You would think it was a typo: a jar of honey listed on the Selfridges website for £ 1,349.
But it is not a mistake. The True Honey Company’s Rare Harvest New Zealand Manuka honey really costs that much for a 230g jar.
At Harrods, another brand of honey, Koru, costs £ 1,250 for 250g. Health food store Holland & Barrett offers a jar of Manuka Doctor for a less outrageous, yet surprising £ 150. It’s no wonder this honey – made by bees that feast on the manuka trees found only in New Zealand and Australia – is called ‘liquid gold’.
But what could possibly justify such sky-high prices? According to the manufacturers, manuka has a uniquely high content of the health-promoting compound methylglyoxal, or MGO, which comes from the manuka flower nectar. Natural health advocates claim it can help soothe toothaches and burns and even fight the common cold.
Scientists at Cardiff University found that samples of British honey – taken straight from beekeepers – can kill staph bacteria, such as MRSA.
Studies suggest that honey with a high MGO content has antibacterial properties and may be useful in the treatment of chronic wounds infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
While manuka honey is available in supermarkets, critics say most brands don’t have enough MGO to have an antibacterial effect.
So is it really worth it to make a small fortune for a pot? Experts say even regular honey is medicinal because it has the enzyme glucose oxidase, which bees excrete so that they can digest pollen. When it comes into contact with human skin and liquids, a chemical reaction releases hydrogen peroxide, which is antibacterial.
Scientists at Cardiff University found that samples of British honey – taken directly from beekeepers – could kill staph bacteria, such as MRSA.
Other research shows that dressings infused with medical-grade honey – which has been sterilized and selected for high levels of antibacterial compounds – can accelerate ulcer and lesion healing in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Dressings or ointments containing medical grade honey extracts are often used in the treatment of chronic wounds.
The True Honey Company’s Rare Harvest New Zealand Manuka Honey which is listed on the Selfridges website for £ 1,349. But what could possibly justify such sky-high prices?
But the honey that is most effective is indeed manuka. When regular honey is heated for sterilization, making it safe for medical use or eating, the insect-fighting hydrogen peroxide becomes less active.
But manuka honey retains its health-promoting properties when sterilized because MGO is unaffected by heating.
Still, not all manuka honey is made the same way. A UK study examined the antimicrobial properties of 18 types of supermarket honey, three of which were manuka, and compared them to the medical-grade equivalent.
While some of the brands of manuka honey claimed to contain high levels of MGO, the researchers found that none of the bacteria destroyed and contained few health-promoting chemical compounds called phenols.
At Harrods, another brand of honey, Koru (jar pictured above), costs £ 1,250 for 250g
The scientists said the lack of strict controls for store-bought honey meant that in some cases the public overestimated its antibacterial properties.
“Most manuka honey products claim to be effective due to high MGO content, but this is not a reliable indicator of the antibacterial or anti-inflammatory compounds,” said Southampton University Professor Bashir Lwaleed, who has researched the health benefits of honey. for more than a decade.
He adds that the assessment based on MGO is misleading. Scientists are instead looking for the Unique Manuka Factor, which indicates the degree of antibacterial activity. In store-bought products, this usually doesn’t show because rigorous lab testing has not been done in the same way as in clinical research, ”he says.
The benefits of manuka have been proven in wound healing. But there is no evidence that you are giving yourself antibacterial agents that will protect you through eating. ‘
Anyone with a health problem should go to the doctor “and don’t drink honey or put it on your skin in the hope that it will do something.”
He concludes: ‘Honey can be part of a healthy diet. But whether you get it from Harrods or Tesco, it doesn’t matter. ‘