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What is your understanding of medical grade honey

Discussion in 'Bee Products & Recipes' started by Grant, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    We hear a lot about the properties of Manuka honey, its trademark UMF rating system and medical grade honey. But what is your understanding of the process that defines medical grade honey? What makes it different to normal manuka honey?
  2. Aquila

    Aquila House Bee

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    It has a sticker on the jar saying "Medical grade honey" and is ten times the price?
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  3. John V

    John V Pupa

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    And we just paid to have some put on our dog's foot at the vet the other day...No that was Active Manuka
  4. Beehavn

    Beehavn Pupa

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    One can get VERY cynical about standards set by yobbos in some office. Especially over a product that has been swallowed and regurgitated many times. However you have to protect your product from "immitation" by ....... maybe I should use "off-shore", and other sources that have no scruples but an overt love of the folding stuff. Unfortunately, knowing about the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, and the concepts of clinical cleanliness, one day we may well wonder if there is any real Manuka Honey in the medical grade stuff. For sure the pharmaceutical chemists are desperately trying to synthesise the stuff without having to go anywhere near a bee or beekeeper.
  5. Gavin Gear

    Gavin Gear Drone

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    Medical grade manuka honey is ONLY that honey harvested to the protocols established in Wounds UK publication, Chapter 5 if memory serves.
    UMF is not medical grade - it is food grade
  6. Beehavn

    Beehavn Pupa

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    hmmm. Look the bloke's from the USA and quoting a UK protocol. You have to ask what they really know how the bees collect something we in NZ know about. Between you and me and the hive I don't care what they say, Medical grade, UMF or whatever, the Manuka honey is what it is and can vary from season to season, location to location, hive to hive. You can set standards, and subject the stuff to comprehensive analysis from one source that is aiming for "added value through analysis and consistency", yet the apiarist with the bees down the road, that just harvests the same quality and packs it for his own use; with less mucking around on paperwork and laboratories; his Manuka honey, even if just labelled UMF, or just Manuka Bush honey, will be as effective as "Medical" grade. Plaster it on with a spoon or lolly stick it'll work everytime. The authorities and pharmaceutical companies don't like this. They want people forced to use Manuka that has been processed through their cartels. Wait and see, they'll try and make it illegal to take Manuka honey out of your own hive and stick it on your neighbours burns to salve as well as help heal the wounds. Read a few US sites about the actions of their authorities regarding herbal, and alternative medicine and healing options, as well as the food bills that enable them to trample home gardens and arrest folk with SWAT teams for quite innocent growing and sharing of crops and organic foods. Use only Medical grade, yeah right, or else! A cynical viewpoint.
  7. john berry

    john berry House Bee

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    there are several different subspecies of Manuka and this along with different environments leads to a huge variation in manuka honeys . All honeys are anti bacterial to some extent but in some areas a compound called Methglyoxil (please don't quote me on the spelling) occurs at various levels in the manuka honey. In the past this was sold under the Umf (unique manuka factor) label . There were several levels of potency ranging from I think 10 to about 30. There are now several competing labels but they are all selling basically the same product. Medy honey is just honey that's been so pasteurised and filtered that is nothing left in that they can do you any harm and possibly any good. A umf factor of 10 is generally considered by researchers to be adequate to treat most things that can be treated by manuka honey and it may be a good idea not to eat any honey with a factor above this level. I have a few Northland manukas growing beside some local ones in my garden and they are totally different plants with far bigger leaves and flowers and a completely different feel. Fortunately we don't produce active manuka honey in our hives so we don't have quite the pressure that some areas have. We keep a brought jar of umf 10 in the cupboard for treating infected wounds (it really does work) and it her own manuka honey just for the flavour.
  8. Gavin Gear

    Gavin Gear Drone

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    Wow - answer the gentleman's question and i get slammed - what does a kiwi living in the USA have to do with the subject. The UK protocols were published so that manufacturers of advanced wound care dressings could obtain registered medical device approvals to sell their products that save lives. Hence, there is now a standard for medical grade manuka honey. The protocol was not developed by pharmaceutical companies, it was developed by a small group of qualified scientists lead by Professor Rose Cooper out of the University of Cardif.
    Stu likes this.
  9. Gavin Gear

    Gavin Gear Drone

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    In reading all of the science published in significant medical journals that are peer reviewed, it is my understanding the difference between food grade and medical grade is the concern of certain elements in the honey that could cause issues if inserted into an open, already infected, wound. For example debris, or pollen. Then there is the issues of botulism. Thus the harvesting protocols and a set of standards to keep patients safe.

