All varieties of honey have some anti-bacterial activity; however Manuka Honey has tested as having a much higher level of activity - up to many tens of times greater than the other honeys tested. There are a number of reasons for the antibacterial activity of honey. The high sugar content of all honey means there are few water molecules available, making it difficult for micro-organisms to establish, and the generally low pH is enough to inhibit many animal pathogens. The primary reason for anti-bacterial activity in most honeys is the slow release of hydrogen peroxide, which results from the action of the enzyme glucose oxidase when honey is diluted. However, this Hydrogen Peroxide can be broken down by heat and light, and may also be broken down by the catalase enzyme which is present in body fluids and tissues.
Some Manuka Honey has additional non-peroxide antibacterial components which are much more stable and have been called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). The non-peroxide activity is due to the combined action of methylglyoxal (MGO) and another as yet unidentified synergistic component (that enhances the anti-bacterial action of methylglyoxal). This unique manuka factor is present in full strength UMF manuka honey, which provides a more potent anti-bacterial action and diffuses deeper into skin tissues than the hydrogen peroxide effect from other types of honey.
Manuka Honey can be tested for its level of non-peroxide activity and issued with a number to indicate how active it is. So, a rating of 10 indicates the same level of antiseptic potency of a 10% solution of Phenol (Carbolic Acid). The higher the rating, the higher the activity and therefore the greater the healing ability
For more information please see our Manuka Honey section under Product Information.