Is all Manuka honey raw?

Is all Manuka honey raw?

The short answer is no, but I’m going to explain why a honey that is heralded as the king of honeys, highly medicinal and extremely good for us doesn’t have to be consumed raw. I will also dig deeper into the benefits of raw honey so we have a clearer understanding of the differences between the good honeys and the bad.

“Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

What is raw honey?

Raw Honey is defined as honey made from any type of flower or plant as long as it exists in its natural state, in the beehive itself or by its extraction, handling, straining, without adding heat. Raw honey is kept at the same temperature or below as the hive and so retains its nutritional and healing properties. Honey that is pasteurised loses these properties as does honey strained through micro filters. Raw Honey is simply honey made from any kind of flower or plant source including the Manuka flower in its raw state.

All raw honey has a multitude of uses. It can aid coughs, colds, digestion issues, it can balance blood sugar levels and ward off allergies. Full of antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can assist our health and taste great as well.

Why raw honey is good for us

Raw honey is loaded with trace minerals, organic enzymes, and antioxidants. In addition to nutrients like vitamins B and C and magnesium, honey also contains pre- and probiotics, and a range of flavonoids and phenolic acids that serve as antioxidants. Raw honey is ‘alive’. All raw honeys, including Manuka, has bee derived compounds like peptide called bee-defensin, in 2 forms (bee defensin-1 and bee defensin-2), and is a natural part of the bee-hives immune system.  This peptide is a known antibacterial agent, and consumption of it is thought to help promote our digestive and immune systems.

Other compounds found in raw honey include a number of polyphenols, such as caffeic acid and catechins  (which are also found in green tea). These polyphenols are known to promote antioxidant properties within the body, which can help the body protect against oxidative damage.

Raw honey also contains aliphatic and aromatic acids and it is these acids that contribute to the flavour of honey.

What’s different about Manuka Honey?

This amazing honey comes from the Manuka bush or leptospurnum plant, a member of the tea tree family. It’s known mostly as coming from New Zealand but Australia has Manuka too. In recent months there has been a lot of talk in the news about the rivalry between the two countries as New Zealand trademarks the name Manuka as theirs. You can read more about this in my previous posts  True to Taste But is Your Manuka the Real Deal?

In 1981, researchers at the New Zealand University of Waikato discovered that Manuka honey has a higher level of enzymes than regular raw honey, the DHA (molecule) gives it the extra antibacterial healing qualities. Bees forage the Manuka plants for nectar carrying the DHA to the hive where excreted from their mouths is converted to MGO (methylglyoxal). All natural honeys have an enzyme, hydrogen peroxide that creates antibacterial properties. Some strains of Manuka are particularly rich in hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone.

High grade raw honeys carry similar medicinal benefits to Manuka but it is the higher concentration of MGO  that separates Manuka honey.

Methylglyoxal is heat stable, and so although heat processing may damage other bio-active compounds, methylglyoxal will remain intact and will be present in the final product. This is why Manuka doesn’t always have to be raw.

However, the natural compounds found in Manuka honey do not all fare as well as methylglyoxal in the presence of heat or light and it can reduces the total antibacterial properties of Manuka honey, and as most honey will be heat treated before being sold, and stored in clear glass jars, many of these compounds become useless. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a global standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength of Manuka with 10+ and above being particularly beneficial for wound care and more serious gastric issues.

When meeting with beekeepers and honey producers in New Zealand and Australia the overriding lesson I learned is all raw honey is good for us and  Why raw honey should be in your medicine cabinet But Manuka and high grade medicinal honeys are best for wound care and treatment of superbugs. The MGO in Manuka honey has shown in some studies to inhibit a number of known pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli and Staphylococcus. With the overuse of antibiotics and resistance a high grade honey might be a natural option.

It’s not to say one type is better than the other but more about meeting your needs and requirements. There are so many great raw honeys to choose from but what is important to know most commercial honeys will be pasteurised or heat treated and so not raw and in some cases will have been contaminated with added sugar or blended with cheaper honeys. So read the labels. If you are looking for something to treat a burn or wound, severe acne then maybe look to Manuka. I wouldn’t necessarily go for Manuka for taste, but try different ones and see, but it really is for health. Balqees Sidr and Honeydew taste amazing and have shown to have medicinal qualities and there is also Balqees Royal Manuka which is sourced from dedicated Balqees hives in a beautiful, remote part of New Zealand on High Peak Estate.

If you are looking for honey as a supplement to good health then always consult a doctor first if you are suffering from any symptoms or conditions. This acts as a guide and shows there is much to learn about this natural product and always look to see the source to know you are getting what you paid for.


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