What’s Special About Active Manuka Honey

“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.”

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