Best Manuka Honey Brands Of 2018: Health Benefits and Rating Systems Explained

Fresh.Nutrition.

Apr 06
Best Manuka Honey 2018

We've reviewed some of the best Manuka honey brands on the market. Prepare to get sticky, sweet, and healthy.

Manuka honey is certified to have the highest nutritional content and widest range of health benefits out of all types of honey.

Not all honey is created equal. At its worst, honey isn't much better than high fructose corn syrup. At its best (Manuka honey), it's one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

Researchers measure the mineral content of honey by how conductive is, and the best Manuka honey is four times as conductive as regular flower honey. 

Buying Manuka honey guarantees the highest possible quality.

Health Benefits:

  • Deeper Sleep
  • Weight Loss
  • Cough Suppressant
  • Boosts Antioxidants
  • Fights Allergies
  • Combats Infections
  • Improves Digestion
  • Strengthens Immune System

Our Top Pick

Comvita is our top pick for the best Manuka honey brands of 2018. Why? They’re the company that hospitals and wound care facilities trust for medical-grade honey. Comvita has been an industry leader since 1974. They have over 40,000 dedicated hives (that’s a ton). Comvita uses the UMF rating system, the only ranking scale that can certify medical-grade honey.

Get Comvita While You Can!

Comvita announced in April 2018 that its summer harvest is at a record low. Unusually hot temperatures have caused the bees to under produce. They expect their production to be cut in half this year.

It’s sad news for honey-lovers, doctors, and Comvita shareholders alike. Comvita has a reputation for producing the best Manuka honey for medicinal purposes due to its superior antibacterial content.

Comvita Chairman, Neil Craig, says that the company reached only half of its goal for yields after harvesting over 80 percent of its hives.

Summers across the globe continue to get hotter each year. With bee populations struggling worldwide, it may be a wise idea to stock up while you can. The title of “best Manuka honey” may soon be destined for another company if Comvita continues to have low-yield summers. (R)

Choosing The Healthiest Honey

Manuka honey is raw, organic, and unfiltered.

Raw vs. Not Raw

The difference between raw honey and not-raw honey is large.. 

When manufacturers process honey, it loses a lot of its nutritional content, including beneficial phytonutrients like propolis and pollen. 

If a honey product is labeled as raw, that means it hasn't ever been heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the natural temperature of the beehive.

Manuka honey is strained but never pasteurized (heated). Straining is necessary to remove impurities like dead body parts of bees and other insects.

However, Manuka honey is never filtered in a way that removes beneficial components like bee pollen and propolis. 

In a study conducted by Texas A&M University, 60 different honey products were tested. 76% of them contained no bee pollen. Not good!

Non-raw honey can come from bees treated with antibiotics, like the ciprofloxacin that producers use in much of China’s honey. (R)

Organic vs. Non-Organic

Just like with raw honey, organic honey can’t be heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Requirements for the ‘organic’ label vary from country-to-country, and they depend on the organic or non-organic status of the plants that the bees use to pollinate. 

Because bees roam freely, restricting them to only organic plants gets difficult.

Manuka Honey vs. Other Raw Honeys

Manuka honey is from New Zealand. It's made from bees that pollinate with the Manuka bush. 

In 1981, researchers at the New Zealand University of Walkato found that Manuka honey contains significantly more enzymes than regular raw honey.

These extra enzymes create hydrogen peroxide and other compounds that act as an antibacterial. 

Manuka honey has one of the densest antimicrobial contents of all the foods in the world. 

Manuka​​​​ Honey Nutrition Facts

Raw honey doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar or elevate insulin like other sweeteners. One tablespoon of raw honey is only a 10 on the Glycemic Index.

This gradual rise in blood sugar helps control hunger.

The nutritional content of raw honey is downright impressive. 

  • 22 amino acids
  • 5,000 enzymes
  • 27 minerals
  • a variety of vitamins
  • Raw honey also contains compounds called nutraceuticals that help neutralize the damage from free radicals. (R)

    According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon of raw honey has:

  • 64 total calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of protein
  • 17.3 grams of carbs (all sugar, no fiber)
  • Understanding The Different Manuka Honey Rating Systems

    There are three different rating systems used to evaluate the quality of Manuka honey:

    1. UMF

    2. MGO

    3. KFactor

    They all use different “markers” to evaluate nutritional content. Markers are the specific nutrients that researchers track.

    UMF Rating System

    UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) is the most widely used and the only one that can certify medicinal standards. Buying Manuka honey with this rating system assures top quality. 

