Frequently Asked Questions about Manuka Honey
What is UMF®?
This rating refers to the "non-peroxide" activity - importantly, this is the part containing the enzymes that have been tested and proven to provide the healing properties. Not all Manuka honey has UMF® (non peroxide) activity and this is differentiated by using the terms UMF® Manuka and "Active" Manuka honey.
UMF® Manuka honey guarantees a Non Peroxide Activity. This is measured against a standard Phenol (antiseptic/anti-bacterial) solution to gauge the relative strength of the Non Peroxide activity against Phenol. So, UMF® 16+ guarantees antibacterial Non Peroxide Activity (UMF®) level of at least 16.
Therefore a UMF®20+ honey will contain a higher level of guaranteed non-peroxide activity than an "Active" 20 Manuka honey which uses the combined total of peroxide and non-peroxide activities to generate the rating.
The plus symbol after the UMF level means that the Manuka honey has a strength equal to or greater than the level displayed.
What does UMF mean?
The UMF® (Unique Manuka Factor) trademark was established by the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) to highlight and differentiate honey that has reached a specified level of UMF® antibacterial activity. Not all Manuka Honeys are UMF® rated - only those which have been independently tested and verified by a laboratory licensed by AMHA are given a UMF® rating.
What is a UMF® rating?
The UMF® rating reflects the amount of tested antibacterial activity in the honey.
Why is Manuka Honey more expensive than other honeys?
Manuka Honey is unique to New Zealand and to obtain pure Manuka Honey is a specialised task for beekeepers. Manuka Honey is more difficult to extract and has a limited harvest period as it is only collected at certain times of the year. The therapeutic applications of Manuka Honey are well understood by consumers around the world, thereby creating a continually high level of demand.
The supply is limited - dependant upon a crop which is harvested in a very short time span. In addition to this, the import costs are high as it is generally a heavy product and can only be imported from New Zealand so has to travel half way round the world. The exchange rate also plays a very important role in the pricing costs.
The stronger strengths of 20+ have a tendency to run out around June/July each year which pushes the price higher. Generally, price of the slightly lower strengths 10+/16+ will be more stable throughout the year.
One thought to consider….. A honeybee makes only ½ a teaspoonful of honey during its entire lifetime!
What is the difference between different brands of Manuka honey? What's the difference between "Active" and "UMF"?
It is important to be comparing like with like. As not all manuka honey is the same and not all actually contains the additional unique antibacterial component that its reputation is based on, the UMF® quality standard acts as your guarantee and you can be confident that you are getting the genuine product. The brands that measure 'total activity' and include hydrogen peroxide activity are misleading when compared to the UMF® rating.
The UMF® Guarantee
The registered trade mark UMF® is a guarantee that the honey being sold has the special non-peroxide antibacterial activity to the level indicated on the label and that it has been produced and manufactured in accordance with the rigorous quality standards represented by the UMF® mark. This guarantee applies only to honey produced by companies in New Zealand licensed to use the UMF® mark and requires that the honey is packed and labelled in New Zealand.
Checklist to identify genuine UMF® Manuka Honey
Genuine UMF® Manuka honey complies with all five of the following criteria:
- It has the trademark UMF® clearly stated on the label
- It is packed into jars and labelled in New Zealand.
- It is produced by a New Zealand company licensed to use the trademark UMF®.
- It has the producer's name and UMF® licence number on the label.
- It has a rating of UMF® 5 or more.
Manuka honey not packed in New Zealand cannot display the UMF® logo.
The level of UMF® determines the potential use of honey
- 0 - 4: Not detectable - therefore cannot display the UMF® logo
- 5 - 9: General wellbeing
- 10 - 14: Suitable for therapeutic usage
- 15 and higher: Superior levels with very high activity levels for therapeutic usage
How do you pronounce Manuka?
The emphasis is put on the first syllable - so that you say Ma -noo-ka.
Why does Honey's colour and texture vary?
