Medicinal Honey


What is medicinal honey?

Humans have used honey for its healing properties for thousands of years, but until relatively recently it was dismissed by many involved in modern medicine as "alternative", untested and ineffective. However, an increasing number of scientific studies have now shown the effectiveness of honey for wound care, gut health and well being. Its efficacy is due to the activity of anti-bacterial agents in the honey that can control infection and promote healing.

A common misconception is that honey is a standard product. However, the taste, colour and antimicrobial activity of honey will vary greatly depending on the flowers bees visit to collect the nectar they turn into honey.

All honeys possess antimicrobial (i.e. germ-killing) activity to some extent, due to hydrogen peroxide producing enzymes in it. Some honeys also contain methylglyoxal (MGO) which produces the antibacterial and antimicrobial activity in these honeys.

If the MGO levels are above 500 in their rating the honey is considered to be medicinal in its usage.

Below are some examples of medical grade honey usage.

To buy some of our new Gather By Bioactive Honey, visit our Honey store.

First Aid honey for cuts, wounds and burns

  • Inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria at the wound site
  • Provides a moist wound healing environment
  • Assists to lift debris and dirt away from the wound site
  • Helps to minimise scab formation and scarring
  • Provides a protective barrier between the dressing and the wound
  • Helps prevent sticking and irritation of the dressing to wound site
  • Antioxidants reduce damage caused by free radicals at the wound site
  • Stimulates cytokine release which reduces inflammation and speeds up the wound healing process.1

For oral and throat care

  • Relief of the symptoms of sore throat
  • Relief of symptoms of sore gums
  • Relief of mouth ulcers
  • Maintenance of healthy digestive function
  • Relief of indigestion
  • Contains naturally occurring sugars

To buy some of our new Gather By Bioactive Honey, visit our Honey store.

Why is this bioactive honey often called "Jellybush" honey?

Jellybush gets its name from the thick gel-like nature of the honey that the bees gather from a species of plants native to Australia and New Zealand, the Leptospermum. Bioactive Jellybush honey contains both hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal (MGO). Both of these chemicals have been researched by scientists in Australia and around the world and have been shown to have antimicrobial properties. These honeys are:

  • High in antioxidants
  • High in hydrogen peroxide releasing enzymes
  • High in MGO

The antioxidants within the honey are also able to reduce the effects of free radical damage. These natural properties impart potent cleansing qualities to the honey with proven health benefits when taken internally or applied externally to the skin.

Not all jellybush and manuka honeys are active, so always choose a honey that has been tested for it bioactivity before using it for medicinal purposes.  

Here are the rating systems you need to be aware of: 

Active Leptospermum honeys are tested at independent laboratories before being packaged to verify the level of non peroxide activity in the honey at the time of packing. The batch of honey is given an MGO rating number to show levels of methylglyoxal in the honey.

In New Zealand the Leptospermum honeys are generally called Manuka honeys and often, in addition to MGO rating, a parallel rating system is  printed on the jar, the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF rating. This is a trade marked rating system that is unavailable to Australian honey producers and packers.

A select few high quality Australian Leptospermum honeys have their own trade marked rating system called Unique Leptospermum Factor (ULF) and will show this rating number on their labels along with the equivalent MGO numbering. Medicinal honeys using the UMF and ULF rating will  show a number of UMF or ULF at or greater than 12+.

Seasonal variations in colour and texture of jellybush or leptospermum honey can occur due to the flowering of other plant species at the same time, but the activity is always guaranteed.

20+ WOUND & ORAL CARE 800mg/kg
15+ MEDICINAL USE 550mg/kg

To buy some of our new Gather By Bioactive Honey, visit our Honey store.

About the ULF Rating System

Please take the time to read and understand the importance of the 'ULF' rating system for Jellybush honey. While Jellybush honey has received increasing press coverage, often the difference between ordinary Jellybush honey and bioctive Jellybush honey is often not  distinguished on the jar label.

The ULF rating is an indicator as to the strength of the antibacterial effect. A rating of 12+ is considered to be suitable for therapeutic purposes. This honey is referred to as 'bioactive', although much ordinary Jellybush honey is still marketed as being active if it does not display an MGO rating and/or a UMF/ULF rating its activity will be due to hydrogen peroxide producing enzymes and not the methylglyoxal in the honey.

The ULF rating is your guarantee that this Australian Manuka honey has been tested and verified for its antibacterial activity.

What does the word 'bioactive' mean?

This refers to the ability of Australian Leptospermum honeys to kill or inhibit the growth of many bacteria and fungi. The level of this 'activity' or antimicrobial quality is determined by specific laboratory tests.

The two types of 'activity' in Leptospermum honey are:

1. The Hydrogen Peroxide Activity

The first and most common form of antibacterial activity is due to the slow release of hydrogen peroxide with the help of the enzyme glucose oxidase present in honey.

There is a great variation in the hydrogen peroxide releasing ability of different honeys with some honeys being no more antibacterial than sugar. The reason for this variation is probably due to the fact that the enzyme responsible for the release of hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to both heat and light and to other natural chemical compounds within some honeys. This enzyme can be deactivated by exposure to heat, light and natural phytochemicals and reduce the honey's ability to release hydrogen peroxide. This is why when some honeys are tested in laboratories they show no sign of hydrogen peroxide activity.

The Gather By cold extraction methods and amber packaging assist to preserve the bioactivity of the honey we bring to market.

2. The Unique Leptospermum Factor +ULF (TM) or Non-Hydrogen Peroxide Activity

The Unique Leptospermum Factor is related to the presence of a natural phytochemical identified as methylglyoxal (MGO). This antibacterial property is unique to honeys produced from Leptospermum plants. The methylglyoxal (MGO) component along with a small percentage of other phenolic compounds is responsible for the potent ULF antimicrobial property found in Jellybush Honey.

The Unique Leptospermum Factor (ULF) is more stable than the antimicrobial effect of the hydrogen peroxide in the honey as it does not become rapidly affected by dilution. 

This non-hydrogen peroxide activity was first discovered in New Zealand, by Professor Peter Molan whose research has focused on the antibacterial effects of Manuka honey (from the Leptospermum Scoparium species). Professor Peter Molan coined the term "Unique Manuka Factor" in reference to this antimicrobial effect.

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is also found in many parts of southern Australia including NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Australia has 83 species of Leptospermums with over 10 species already identified as producing active Leptospermum Honey.

 To buy some of our new Gather By Bioactive Honey, visit our Honey store.

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