The Difference Between Medicinal Honey and Ordinary Honey
The Difference Between Medicinal Honey and Ordinary Honey
Just like the various flowers, bees retrieve pollen from, each honey variant can be created in different colours, scents, flavours and health benefits, which have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. When you hear ‘honey’, medicinal benefits may not be the first to come to mind. Unless you are a honey connoisseur or knowledgeable in holistic health, it is unlikely for the average honey consumer to know the extent of honey’s medicinal powers, and even more so, the differences between medical grade and ordinary honey.
Yet, raw honey is favoured for its powerhouse of health benefits. As the producer of the world’s strongest honey, Vallentine’s Honey prides itself on our knowledge, expertise and highly regarded honey quality. To harness the benefits of medicinal honey, we’ll walk you through the different honey varieties, how medicinal honey differs from ordinary honey and what to look out for when purchasing your medicinal grade honey.
The Different Types of Honey
There are thousands of types of honey currently available on the global market, but it can be argued that the most commonly known broad types remain ordinary and raw honey. To help distinguish the differences between the most common types of honey, we’ve broken down the production process, health benefits and properties of these variants.
Ordinary “Supermarket” Honey
Ordinary honey is the processed honey you most commonly see in supermarket stores. This variant is most commonly pasteurised and is more likely to be subject to dilution. Heated at high temperatures, fermentation, also known as crystallisation, is prevented. During the pasteurisation process, yeast is destroyed, giving ordinary honey its signature smoothness.
The filtration process then removes air bubbles and any debris that may be present, providing ordinary honey with smoothness and clarity. Although this process is designed to extend the shelf life of the honey, as well as making it more visually appealing to customers, pasteurisation destroys the presence of any beneficial antimicrobials. As bee pollen is responsible for most of honey’s health benefits, the pasteurisation and filtration process significantly decreases the natural health benefits of honey.
As the name suggests, raw honey is honey in its purest form. Honey that has had no manipulation, derived straight from the hive to the jar you pick up from the shelf of your local supermarket. For honey to be classified as ‘raw’ it must exclude processing, meaning any variety of honey can be labelled as ‘raw’.
While raw honey contains vitamins and minerals, the exact nutrients vary between different countries, the environment and the types of flowers the bees harvest pollen from. Due to its unfiltered nature, raw honey contains bee pollen, antioxidants and propolis, a sticky substance that acts like glue bees use to hold their hive together.
Whilst raw honey can contain these remnants, it is safe to consume, yet some honey manufacturers may still choose to strain their honey to decrease this amount to create clearer honey. A 2017 and 2015 study confirmed that bee pollen and propolis can offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties.
Since the pasteurisation and filtration process of ordinary honey diminishes these beneficial elements, it is commonly believed that the rawer the honey is, the more health benefits it can provide to its consumer.
As one of the most recognisable honey variants available hailing from Australia and New Zealand, Manuka honey has earned its well-renowned place in the world of honey for being delicious, as well as a wonderful natural healer. Manuka honey’s unique antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties allow it to be nature’s perfect antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal solution.
Alongside these benefits, Manuka honey also provides antioxidant support. The combination of these properties works together to create a superior natural remedy, capable of supporting digestion, immune function and skin health. The efficacy of Manuka honey has even been proven to be extremely effective for treating wound healing that the FDA has approved its official use.
While the main medicinal use of Manuka honey is assisting burn and wound healing, research has uncovered it is effective in also treating, diabetic ulcers, reduction in IBS inflammation, treating sore throats, promoting good oral health as well as soothing skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
The Differences Between Medicinal Honey and Ordinary Honey
The natural healing properties of honey largely relies on the flower source bees are harvesting nectar and pollen from. What distinguishes medicinal honey, such as Manuka, from other variants, is the plant of origin.
