Decoding the Manuka Honey Mystery: What do K-factor and UMF mean
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Decoding the Manuka Honey Mystery: What do K-factor and UMF mean

We all love honey; it is sweet and has certain medicinal properties. There are different types of honey based on how and from the plants they are extracted from.

The different types of honey are:

  • Blossom honey
  • Honeydew honey
  • Monofloral honey
  • Multi floral honey.

What Manuka Honey ?

According to JCER.INFO Manuka honey is a monofloral honey. This means that the honey is obtained from bees that predominantly forage on the Manuka tree.

The Manuka tree originally grows in areas of Australia and New Zealand. Every type of honey contains various sugars and other constituents including phenolic compounds.

Manuka honey is darker than most honey; this means that it has a higher concentration of Phenolic compounds.

Extracts from the Manuka were traditionally used as sedatives and antibacterial elements. Since a plant’s nutrients are transferable through honey, Manuka reserves those medicinal properties.

It is very popular in treating wounds due to its antibacterial as well as antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. This healing power is not in all manuka honey, however, due to various factors.


What Is The K-factor ?

The K-Factor is an independent grading system for Manuka honey. The system measures certain factors in the honey to determine its nature.

It is used by the Wedderspoon Company of New Zealand. Some of the factors considered in the K-factor system are:

  • Purity
  • Live enzymes
  • PH levels
  • Antioxidant levels
  • Pollen count
  • DHA

MGO and NPA are not considered in the K-Factor grading system of Manuka honey.

UMF (Unique-Manuka Factor)

The UMF grading system was established by the UMFHA in New Zealand. It tests and grades the strength of active manuka honey.

The UMF value is based on the effect the active honey has on bacteria. In the UMF grading these are the major determining factors:

  • Methylglyoxal (MGO).
  • Non-peroxide Activity (NPA).
  • Dihydroxyacetone


Methylglyoxal is a potent protein-glycating compound that is said to have anti-bacterial properties. MGO is in part responsible for the high antibacterial property of this honey.

Manuka honey’s preference as anti-bacterial to others is because the effect lasts much longer. This long-lasting anti-bacterial effect is due to the Non-peroxide Activity (NPA) of the honey.

Honey contains glucose oxidase which is converts to Gluconic acid and Hydrogen Peroxide in the wound. Upon application onto the wound, the Hydrogen peroxide quickly breaks down to oxygen and water.

This break down happens because of catalase present in body tissue; it destroys any antibacterial effect.

Because of the MGO and other compounds in Manuka , antibacterial effect is not destroyed by catalase. (DermaSciences, 2018).

Manuka honey

Leptosperin is only found in manuka plants and other of the same family. The concentration of Leptosperin does not change over time.

The chemical’s concentration can determine the authenticity of the honey. (analytica, 2018). Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a precursor chemical compound of MGO in the manuka tree nectar.  After the harvest of the honey, DHA converts to MGO over time.

This conversion is due to a natural chemical process that takes about 4 years to complete. High levels of DHA in Manuka honey means High levels of MGO.

The Manuka Mystery Solved

Due to the complex nature of manuka , it has been difficult for most people to understand. Hopefully, after having broken down the honey for you, it will be easier to shop for.

Manuka honey works and the proof is there to back that up. It has a very bright future in the field of medicine