RESCU discovers why honey ain’t honey and shares the importance of knowing your UMF rating when purchasing healing Manuka honey


Manuka Honey is invaluable as a natural healing remedy. However, research has shown that many Australians are buying the wrong type of Manuka honey. We asked Comvita’s Australian Healthcare Product Manager, Adam Dyck, to explain the difference.

RESCU: Can you clear up the confusion between UMF Manuka honey and standard Manuka honey?
Adam Dyck: “UMF Manuka honey is very different from standard Manuka honey and is available in a range of strengths.

Any Manuka product without the UMF rating does not guarantee, through independent testing, the presence of the unique properties that the honey has become known for throughout the world.

It’s easy for people to assume that all Manuka Honeys are the same, but this is not the case. For consumers looking for Manuka Honey that lives up to the unique properties they have heard about, the UMF rating is key.”

Comvita has a long history of providing quality UMF rated Manuka honey in countries across the world.”

How the UMF standard works
The UMF standard was established in 1998 to ensure consumers know about the level of UMF activity in the Manuka honey. Laboratory tested UMF ratings range from +5 to +20, which describes the antibacterial activity of the honey. The higher the UMF rating, the higher the antiseptic potency.

To qualify for the UMF rating, Manuka honey must be laboratory tested and packed in New Zealand.

Key facts about the healing qualities of Manuka Honey

by Dr. Peter Molan, Director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato.

1. Wounds heal a lot faster if kept moist. The outer layer of the skin serves to stop water loss from the body, and thus keeps the deeper tissues moist. When the outer layer is damaged, a crust of dried serum (i.e. a scab) forms to act as a barrier to water loss, but this is only partially effective. For regrowth of skin tissues at maximum rate to repair injury fully, moist conditions are required.

2. Manuka Honey creates moist healing conditions, but won’t allow bacteria to grow because of its antibacterial properties.
A wound will not heal if it’s infected. Bacteria produce toxins, and cause inflammation which stops healing, and also cause pain and scarring. A honey with antibacterial potency stops all of these problems.

What is so special about Manuka honey?
Honeys other than Manuka owe their antibacterial properties to hydrogen peroxide produced by enzyme action in the honey.

Hydrogen peroxide is broken down by an enzyme that is in the body’s tissues. The unidentified Manuka factor (UMF) is not broken down, so on a wound, Manuka honey is a lot more strongly antibacterial than other honey.

Another important difference is that the UMF in Manuka honey penetrates skin tissues very easily, so it can reach bacteria in deep-seated infections, while the hydrogen peroxide in other honey does not.

RESCU road-test

We tried medical grade Manuka honey after a nasty collision between our finger and a door. It was a bit messy to apply, but our wounds healed faster than expected and did not get infected.

The UMF 5 level we tested is a good general purpose Manuka honey, but for more serious infections and benefits, we recommend you go to a higher level.

We also used the honey for a sore throat and pregnancy acid stomach, and found it soothing – and delicious.

For more information about UMF-rated Manuka honey and other Comvita products, go to and

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