The highest regarded and respected identification letters are MG, UMF, and MGO.
It can be a very difficult question to answer because the internet, bee keepers and commercial companies have all manipulated the truth and elaborated on so many myths about Manuka Honey, the simple truth about its benefits and what it brings from nature to you has been lost.
The second most difficult issue is Manuka Honey is a food just like all other honeys and organisations such as the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) and MPI (Ministry of Primary Industry) in New Zealand state as a food with no additives, no health claims can be made about the honey.
In my 28 years working with Manuka Honey I have seen miracles from its use on open wounds, rashes and a range of internal and external disorders.
Peter Molan, the instigator and research scientist who started exploring the benefits and activity of Manuka Honey 30 years ago in New Zealand, long before anybody was aware of its amazing benefits, based his work on observations while working with dairy farmers in New Zealand. He noticed farmers were using Manuka Honey on cows with mastitis and in bobby calves (newborn calves that are less than 30 days old and not with their mothers) mouths with ulcers and the benefits were miraculous. He wanted to know more about this particular honey. Why did it act differently and have such healing abilities?
Peter already knew about the benefits of raw honey, he was curious why Manuka Honey appeared to have extra properties that worked under unusual circumstances.
Most natural honeys have hydrogen peroxide, this is naturally formulated from the nectar collected and processed by the bees into honey, then deposited in the hive chambers as bee lava food. Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent antiseptic but dilutes and breaks down under environmental changes such as heat, exposure to UV light and if the honey is heated.
So, when we talk about the different levels (number ratings) we’re not talking about the hydrogen peroxide, we are talking about the methylglyoxal (Mg) or the recognised non-hydrogen peroxide anti-bacterial factor which appears to be unique to a range of Tea Tree honeys.
The most powerful benefit to the methylglyoxal (Mg) is its ability to maintain its constituents when blended with fluids or creams, extreme heat and exposure to UV light, this means the honey holds its beneficial elements under exposure to a range of internal and external conditions.
Peter found there were different ranges of methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey and that some Manuka didn’t even have any. He developed a method to read how much Mg there was in batches of Manuka Honey and started a range of numbers from 10 to 20, 10 being the lowest. He also stated later in his research, that it was more than just isolating the amount of methylglyoxal and believed the honeys benefits and reactions needed to be combined with all the trace elements of the honey’s natural makeup. Later 5 and lower were added to his scale and were also showing great benefits. It appeared there didn’t have to be an enormous amount of Mg to be beneficial and active.
My experience leads me to have more faith in Peters research as I have been trialling and working with Manuka Honey for many years and considering most of the Manuka used prior to Peters research gave extraordinary results, it appears to be more about the dominance of the Manuka and all its trace elements along with some traces of methylglyoxal.
My first experience with how amazing Manuka Honey was, came back in 2001. A gentleman from Frankston, Victoria, had a leg ulcer. It was eight centimetres in diameter and had eaten down to the bone and it was complicated by the fact he was diabetic, and it just would not heal.
The surgeon’s debrided (This means cutting away tissue that’s infected and breaking down) the wound three times… If it’s cut far enough back removing decaying flesh, hopefully live tissue will start growing back towards the center of the wound and this process can stimulate new growth. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working.
He called us after having seen on a television program called Beyond 2000, a short documentary about the success they were having in New Zealand with applying Manuka Honey and how they were also experimenting with stomach ulcers with great success. At this time, he could only get the honey from us as we were the first people to bring high-grade pure Manuka into Australia. He contacted us and asked if we would supply some honey, otherwise it was most likely he would have to have his leg amputated and we were his last chance. It only took 1 week, and the wound was clean and fresh tissue started to form around the edges and he said almost all the discomfort and pain was gone. The honey not only killed the bacteria it stimulated fresh tissue growth. He never lost his leg and 12 weeks later the wound had completely healed over, no antibiotic or skin grafts.
That honey was straight from bee keepers to jar, to the wound, no grading no tests, nothing! Just good old, genuine, New Zealand Manuka Honey.
I have seen many more amazing results from Manuka’s rated as low as 30MG+ on humans and I’ve used it with great success on animals who may also have never survived… More on that story in a future post…