How to Choose Manuka Honey

Popularly known as ‘Liquid Gold’, Manuka Honey is a storehouse of unique and rare medicinal properties that cannot be found in other typical honey across the world. We have also addressed the several advantages and benefits of Manuka Honey in our previous blog post that also addressed why Manuka honey is so expensive.

Now the question at hand is how to choose Manuka Honey in consideration of several factors that it is adjudged on- from UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) levels to MGO gradings, there is a myriad of things to consider while purchasing a jar of Manuka honey. 

A typical jar of Manuka honey is classified for a plethora of factors- potency, strength, and purity, which make it suitable and directed at bettering or curing specific illnesses, conditions or organs of the body.

So to figure out which jar of Manuka honey is best for your intended use, you have to know what exactly to look for and what is the correct criteria. We are going to cover all such things in the blog below. Read on to find out more.

Which is the Best Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey is available in the market under a lot of markings, classifications, and gradings. While some of it is labeled as ‘High Quality’ and some others as ‘Low Quality’, it necessarily doesn’t mean that ‘High Quality’ is better than ‘Low Quality’, as goes the saying ‘One size doesn’t fit all.

Each kind of Manuka Honey has its own set of medicinal properties and qualities that are effective and beneficial for its intended usage. While some higher-quality Manuka Honey may have high antibacterial properties, it doesn’t always mean that it is objectively better.

As some low-quality Manuka Honey may be better for regular intake in food and beverages, and also in fashion and beauty intake where the antibacterial property of the honey is not considered the most important factor. 

Having said that, we also want to assert that while you can use a high-graded Manuka Honey as a substitute for a Lower Grade, you cannot substitute a Low graded Manuka honey for a Higher Grade. So to be on the safer side, you can get the correct graded Manuka honey as peruse, or you could also get multiple graded Manuka Honey for multiple kinds of usage. While purchasing Manuka Honey, you can keep 3 factors in mind-

  • What is your intended usage
  • What grading system you should consider
  • What quality grade is best for your intended usage

While we are on that topic, let’s also look at the grading systems of Manuka Honey so you understand this distinction better.

Manuka Honey Grading System

Manuka Honey batches are classified and segregated using a lot of grading systems. While purchasing a jar of Manuka Honey you should first question if the labeled grading system marks and checks for all medicinal properties and qualities.

One of the most common misunderstandings is that the UMF factor and KFactor for Manuka Honey are almost the same, while it is NOT. Some of these grading systems convey medicinal qualities while others do not. Be sure to purchase a jar only after you have thoroughly checked it for the medicinal gradings.

Now when we say ‘medicinal qualities, we do not mean the technical hospital usage or healing quality of the honey. All honey has some amount of naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide in it which gives the honey its antibacterial quality. However, the probable occurrence of NPA (non-peroxide Activity) in Manuka Honey is what makes it unique and much different from the rest of the typical honey. So ‘medicinal quality’ in Manuka Honey is most commonly used for the presence of NPA in honey and that is the essential factor that needs to be checked. 

This unique medical quality of Manuka Honey can be ignored if you are using it for regular consumption in a non-medical scenario. However, if you are buying Manuka Honey for medicinal usage then you must definitely look for the NPA factor and label on the jar. Here are four common grading systems that you can find on Manuka Honey jars-

UMFMeasures NPA
KFactorDoes NOT Measure NPA
BioActiveDoes NOT Measure NPA
MGOMeasures NPA

While we are on that topic, we would also like to cover which grade of Manuka Honey is actually the best. While UMF and MGO are the two grading systems that measure NPA, they are the most common grading systems to consider. UMF levels start at 5+ and can go up to 25+ while the MGO grading system can start at 30+ and go up to 800+. In case you want to compare the two grading systems, we are sharing the chart below-


How to Choose a Manuka Honey Grade

After all that information, you must be wondering what Manuka Honey Grade to choose for yourself. While we have already asserted that you should choose a Manuka Honey Grade depending on your intended medical or non-medical usage, we will further clarify what grade can work best for what kind of usage. There are just three rules of thumb to consider-

1. Low-Grade Manuka Honey for Non-Medicinal Usage

Non-Medicinal Usage of Manuka Honey does not require it to have the antibacterial property essentially so you can go for a low graded jar. You can consider buying a UMF 5+ or MGO 30+, or you can also choose any type of BioActive of KFactor Manuka Honey as well. But keep in mind that it is raw Manuka Honey so it has all the antioxidants and enzymes intact.

2. Minimum of UMF 10+ for Medicinal Usage

Any grade below UMF 10+ does not have sufficient antibacterial properties. Hence, it is advisable to only get a UMF 10+ or higher in case there is a medical requirement and subsequent usage of the honey.

3. Use a Higher Up UMF Grade if Intended Usage Requires Dilution

Diluting the honey reduces its antibacterial properties of the honey. So if you are mixing the honey with food, beverages, or other elements or ingredients, be sure to purchase a higher grade like UMF 15+ or UMF 20+.

Medicinal v/s Non-Medicinal Uses of Manuka Honey

We have categorized the uses of Manuka Honey under Medicinal and Non-Medicinal based on one reason.

The non-medicinal uses of Manuka may or may not require its antibacterial property. While the presence of it might be an added benefit, the absence of it may not necessarily hurt the cause.

But when you need Manuka Honey for Medical Usage, then it is imperative that you do consider the antibacterial properties and the presence of the NPA factor. So the only question you need to ask yourself is if your intended usage requires honey to have an antibacterial activity or not. Here we are listing down some of the Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Benefits of Manuka Honey-

Medicinal UsesNon-Medicinal Uses
Skin ointment for burns and woundsAnti-aging beauty product
Fighting bacterial infectionsSweetener for desserts and beverages
Treating acne and pimplesHealing and soothing itchy or inflamed skin (in cases of mild eczema and bug bites etc.)
Improving overall digestive healthSkin moisturizer and hydration
Treating bacterial infection in the mouth (in cases of tooth plaque etc.)
Relieving sinus inflammation
Treating dry eye by improving inflammation and lowering pH
Inhibiting H. pylori infections

Where to Buy Manuka Honey

Due to its medicinal qualities and unique factors of growth and harvest, Manuka Honey is a rare type that was earlier only found in New Zealand. However, now with changing times, it can easily be found in grocery stores and general stores in the US and also across the world. You can also find it in online stores and on websites. We have a detailed post on some of the best manuka honey brands available online to purchase. Some of the common stores in the United States which sell Manuka Honey are-

  • Few Costco stores
  • The Vitamin Shoppe
  • Kroger
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Whole Foods Market

Precautions and Side Effects

While Manuka Honey is very effective and beneficial for select illnesses and conditions, you should never use it on your own to treat an illness without consulting a proper doctor.

Most importantly, if you are allergic to bees, you should avoid consuming Manuka Honey. Also, if you are diabetic, consume Manuka Honey only after the doctor’s approval. In some cases, Manuka Honey can also combine with certain medications and prove fatal, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy. It is considered best to let your doctor and pharmacist suggest possible interactions and consumption.


In the olden days, Manuka Honey was a rare entity to find but now, you can easily find it in online stores and offline drug stores as well, not just in the United States but all over the world. The only thing to keep in mind is the UMF grading to ensure that the product is authentic and potent and can be used as an appropriate remedy. If you use the tips and details above, you can choose a good high-quality product that can help your immune system and provide the best results for your intended use. 

Aqsa is a part-time home chef and a full-time gourmet who believes that discovering new flavors from various cuisines is one of the biggest joys of her life. A die-hard coffee aficionado, she is also a literature graduate who loves to document her culinary experiences to be shared with a larger audience.

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