Honey is a natural product influenced by seasonal and regional conditions. Some areas produce paler honey than others. Like a good wine, honey will grow in flavour and darken with age.
How is Manuka Honey produced?
UMF rated Active Manuka Honey is produced by honey bees from the flowers of the manuka bush (leptospermum scoparium) which grows uncultivated throughout New Zealand. Manuka Honey and its Australian cousin leptospermum polygalifolium, which also has a useful antibacterial action, are the only honeys available for purchase which is tested and verified for their antibacterial activity.
Manuka Honey has a low level of viscosity. Often ordinary honeys are extracted from the combe with the assistance of heating. Heat unfortunately has the effect of degrading some of the qualities of honey although with manuka honey the UMF strength is not affected. Nonetheless, such a precious natural resource is normally extracted from the honeycombe with the use of special centrifuge machinery avoiding the need for heating.
Honey combs are loaded into centrifuge machines that spin the contents causing the honey to separate from the waxy comb. This video footage, available on YouTube, shows the extraction techniques. This process retains the natural qualities of the honey.
What are the benefits of introducing Manuka Honey into our diets?
It supports the body's own immune defences, can help soothe the throat and can assist digestive health. It is also believed that it helps the body's inner balance and is a source of healthy phenolic antioxidants.
What conditions do people take Manuka honey for?
People take Manuka honey for a variety of health reasons including:
- Sore throats and throat infections
- Intolerance reactions: IBS & Crohn's disease
- Stomach, bowel & digestion conditions
- Joint inflammation
- Skin conditions / burns
I am monitoring my carbohydrate intake - how can I include Manuka honey in a low carb diet?
Honey is a natural product unlike white refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. Scientifically, honey is considered to be "opposite" to conventional sugar. It might then be worth including it in your diet, with moderation, for the numerous intrinsic health benefits! One tablespoonful of honey contains 17g of carbohydrates.
I am a diabetic, can I still take Manuka honey?
Nectar from plants is the sugar source for honey. It is collected by bees, stored and ripened in the hive. The resulting honey is rich in natural fructose and glucose. Diabetics should consult their healthcare professional before consuming honey.
For external use on wounds, many diabetics can still use it but this is an area to check with your doctor if you are concerned. The general suggestion is to monitor your blood sugar levels.
Can Manuka honey been taken during pregnancy?
Manuka Honey has been taken by pregnant women for many years with no reported problems as a result of its ingestion.
Can children take Manuka Honey?
We do not recommend that any honey is given to children under the age of 18 months - See the Health Benefits section for more information.
How long does Manuka Honey last for? When does it expire?
Honey doesn't really 'expire' any time soon. As long as it is stored properly and not exposed to too much heat, then our honey will be good for several years. Some products that are mixtures of manuka honey and something else may well expire earlier.
How much / what dosage of Manuka honey do I take? How to take it?
For internal purposes, it is generally recommended to take 1-2 teaspoonsful half an hour before meals. It is down to your circumstances how often you take it: more often for an immediate issue, less often if it is not so severe. It often comes down to some self judgment on how much to take.
Is Manuka honey a help for cancer?
This is always a sensitive subject. It is important to state NO: manuka honey will not help fight cancer. There is currently no supporting evidence that it does and this should be made clear. Where some people appear to have got confused is with some media reports about it being used by cancer patients, for example at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.
However these cases are where the honey may help people with some of the effects of having cancer. In the Christie Hospital case, they have been using manuka honey to aid the healing of surgery of throat cancer patients. In other cases, if people have a poor digestive system, then any boost to their digestive system will in turn aid their body to better help itself and deal with the effects of their situation. This is separate from fighting the actual cancer for which there is no current evidence showing manuka honey as being useful.
What honey should I use wound care?
For external purposes, it is best to use a specialist sterilised product (e.g. Irradiated Honey). Apply the irradiated honey directly to the wound area and, if using a dressing over the top to prevent sticky contact with clothing etc (use as non-absorbent a dressing as possible like Melolin), add a little to the inside of the dressing before applying.