    The UMF Honey Association in New Zealand grants UMF certifications to companies that meet their high standards.

    In order to be official UMF Manuka, the label has to 

    This is what the UMF rating system looks like:

    best manuka honey UMF rating

    Make sure the label has all three components. If it doesn't say "UMF", use the "R" symbol, and use a "+" sign, it's not certified UMF Manuka. 

    The scale ranges from UMF 5+ to UMF 20+

    5-9+: Offers general honey health benefits.
    10-14+: Helps with natural healing and bacterial balance (this is the minimum rating you should buy. Otherwise you’re paying a premium price for honey with the same benefits as regular raw honey).
    15+ or higher: maximum medicinal quality; no need to consume more than one tablespoon at a time.

    Markers Used To Evaluate Quality:

    • MGO (methylglyoxal): A compound with antibacterial properties.
    • NPA (non-peroxide activity): The industry’s standard phenol disinfectant. A UMF rating of 16+ has an NPA of 16.
    • DHA (dihydroxyacetone): Precursor for MGO.
    • Leptosperin: A compound used to confirm that the honey was made from the pollen of the Manuka bush.

    UMF honey is the best Manuka honey. It contains both natural UMF and hydrogen peroxide. This greatly increases its antibacterial effectiveness.

    UMF honey is more stable and more resistant to heat than other types of Manuka honey.

    MGO Rating System

    MGO is the second-most widely used ranking scale (it's named after the compound, MGO). It was developed professor Thomas Henley in 2008. Manuka Health uses this rating system, so do a few other companies.

    They track similar markers to UMF. The key is to know that MGO is an adequate ranking system, but it can’t be used to confirm medicinal quality.

    MGO 83 is the lowest rating. MGO 829 is the highest.

    KFactor Rating System

    KFactor is the third ranking scale. This is Wedderspoon’s personal ranking system, developed by them to independently analyze their honey. It has been approved by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries. Interestingly, they use very different markers to evaluate their honey. The scale measures over 250 chemical compounds. It does not measure NPO or MGO.

    There are three Kfactor rankings:

    KFactor 12, KFactor 16, and KFactor 22.

     KFactor 12 is 65% Manuka honey pollen grains, KFactor 16 is 75%, and KFactor 22 is 90%.

    The 3 Rating Systems Compared

    UMF

    MGO​​​​​

    KFactor

    15 - 20+

    400 - 550

    18 - 22

    10 - 15+

    100 - 400

    14 - 18

    5 - 10+

    30 - 100

    8 - 14

    0 - 5+

    0 - 30

    0 - 8

    Best Manuka Honey Brands of 2018

    #1 Comvita

    Comvita is one of the most established producers of medicinal honey. They’ve been perfecting their craft since 1974. That’s seven years before the UMF rating system was even created! Today, they continue to make some of the best Manuka honey on the market.

    Comvita has over 40,000 hives. Compare that to Manuka Health’s mere 20,000. Make no mistake, 20,000 is still a ton of hives. Comvita just does it a little bigger. With their extra resources and profit, they’re able to give back to programs like the Trees for Bees research and other sustainability projects.

    Comvita is the brand that doctors trust to treat wounds and burn victims in hospitals and wound care clinics. Did we mention it’s delicious? If you’re buying your honey to treat a sore throat, or to make a beauty mask, go with Comvita. They’re the best Manuka honey for guaranteed quality.

    #2 Pure New Zealand Honey

    Pure New Zealand Honey puts in the extra effort to uphold high standards. They independently test all their batches with the UMF rating system. You can trace each batch of honey from hive to jar with their Honey ID App.

    Like all Manuka honey, Pure New Zealand has never been heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit and is minimally processed.

    Honey making is a complicated and delicate process. A lot can go wrong at any stage. Pure New Zealand is committed to strict quality standards at each phase of production.

    1. Environment
    2. Bees and Beekeepers
    3. Laboratory testing
    4. Color and Moisture
    5. Processing
    6. Packaging and Shipping integrity

    Their extra effort pays off. Pure New Zealand prides themselves on having a high Manuka bush pollen content in their finished product. It’s what gives their honey its dark color and rich flavor.

    Customers looking for the best Manuka honey for medicinal applications will be happy with their UMF 15+. Perfect for treating a sore throat or soothing irritated skin.

    #3 Manuka Health

    Manuka Health is a leader in the industry. They carry the best Manuka honey out of the companies that use the MGO rating system. Taste and quality standards = top notch.

    In customer reviews, people claim that Manuka Health’s honey is effective at treating MRSA sores, a very aggressive type of staph infection.

