Active Manuka Honey

Introducing Professor Peter Molan...

Professor Peter C. Molan (MBE) BSc (Hons) Wales. PhD Liv. from New Zealand's University of Waikato is "the founding father of bio active honey research".

For more than 30 years he's led the field, painstakingly researching manuka honey and its effect on burns, ulcers, throat, eye infections and so much more.

The scientific papers he has written for New Zealand's valuable export trade are unquestionably the single most important contributing factor to the success of manuka honey worldwide.

We are extremely grateful and indebted to Dr Peter Molan. He is a man of great character and many hundreds of thousands of people around the world may not have found healing if not for his discoveries and his commitment to the protection of quality manuka honey.

Hear the interview:

Peter Molan

Listen to the enlightening 7 minute conversation as Professor Peter Molan is interviewed by Michael Lowe, founder of Includa Pty Ltd.

Mike Lowe

Read the interview:

When did you first realise that there was something special about Manuka Honey?
What’s UMF all about?
How does NPA compare with the UMF rating?
What do you see as a future for Manuka Honey in the coming years?

Mike: Peter when did you first realise that there was something special about Manuka Honey?

Peter: It would be more than 25 years ago.
A friend of mine, who was a bee keeper and was a long time high school biology teacher, told me about the use of honey as an antiseptic, which I’d never heard of.
He also told me that in New Zealand it was folk knowledge that Manuka Honey was the best one to use.
So he persuaded me to have a look at it because I was working on other natural antibacterial substances and that’s where it started.
When I did look at it I found that it had a quite different sort of anti-bacterial activity from that in other honey.

Mike: So what’s UMF all about?
Peter: When I persuaded the bee keeper’s producing the Manuka Honey with this special activity to start selling it as an antiseptic, other people started selling Manuka Honey that didn’t have this special activity, and initially put the anti-bacterial activity rating on the jar.
The Ministry of Health Government regulatory department wouldn’t allow that.
They said that it was a therapeutic claim, so I had to come up with some other way of letting consumers know that it had the special activity and what the level was.
Sunscreen at that time had just started being sold with a SPF rating on it, so we also came up with something like that.
I was actually asked by the New Zealand Government to come up with some way of allowing the producers of the genuine honey to let consumers know that they were getting the genuine product.
So it was meant to be a sort of quality mark that anybody producing the right sort of honey meeting the standard would be allowed to use, but unfortunately in more recent years it’s turned in to a exclusive brand and now you have a situation where I would estimate well over half of the genuine Manuka Honey isn’t allowed to use that brand.
It was a way of showing that it had the genuine special activity and also letting consumers know the levels of that activity.

Mike: There’s an activity measurement called NPA or Non Peroxide Activity. How does NPA compare with the UMF rating?
Peter: Well that goes back the very first research work we did, where we found that Manuka Honey had an unusual activity.
All honey is anti-bacterial to different degrees and some are much stronger than others, and they all owe that activity to hydrogen peroxide.
The bee’s had an enzyme to the nectar which generates hydrogen peroxide in honey when it gets diluted, so that’s the normal peroxide activity.
Now your body, if you have ever used hydrogen peroxide as an antiseptic, you’ll see if you put it on a cut it all froths up, that’s because your bodies got an enzyme and all the cells in your body, in your blood, your saliva, which destroys hydrogen peroxide, so as you see, the bubbles of oxygen form and it gets destroyed.
So that means with honeys’ other than Manuka Honey most of the anti-bacterial activity will be destroyed if it comes in contact with the cells or fluids of the body.
The Manuka Honey has a different sort of activity, it comes from the plant and not because of an enzyme the bee’s have, and that isn’t broken down. So it retains its full activity, and that’s what’s special about Manuka Honey, and that activity is referred to as non peroxide activity.
The UMF rating was initially devised as a way of showing non peroxide activity, to distinguish it from any other honey ever had.

Mike: What do you see as a future for Manuka Honey in the coming years?
Peter: Getting a lot more widely used, this is already happening in the medical profession and there’s a rapidly increasing interest in using it just for its ability to kill bacteria.
But because of research work we’ve recently completed which will be published very soon, we’re writing up the papers and submitting them now, we have explained the anti inflammatory act to the TF honey and found that the Manuka Honey, or at least some batches, you need to test each batch, but in general Manuka Honey is a much higher anti inflammatory activity than other sorts of honey and that’s actually very important for a lot of other things that Manuka Honey is used for.
And we’ve also explained how honey is so effective in cleaning up wounds; If you’ve got a lot of puss or dead tissue attached to a wound, honey is spectacularly fast at releasing that and leaving a clean wound.
And we’ve now explained how that works, which means that medical professionals are more likely to believe it and try it if they can see the mechanism it works with.

TA, UMF, NPA, MGO... Too many ratings?
Let's take a closer look...


TA or ACTIVE on the label of manuka honey refers to Total Activity.

This number is calculated by combining both the Peroxide and Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA) levels of the manuka honey.

This type of activity testing is usually represented with a TA alongside the number such as: TA15+. It's also displayed as just 20+ without any letters.


Manuka Honey Sample The NPA (Non-Peroxide Activity) manuka honey test counts only Non-Peroxide Activity to reveal how strong and potent the active enzymes within the manuka honey are at fighting bacterial infections and inflammation.

As Peroxide Activity is not included in the rating, NPA based manuka honey is always stronger than TA.


The phrase UMF was coined by Dr Peter Molan to reveal the NPA (Non-Peroxide Activity) component of manuka honey. Have a listen to the recording at the top of this page to learn more about why NPA is the key to Manuka's unique properties.

TA or NPA - Which is stronger?

The bottom line is NPA ratings (as used by MX and UMF brands) show only the Non-Peroxide Activity of the manuka honey on the jar, therefore, NPA rated manuka honey will always be stronger than their ACTIVE / TA rated manuka honey counterparts. MX™ manuka honey activity ratings are defined by the NPA (Non-Peroxide Activity) test.


Another way to predetermine the effectiveness of manuka honey is to measure its Methylglyoxal (MGO) content.

MGO is found in high concentrations in manuka honey and according to German researcher, Professor Thomas Henle, is the antiseptic compound mostly responsible for NPA.

While most believe that Methylglyoxal is the key, others are still of the opinion that a combination of Methylglyoxal and other actives within manuka honey synergise to create its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory affects.

The following table reveals an approximated comparison of NPA(MX/UMF) and MGO activity.

Table grade level Not recommended for specific therapeutic use
Maintenance level For increased vitality and immunity
Useful level High antibacterial activity
Superior high level activity For specific therapeutic use

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