creaming process after extraction to even out the crystals and has a distinctive thick texture.

What makes Manuka Honey unique for gut health?

One of the notable benefits of Manuka Honey is how it is widely used to support digestive (gut) health. Honey has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine to support gut comfort (Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2015). Research to date has shown it can reduce gut inflammation.(15,16)

Manuka Honey contains a high level of oligosaccharides (5-10%) compared with other types of honey(14). Oligosaccharides are non-digestible carbohydrates that have prebiotic function. Prebiotics encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and thus are important for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

What makes Manuka Honey unique for immune health?

Manuka Honey benefits include relief for coughs and sore throats. In one randomized clinical trial involving 300 children aged 1-5 years old, treatment with honey reduced the frequency and severity of night-time cough, improving sleep for both the child and parents(13).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom both recommend honey as a first-line self-care treatment for acute cough and sore throat in adults and children (> 1 year old) (CDC 2015, NICE 2019).

It has also been used to fight certain infections. The antimicrobial action of Manuka Honey is multifactorial, so bacteria find it difficult to develop resistance to Manuka Honey. Research has shown that Manuka Honey can inhibit species of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.(7-12)


Enjoy a delicious spoonful daily, or add to your tea, toast, yogurt, or smoothie as a daily superfood.

What makes Manuka Honey good for my skin?

Certified UMF™ Manuka Honey with a UMF™10+ or higher rating is medical grade and therapeutic for the skin. It contains the beneficial compounds that provide Manuka’s unique topical antibacterial and health benefits, including support for wound healing, combatting staph infections (such as MRSA)(7-12) and helping treat acne and scarring. To incorporate into your weekly beauty routine, use Manuka Honey as a DIY face mask to keep your skin glowing.

Why does Manuka Honey cost more than some of the other honeys on the market?

Manuka Honey comes from the Manuka flower, a scarce and natural resource found only in New Zealand and much of it in remote forests. It is unique because it contains special health properties used to support digestion, health, and healing. In addition to the unique qualities it contains, the Manuka flower blooms only for a short window each year, and is incredibly sensitive to seasonal weather conditions. It takes immense skill, planning and resources to harvest Manuka Honey (some hives are only accessible by helicopter).

  1. Testing for genuine Manuka Honey – UMF, Youtube video Oct. 31, 2017

  1. UMF Honey Association website,
  2. Carter, DA et al. Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2016; 7: 569 。Published online 2016 Apr 20. doi: 3389/fmicb.2016.00569
  3. Alangari A, et al. Honey is potentially effective in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: Clinical and mechanistic studies. Immunity, Inflammation and Disease, 2017; 5(2): 190 - 199
  4. Michelle Greenwood, Jo Handsaker. Honey and Medihoney® Barrier Cream: their role in protecting and repairing skin. Wound Care, December 2012. S32-S37
  5. Christina L. Duncan, PhD; et al. A Pilot Study of the Efficacy of Active Leptospermum Honey for the Treatment of Partial-Thickness Facial Burns. Adv Skin Wound Care 2016; 29:349Y55
  6. Cooper RA, et al. Absence of bacterial resistance to medical-grade Manuka Honey. Oct 2009, Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. DOI 10.1007/s10096-010-0992-1
  7. Carter DA, Blair SE, Cokcetin NN, Bouzo D, Brooks P, Schothauer R, Harry EJ. Therapeutic Manuka Honey: no longer so alternative. Frontiers in microbiology. 2016 Apr 20;7:569.
  8. Blair SE, Cokcetin NN, Harry EJ, Carter DA. The unusual antibacterial activity of medical-grade Leptospermum honey: antibacterial spectrum, resistance and transcriptome analysis. European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases. 2009 Oct 1;28(10):1199-208.
  9. Lu J, Turnbull L, Burke CM, Liu M, Carter DA, Schlothauer RC, Whitchurch CB, Harry EJ. Manuka-type honeys can eradicate biofilms produced by Staphylococcus aureus strains with different biofilm-forming abilities. PeerJ. 2014 Mar 25;2:e326.
  10. Cooper RA, Halas E, Molan PC. The efficacy of honey in inhibiting strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from infected burns. The Journal of burn care & rehabilitation. 2002 Nov 1;23(6):366-70.
  11. Hayashi K, Fukushima A, Hayashi-Nishino M, Nishino K. Effect of methylglyoxal on multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Frontiers in microbiology. 2014 Apr 17;5:180.
  12. Cohen HA, Rozen J, Kristal H, Laks Y, Berkovitch M, Uziel Y, Kozer E, Pomeranz A, Efrat H. Effect of honey on nocturnal cough and sleep quality: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Pediatrics. 2012 Sep 1;130(3):465-71.
  13. Weston RJ, Mitchell KR, Allen KL. Antibacterial phenolic components of New Zealand Manuka Honey. Food chemistry. 1999 Feb 16;64(3):295-301.
  14. Almasaudi SB, Abbas AT, Al-Hindi RR, El-Shitany NA, Abdel-dayem UA, Ali SS, Saleh RM, Al Jaouni SK, Kamal MA, Harakeh SM. Manuka Honey exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that promote healing of acetic acid-induced gastric ulcer in rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;2017.
  15. Abdel-Latif MM, Abouzied MM. Molecular mechanisms of natural honey against H. pylori infection via suppression of NF-κB and AP-1 activation in gastric epithelial cells. Archives of medical research. 2016 Jul 1;47(5):340-8.
  16. Kato Y, Umeda N, Maeda A, Matsumoto D, Kitamoto N, Kikuzaki H. Identification of a novel glycoside, leptosin, as a chemical marker of Manuka Honey. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2012 Apr 4;60(13):3418-23.
  17. Medhi B, Prakash A, Avti PK, Saikia UN, Pandhi P, Khanduja KL. Effect of Manuka Honey and sulfasalazine in combination to promote antioxidant defense system in experimentally induced ulcerative colitis model in rats.
  18. Prakash A, Medhi B, Avti PK, Saikia UN, Pandhi P, Khanduja KL. Effect of different doses of Manuka Honey in experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives. 2008 Nov;22(11):1511-9.


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