What is MGO in Manuka honey?

    If you have ever looked into Manuka honey, you have probably noticed that there are different kinds of it. Every jar has a tag with numbers. They are ratings that show the strength and potency of the product. In this article, we’ll break down the meaning of one of those ratings.

    What is MGO?

    Manuka honey is special due to its medicinal and antibacterial properties. One of the reasons for such qualities is the presence of methylglyoxal (this is where the MGO abbreviation comes from) in its content. It’s a chemical compound that causes an antiseptic effect. 

    The concentration of MGO in this kind of honey is 100-fold higher than in others. But it’s still not the same everywhere. The difference mainly comes from the flowers that produce nectar. If bees gathered it only from Manuka trees, the MGO rating will be higher. In case other flowers were used, honey's potency will be affected. 

    To find out how potent Manuka honey is, each batch of our Manuka gets tested and these properties are marked on a tag. The ratings are based on the concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO) in Manuka honey. The higher the level, the more potent the honey. Usually, they range from MGO 150+ to MGO 1717+.

    Properties of MGO

    Most kinds of honey are supposed to have antibacterial properties thanks to hydrogen peroxide they contains. However, in contact with a wound, this breaks down to oxygen and water. It happens because of enzyme catalase that is present in blood, as well as serum, saliva and some tissues. This way, there is no antiseptic potency left in the substance.

    Manuka honey is special since it still has antibacterial properties even after hydrogen peroxide disappears. This quality is called non-peroxide activity (NPA). It is possible due to MGO. This compound is a result of dihydroxyacetone conversion, a high concentration of which is contained in the Manuka flowers’ nectar.

    A lot of research studies have proved that honey with such components can kill pathogenic bacteria. It is effective in dealing with a great variety of microorganisms and even with multi-resistant strains. One of the examples is Campylobacter that causes digestive disorders. 

    Interestingly, MGO and hydrogen peroxide are not the only substances with antimicrobial qualities. The healing properties also come from flavonoids and acids that are included in Manuka honey. And this is not the only product that contains methylglyoxal. It was also found in bread, wine, soya and beer.

    mgo in manuka honey

    How are MGO ratings generated?

    Usually, when Manuka honey is produced, the concentration of methylglyoxal is different to what it ends up at the time of bottling. So, how does this concentration change? It happens during its storing. When the temperature is about 22°C, the level of the compound activity increases. Medicinal use Manuka honey starts with MGO concentration being above 300 mg/kg. 

    What influences this rating? It’s the content of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in Manuka nectar, which is the base for methylglyoxal creation. Another factor is the extent of Manuka bloom and another important thing is the behaviour of bees — whether they gather nectar only from Manuka flowers or others as well. As a result of all of this, Manuka honey may vary in strength.

    MGO ratings that you see on labels mean how much methylglyoxal is present in 1 kg of the product. For example, a rating of MGO 550+ means there are 550 mg of it in 1 kg of honey. How is it found? The level is defined with the help of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). During this process, complex mixtures are separated into elementary compounds. 

    What strength of Manuka honey is the best?

    There is no exact answer to this question. It depends on your purpose of using Manuka honey. If you’re going to do it just for health maintenance and daily use, honey with lower MGO levels will be enough. You can use it in cooking, baking, as a topping to your breakfast or mixing it into your drink. Our product range includes single use Manuka straws or exciting superfood blends

    Honey that has a higher MGO level and more potent antiseptic properties is used for medical purposes. It may help with wound treatment, digestive problems, cough, sore throat and acne. These issues are caused mainly by pathogenic microorganisms, that’s why antibacterial properties of the Manuka honey may assist in treating them. In this case, it’s better to choose higher MGO levels, from 300+.

    Why Manuka honey from Biosota?

    We believe that honey is not only a tasty addition to your daily life but is rich in elements that help to maintain and improve health. That’s why we care about the quality and properties of the products we provide. Having a bee farm in a remote Australian forest and modern production facilities helps us to produce 100% natural raw honey, which is unheated and Australian certified organic. Experience for yourself, try something from our wide range today


    1 comment

    • Which is the best mgo honey to purchase for stomach problems such as ibs, lactose intolerance, etc. I have many. Please advise, as i would like to place an order. Thanks

      Chris Corsaro

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