While we have known for a very long time that honey has many wonderful natural properties it has only been since 1981 through research done by the Waikato Honey Research Centre, in New Zealand, that it has been scientifically shown that manuka bush (Leptospermum Scoparium ) has flowers that enables bees to produce a honey with very stable and powerful unique antibacterial activity not found in other honeys.

Professor Molan has lead the Waikato Honey Research Centre in extensive research into the properties and potential uses of manuka Honey, in particular. Initially the work concentrated on the unique properties of the manuka honey. It was found the antibacterial activity of most honeys was due to hydrogen peroxide produced enzymically in the honey. But it was found that in manuka honey, if catalase was added to destroy the hydrogen peroxide it still had a significant amount of antibacterial activity remaining. Further it was found that there could be varying levels of the non hydrogen peroxide activity in manuka honey. This lead to developing a testing and grading system for the Unique Manuka Factor of UMF level as used commercially. There are now several other grading systems that have been developed as knowledge increases.


The Waikato University Honey Research Centre has an extensive list of reports and papers giving much more detail on the work done over the past 30 years. Those authored by Professor Molan can be accessed here.

or from here for a more extensive list from the Waikato Honey Research Centre.


Particular note should be made of Professor Molan’s two papers on the medicinal use of manuka honey which gives a well-referenced, easy to read overview of the background of honey’s benefits and manuka honey in particular.