Mānuka Honey: How to tell if your’s is authentic

I get a lot of questions regarding Mānuka honey and the differences between brands, so I am going to answer some hard truths.

Bare with me through the background information between NZ and Australia rivalry, as it is relevant.

Mānuka Honey or a knock off?

Not all products claiming to be Mānuka are actually Mānuka at all. There are currently no global regulations around the percentage of actual NZ Mānuka honey that needs be in a product to be called “Mānuka honey”.

This means what you might think is 100% Mānuka honey may actually be only 10% and you are still paying the same high price for an inferior product.

Another issue, is Australia marketing their Jelly Bush and Tea Tree honey as Mānuka honey.

Currently there are court procedures in action between New Zealand and Australia as Australian companies are doing what they have done for years, Poach New Zealand’s icons. (Kiwi’s, take a deep breath, it will be ok!)

NZ or Australia?

There is nothing new about the sibling rivalry between NZ and Aussie, and it doesn’t stop with rugby or cricket!

Kiwi’s have grown up with their national icon’s being swindled by Australia, such as pavlova, Phar Lap, the electric fence and Russell Crowe.

However, the attempt to poach the Māori word Mānuka, has taken things to a new level. Not only is Australia trying to claim their Tea Tree is the same as Mānuka (which is false), they are using New Zealand’s native language of Te Reo as a marketing tool for their own gain.

How are Mānuka and Tea Tree different?

To start with, even the Latin plant names are different. While Australia have many Leptospermum plants, Mānuka is not an Australian species, and is native to New Zealand.

While the honey’s may have similar functions, research proves there is a huge difference in the active properties between the honey’s, with NZ Mānuka honey having at least double the active properties.

Due to it’s low toxicity levels and gentleness to the skin, Mānuka oil doesn’t need diluting. It is used internationally in hospitals to treat and dress wounds and burns by preventing bacteria, viruses and fungi from developing and supporting cell regeneration.

Tea tree oil needs to be diluted before being applied to the skin as it has high toxicity levels and irritates skin easily.

Below is a more detailed look at these differences:

Honey dripping from a honey dipper over a jar - by Sonja Langford - Unsplash

“Honey dripping from a honey dipper over a jar” by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

Mānuka Honey

Latin name of Plant:
Leptospermum scoparium

Medical UMF (Unique Mānuka Factor) Grading:
Yes

Main Uses;
Antibacterial, anti fungal, anti viral, anti inflammatory, in natural skincare for healing/acne/psoriasis/dermatitis/eczema, burn and wound dressings (Hospitals), improving immune system, and cellular regeneration.

Active Properties (average per kg);
Leptosperin 784mgDHA 1154mg, MGO 672.

Mānuka Essential Oil

Latin plant name:
Leptospermum scoparium

Main uses;
antibacterial*, anti viral*, anti fungal*, anti inflammatory, restores skin cells and functions, muscle spasms, stress and anxiety, skincare (acne, protection from free radical and UV aging, burns, wounds, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis), rashes, reducing itching, insect bites or stings.

Toxicity levels:
Low

*10–30x more effective than tea tree

New Zealand - Bee

Photo by Santiago Esquivel on Unsplash

Jelly Bush Honey (Australian “Mānuka”)

Latin name of Plant:
Leptospermum polygalifolium

Medical UMF (Unique Mānuka Factor) Grading:
No

Main Uses;
anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, in skincare for acne or oil prone skin, insect wounds and bites, immune support, wound dressings.

Active Properties (average per kg);
Leptosperin ??(some studies show up to 394mg), DHA 689mg, MGO 313mg

Tea Tree (Australian “Mānuka”)

Plant name:
Melaleuca Alternifolia

Main Uses;
anti bacterial, anti fungal, insect bites and stings, repels head lice, decongestant, anti itch, skincare (acne, oily skin, fungal treatments)

Toxicity level:
High

How can you as a consumer protect yourself?

Carefully reading the label of what you are buying! In all honesty, if it doesn’t have the UMF certification, it’s probably not medical grade Mānuka honey regardless of where it comes from.

However, if you are happy paying exorbitant prices for uncertified products, ensure the Made in NZFernMark logo’s or “100% NZ Mānuka Honey” is on the labeling. This way you can be 99.9% sure that you are receiving the genuine thing.

You can read 2 of the complete independent studies on the following links;

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