Manuka Honey

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey is unique to New Zealand, the nectar being collected by the bees from the flower of the indigenous Manuka tree. Research at Waikato University has shown that all varieties of honey have some anti-bacterial activity. Manuka Honey has tested as having a much higher level of anti-bacterial activity, up to many tens of times greater than the other honeys tested. The term MGO or UMF is used to indicate that the honey has been tested for increased anti-bacterial activity and then rated as to the strength of that activity. 

What makes it special?

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 present within body fluids and tissues.

Some Manuka Honey has additional non-peroxide antibacterial components which are much more stable. This is often referred as MGO. 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).  The methylglyoxal is formed by a chemical reaction that occurs after the bees have processed the nectar into 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 number the more anti-bacterial activity there is in the honey.

MGO stands for Methylgloxal

MGO is a unique naturally-occurring organic compound found in Manuka honey that exhibits potent anti-bacterial activity and has made Manuka honey one of the most sought after honeys in the world.

Over the last couple of decades scientists have tested Manuka honey against a wide variety of bacterial strains and found some Manuka honey was effective in reducing almost all the bacteria tested.  Manuka honey has been found to aid in wound healing and tissue regeneration by facilitating the body's natural ability to heal itself.

The Manuka honey used in Apicare products is from our own hives and has been tested and certified for the MGO level.

How is Methylglyoxal tested?

The first part is a DNA test to detect the presence of Manuka pollen.

The second test establishes tghe levels of four key chemicals: Phenyllactic acid, Methoxyacetophenone, Methoxybenzoic and Hydroxyphenyllactic acid.

If the sample contains these 5 things (Manuka pollen plus the 4 chemicals) then it really is Manuka.

Apicare are moving from using the UMF rating system for our skin care to the MGO rating system,

Why are we doing this?

We believe the MGO rating is a clear, straightforward and easy to understand across all countries.

As we make the transition you will see some our packaging will state UMF and some MGO Manuka honey. 

Please be assured that whatever rating is stated on the packaging MGO or UMF that honey will be used in that product.

When Manuka Honey is being used in skin care it is important not to get too hung up on the UMF or activity rating.  Whilst it is relevant by far the most important factor to be considered is the volume at which honey is included in the formulation.  A few drops of Manuka Honey in a formulation won’t provide any real benefit to the skin, where as a high percentage of honey in a formulation will.  Apicare skin care products contain effective amounts of MGO rated Manuka honey.

For access to all the scientific information and amazing array of research articles that have been written we recommend visiting