Does the honey sting on application?
Honey has a low pH which can be responsible for any stinging sensation, a very high sugar content and low water content.
About 10-15% of people report some level of 'stinging' when the honey is first applied on a wound (much as you may get from other creams) but this then usually subsides. Excess fluid from the wound is drawn towards the honey which can cause a drawing or slight throbbing sensation.
Any pain or discomfort appears to be due to the acidity of honey as it is not experienced when neutralised honey is used: nor does it seem to be indicative of any damage being done to the wound. In cases where patients have endured some little pain or discomfort, with or without analgesia, wounds have benefited from the stimulation of healing and have healed rapidly .
There is evidence that honey stimulates nocioceptors (Al-Swayeh and Ali, 1998) - the nerve endings that create a pain sensation in response to heat, acidity and some organic chemicals. It is possible that in some patients these nerve endings are sensitised and are more responsive to the acidity and/or the component organic chemicals of honey.
How long can a honey dressing be left on a wound for?
The dressings can be left in place for up to seven days. However, this would depend on the exudate levels produced by the wound and the appearance of the dressing. As long as the dressing has maintained its original colour (the honey is present) it can remain in situ.
When should I use irradiated honey?
To reduce the effects of any possible infection, it is best to use irradiated Manuka honey for skin conditions such as:
- Cuts and grazes
- General wounds
- Leg and foot ulcers
- Skin prone to Eczema, Dermatitis and Psoriasis
- Nappy rash and incontinence dermatitis
- Dry and itchy skin
- Sensitive skin
How do I use medical honey on burns?
All burns should be first cooled with water according to standard first aid protocols. Once cooling measures are complete, the burn should be assessed and medical attention sought if the burn is deep, large or over critical areas such as the face, genitals or over joints.
Medical honey (irradiated honey) can then be applied to a wound and covered with an absorbent, non-adherent dressing such as Melolin. If the burn is on the face, then the ointment is easier to apply because it has a thicker consistency and will not run as easily. Burns may have much higher levels of exudate (wound fluid) than many other types of wounds. When using medical honey products which draw wound fluid into the dressing and appear to increase drainage of wound fluid, you might have to change the dressing more than once a day in the first few days of the burn.
How often should I change the dressing on my wound?
Reapplication and dressing changes should be carried out daily or as directed by a healthcare professional. If there is wound fluid present, more frequent reapplication of the product and changes of dressing may be required. The maximum length of time for which the dressing may be left in place is 7 days.
Can I use these products up my nose?
Yes. If you are applying irradiated honey in the nose, it is recommended that you use the 100% irradiated Manuka honey.
Do you have products for sensitive skin?
Our whole range of Madeleine Ritchie skin crème is suitable for all skin types. It is especially effective for skin that is sensitive.The natural extracts used in Madeleine Ritchie skincare being concentrated and totally free of chemical additives, are very appropriate for sensitive skins. Many of our customers have found they are the only products that suit their sensitive skin.We recommend you patch test a small amount on the inside of your wrist for several days before you use it on your face. If you have any redness, itching or irritation it may indicate an allergy and you should discontinue use and seek assistance of a qualified health practitioner.
What is the history of the Madeleine Ritchie Skincare that you sell?
Founded in 1963, Madeleine Ritchie skincare has become one of the world's leading natural skincare brands. The company traces its proud heritage to the European Spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, England.Madeleine continued the development of the products in Auckland, New Zealand in 1982 sourcing all local ingredients. Madeleine Ritchie skincare is an innovative company having created the world's first honey skincare products and pioneered the development of the world's first active manuka honey skincare.
What products are best for Eczema and dermatitis?
We recommend the 16+ Active Manuka Honey crème (Skin Care Crème) for Eczema.The 18+ Active Manuka Honey & Propolis crème (Skin Health Crème) is best for severe Eczema, Dermatitis and Psoriasis.