“In 1981 Kerry Simpson, who was at that time head of Science at Otorohanga College, brought to the attention of Dr
Molan that honey is commonly used by people as an antiseptic, and that in New Zealand manuka honey had a
reputation as having the best antiseptic properties. He was aware of Dr Molan’s research interests in natural
antibacterial substances, and persuaded him to look into manuka honey.
A search of research publications revealed that it had been found in 1962 that the antibacterial activity of honey was
due to the antiseptic hydrogen peroxide naturally present in it. They thought that maybe manuka honey had
something in it which was additional to the antibacterial components of other honey. To test this hypothesis they
measured the antibacterial activity of samples of honey with sufficient of the enzyme catalase added to destroy all the
hydrogen peroxide present. They found that whereas all the other types of honey lost all of their antibacterial activity,
the samples of manuka honey retained in full all of their antibacterial activity.
This antibacterial activity that was due to something other than hydrogen peroxide was termed non‐peroxide activity.
There had been publications reporting findings of very low levels of non‐peroxide activity in some honeys. Manuka
honey was unusual in having high levels of antibacterial activity that was non‐peroxide.”