    Customers also say that it works wonders on their sore throats.

    When you buy UMF-certified honey, you buy it hoping that it will be effective for medical applications like these. 

    Manuka Health’s MGO-rated honey appears to have you covered in this department. Your doctor, however, would not consider it medical-grade.

    Manuka Health heavily diversifies their harvest locations. This is more sustainable for the environment and allows them to offer a higher quality product. Many of their hives are so remote that they can only be accessed by helicopter.

    Bees are free-roaming creatures. There’s always a chance for them to snag some pollen from a plant other than the Manuka bush. The best Manuka honey has the highest percentages of Manuka pollen content.

    Remote hives help to ensure high Manuka pollen levels.

    If you decide to buy MGO-rated Manuka honey, go with Manuka Health.

    #4 Kiva

    Kiva is another producer of premium UMF-certified Manuka.

    While they don’t disclose as much detail about their beekeeping and harvesting practices, they pass the UMF standards with flying colors. From what we can tell,  Kiva is still one of the best Manuka Honey brands on the market.

    Don’t be confused when your order ships from Hawaii. Kiva is based out of Honolulu, but their honey is harvested in New Zealand’s coastal regions. 

    According to their website, their UMF 15+ honey is the equivalent of an MGO 510+.

    #5 Wedderspoon

    Wedderspoon is always researching new ways to innovate in the honey industry. Right now, they’re one of the best Manuka honey products on the market.

    Although their KFactor ranking system can’t officially certify medical grade honey, Wedderspoon does a thorough job of tracking over 200 compounds. They’re also non-GMO verified.

    Wedderspoon focuses on maximizing the percentage of Manuka pollen grains in their honey.

    Their lowest ranked honey is a K12, which has 65% Manuka pollen grains.

    K16 contains 75%. K22: 90%.

    Some customers have complained about an inconsistent taste between batches, but I take this as a good sign.

    A naturally harvested and minimally processed honey product should be a little inconsistent. Nature never does anything the same exact way twice.

    Wedderspoon is a leader in the industry for a reason - they make some of the best Manuka honey around.

    Manuka Honey Health Benefits

    1. Deeper Sleep

    2. Weight Loss

    3. Cough Suppressant

    4. Boosts Antioxidants

    5. Fights Allergies

    6. Combats Infection


    1. Manuka Honey For Deeper Sleep

    Eating raw honey before bed helps you sleep better by doing two main things.

    1. Supplying the liver with the fuel it needs for a restful, restorative sleep.

    2. Triggering melatonin production in the brain.

    Eating honey before bed isn't guaranteed to help everyone sleep easier. If you're having trouble sleeping due to low liver glycogen levels, then eating raw honey before bed can be effective.

    Low glycogen leads to low melatonin production and a restless night's sleep.

    Raw honey helps me sleep. I take it regularly before bed along with magnesium and GABA supplements.

    It's always a good idea to experiment with different supplements to target the cause of your restlessness and have the best sleep possible. 

    The Blue Box Below Is For Nerding-Out On The Science Behind Raw Honey And Sleep

    1. Raw Honey Keeps the Liver Full

    Dr. Ron Fessenden, MD, the author of the book “The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations,” explains that raw honey is an ideal fuel source for the liver, which works hard while you’re sleeping to help you burn fat and rest deeply. The best Manuka honey ​+ bedtime = you sleeping like a baby.

    According to Fessenden, raw honey contains “an ideal ratio of fructose to glucose” to support the liver.

    A depleted liver is a stressed liver, and a stressed liver leads to terrible sleep, and a stressed you.

    The problem is that the liver gets’s depleted of its favorite fuel source, glycogen, pretty quickly if it doesn’t have a full tank before you hit the hay.

    Both the brain and the liver use glycogen as they busily repair cells and metabolize fat throughout the night.

    Raw honey has exactly what the body needs to make glycogen.

    Think of eating raw honey before bed as a trip to the gas station for your liver and brain.

    Your brain uses up liver glycogen first before moving on to burning muscle glycogen.

    If your liver is already depleted of glycogen before you go to bed, your brain will think it’s starving, start throwing a fit, and disrupt several key processes related to sleep and fat burning.

    An alarm will sound in the form of adrenal stress hormones that break down muscle mass to create more glucose. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling anxious, it could be because you’re low on glycogen.

    You might also have a difficult time falling back asleep with your adrenal glands in overdrive.

    The presence of cortisol and adrenaline will bring the production of this essential hormone to a screeching halt.