For example, Manuka honey derives from the Leptospermum plant, which provides its superior health benefits based on three potent phytochemical properties. These are,
- MGO (Methylglyoxal, a key compound responsible for the honey’s antimicrobial properties)
- DHA (Dihydroxyacetone, which is the original compound in the nectar which converts to MGO overtime during the bee’s production of honey)
- Leptosperin (a chemical compound that is currently being researched further, but is thought to provide anti-inflammatory properties).
Due to the higher concentration of DHA from Leptospermum plants, bees that pollinate from this plant produce honey that is highly concentrated with MGO. Essentially, this compound is responsible for the superior medicinal properties of medicinal honey, which provides each pot of Vallentine’s honey with the greatest source of antioxidants, antibacterial, antifungal properties.
What are the requirements for honey to be ‘medicinal’ or ‘medical-grade honey’?
The medicinal value of honey varies from pot to pot, due to the varying degrees of DHA in each Leptospermum plant. The time the honey is stored also has an impact on the level of medicinal value. If stored too long the DHA and MGO start to reduce. However, if not left long enough to age, the DHA hasn’t had enough time to react with enzymes to create an optimal level of MGO. This is why it is important you purchase local and fresh to ensure the honey hasn’t been stored for extended periods, as well as local Australian pollens and farmers.
It goes without saying that plants with higher levels of DHA produce greater amounts of MGO, which sparks the need for grading systems such as UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). UFM is a system that refers to the level of medical activity in each jar of honey. The scale ranges from UMF 5+ to UMF 20+. Since the medicinal benefits of honey rely on high enough levels of DHA and MGO, the rule of thumb is to achieve honey with a UFM rating of 10+. It was a 2017 study that found this rating to have increased antibacterial properties.
Another unique property of medicinal honey is the presence of “non-peroxide activity” or NPA. Deriving from MGO, it is NPA that makes Manuka honey more potent and stable. At Vallentine’s Honey, the antimicrobial activity is measured using the benchmark antimicrobial tests, the NPA (non-peroxide activity) and TA (Total Activity). Both of these tests are phenol comparison tests, and our honey scored a consistent 32.8 NPA and 32.8 TA over multiple batch samples.
What to Look Out for When Buying Medicinal Honey
You don’t have to look far to see there are a plethora of honey varieties available online, grocery stores at markets. To ensure you are only purchasing honey that has medicinal properties, it is necessary to understand that not all jars of liquid gold are created equally.
While purchasing store sold honey can be convenient, more than a quarter of commercial honey brands are unethical, and often dilute their honey with high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners, to monetise their yield and reduce costs. While these products may be legally labelled as honey, they are essentially honey-flavoured sweetener.
As Australia is the fourth-largest producer of honey globally, it is discerning that out of 95 commercial honey brands available, 27% were found to have questionable authenticity. For consumers wanting to receive the most benefits of honey, as well as decreasing their intake of highly refined sugars, avoiding commercial ordinary honey is recommended.
To ensure you’re receiving the healing properties in your honey, keep an eye out for NPA ratings (non-peroxide antibacterial activity), and UMF ratings. The UMF rating simply identifies the amount of NPA available in the honey. Staying loyal to brands that contain MGO, but also have high levels of MGO, is a key pointer in selecting the best medicinal honey you can buy.
Vallentine’s Honey is proudly single-origin honey straight from the local beekeepers in picturesque Byron Bay into the jar. As 100% Australian honey, we believe the best honey is right here on our doorstep. We don’t blend our honey, and you have our promise in creating high quality, strongest honey locally available.
We are proud to present our selection of medicinal honey that has a rich, distinct flavour and abundance of holistic health benefits. To get your hands on a jar of nature’s perfect remedy, you can contact a member of our friendly team today.
To learn more about the secret of Vallentine’s Honey, visit our blog, which devolves the history and benefits of everything liquid gold.
Popular uses of Medi...
Known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, honey is renowned as one of nature’s superfoods. While medicinal uses of honey date back to ancient civilisations, not all honey is the same. Raw honey...
The Healing Properti...
Natural health solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Skincare specialists have long proclaimed that raw honey is a miracle cure for dry and damaged skin. But what’s behind their claims? Can honey be a...