    Eating raw honey before bed will supply your liver and brain with enough glycogen and give you a better chance at a restful night’s sleep.

    2. Eating Raw Honey Before Bed Triggers Melatonin Production

    Melatonin is a hormone that’s exclusively fat burning. It activates sleep through a variety of mechanisms, including reducing body temperature.

    It also prevents a rapid drop in blood sugar levels by inhibiting the release of insulin from the pancreas.

    Melatonin also promotes the release of growth hormone, which is the primary hormone used in cell recovery and repair.

    You might recognize melatonin from the shelves of your local health food store where it’s sold as a popular sleep-aid supplement.

    Eating raw honey before bed leads to a healthy brain that produces enough melatonin for a good night’s sleep.

    How Eating Raw Honey Before Bed Unlocks the Door to the Brain

    Ever heard of the infamous amino acid tryptophan?

    It supposedly is what makes you sleepy after stuffing yourself full at Thanksgiving dinner.

    Tryptophan, as it turns out, is an essential building block in the production of melatonin, and it competes with many other amino acids for transport channels to cross the blood-brain barrier.

    Once tryptophan gets into the brain, it’s used to make melatonin.

    But with so much competition to cross into the brain, it can be difficult for enough tryptophan to sneak through.

    The natural sugar in raw honey raises insulin levels slightly, and this rise in insulin diverts the competing amino acids for use elsewhere in the body.

    With the competition temporarily distracted, more transport channels are available on the choo-choo train into the brain.

    Chooo-choooooo!

    2. Manuka Honey And Weight Loss

    Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause you to gain weight by taking you out of fat-burning mode and into stress hormone production while you sleep.

    When this happens, you're bound to have a bad night's sleep because you won't be able to go through a fully restorative sleep cycle.

    Eating raw honey before bed helps you stay in fat-burning mode by supplying the liver and brain with the right nutrients.

    When you sleep deeply, your brain operates at a slower frequency.

    This slower frequency is ideal for both cell regeneration and fat metabolism.

    Research shows that replacing sugar (sucrose) in the diet with honey helps to curb appetite and support weight management.

    A San Diego State University study found that replacing sugar with honey in the diets of lab rats lowered blood sugar and helped prevent them from gaining more weight. (R)

    A University of Wyoming study involving 14 non-obese women concluded that eating honey had positive weight management effects as indicated by appetite hormones and glycemic responses. (R)

    3. Manuka Honey As A Cough Suppressant

    One double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study indicates that administering raw honey before bed is an effective treatment for suppressing the cough caused by upper respiratory infections (URIs) in children.

    Researchers conducted the study on 300 children between the ages of 1-5.

    Raw honey significantly reduced the frequency and severity of the coughs and improved sleep quality for the children and their parents. (R), (R)

    4. Manuka Honey Boosts Antioxidants

    Honey is clinically proven to raise antioxidant levels in the blood.

    Antioxidants have a powerful effect on improving immune system function by protecting the body from damage by free-radicals

    Honey contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that's proven to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

    In one study, 25 people were fed four tablespoons of honey a day for a month. Researchers found a significant increase of polyphenols in the blood. (R)

    5. Manuka Honey Combats Seasonal Allergies

    The bee pollen in raw honey is proven to reduce seasonal allergies.

    A 2013 study found that high doses (1 gram per kg of body weight per day) of raw honey can reduce seasonal allergies over the course of eight weeks. (R)

    6. Manuka Honey Fights Infection

    Raw honey has a long history of being used to treat wounds. Even in pre-ancient Egyptian times, honey was used to treat wounds. Today, physicians continue to use honey to treat burns, diabetic ulcers, and combat staph infections. (R)

    The best Manuka honey is still used in modern medicine to help apply skin grafts and control infection.

    Other Manuka Honey Benefits

    • Improves Digestive Health
      • Acid Reflux
      • IBS and IBD
    • Prevents Gingivitis and Tooth Decay
    • Strengthens Immune System
    • Can be used as a beauty mask to treat acne.
    • Click here for a full article on additional raw honey benefits.

    Conclusion

    Manuka honey has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than table sugar. In other words, it doesn't cause a rapid rise in  blood sugar and insulin response. That's great news for people with diabetes. The best Manuka honey, as long as it's at least UMF 15+, has a wide range of health benefits and uses.

    At-home applications of Manuka honey include: 

    • cough suppressant and sleep-aid
    • weight management
    • appetite control
    • seasonal allergies
    • and much more...

    Talk to your doctor about potential health complications before using honey to treat allergy sensitivities or applying to wounds.