    I am much more concerned about the fraud in this industry - Manuka honey that is not. Activity that is mis-represented.
    Even the UMF standard is problematic in that it is unreliable. It is the consumer that is harmed most by all of this
    Here in the USA we have a supplier selling Active 16+ that has no activity as measured by the UMF test.

    Clearly this industry needs regulating, to protect the consumer from the rip-off cowboys.
    P K Tan, Grant, Beehavn and 1 other person like this.
  10. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Welcome to the forum Gavin. Sorry about the baptism of fire there. So do you know how the honey gets processed to removed the impurities? It seems oddd to want to process the honey as the article I've read (regarding eating it) suggest raw is better because the more its processed the less goodness there is? I can understand straining or something under a cold process.
  11. Gavin Gear

    Gavin Gear Drone

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    hi Grant: I think each manufacturer of medical grade has their own proprietory processes for this.
    "Raw is Better" is painting with too broad of a brush.
    Give "raw" to a child under the age of 2-3 yrs who have zero natural defense against botulism and you could kill the child, whereas an adult digestive system handles the botulism no problem. At least that is my understanding. Children's digestive system continue to develop subsequent to birth, for a period of about 18 months to 2 yrs.
    Eating the honey and placing it on a wound are also two different issues.
    Professor Rose Cooper recently issued a press release advising not to place grocery store bought manuka honey on wounds.
    Dr. OZ is a popular doctor on TV here in the USA. In December he had people on his show, demonstrating how to put food grade manuka honey on a wound or injury to the skin - SIMPLY STUPID advice, given the risk of a bad side effect - 99.9% of the time this is OK BUT......

    Aspirin is tree bark - but it is harvested and processed to a set of standards
    Manufacturers like me, have to produce products that significantly exceed safety - causing harm to a single person is not acceptable

    I live near the largest lettuce growing region in California - cow manure somehow got onto lettuce - people ate the lettuce and died - who is at fault?
    The cow, the cow cockey, the lettuce grower or the lettuce processor - here the lawyers sue everyone including the cows mother and the grocery store where the lettuce was purchased.

    So I make a case, that "RAW" is not necessarily a wise choice - what are you in fact getting?
  12. frazzledfozzle

    frazzledfozzle Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Gavin Beehavn has a way about him/her that takes some getting used too but I imagine has a heart of gold? :D
    phill-k likes this.
  13. tony

    tony Guard Bee

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    I will be entering this discussion with quite a few opinions because we actually produce medical manuka honey and pride ourself about it, but sorry don't have time at the mo to go into details
  14. Beehavn

    Beehavn Pupa

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    Can I ask what you believe RAW honey is? Is it honey that is not cooked? If so what basis do you use to determine when honey is cooked? When food is cooked the substance and structure of the food is changed by the heat applied to it. So is liquid honey RAW or cooked? Is granulated honey RAW or cooked? I have the answers but am interested in your opinion on this as presumeably this serious affects the potential medical and health issues about honey. We should also confine this to New Zealand honeys, with good reason.

    Also the regular references to botulism in various places where honey is concerned seems to infer all/most honey might be infected? How true is that? What are the statistics? Is it not in part a ploy used by manufacturers of 'other' sugars to steer customers away from natural sugars such as honey, by using scare tactics?
  15. Pbee

    Pbee Guard Bee Donor 2013

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    Welcome Gavin,
    do I get this right, you are a Kiwi living in the US?
  16. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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  17. tony

    tony Guard Bee

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    Hi wayne i agree with you what really are the risks what are the actual statistics, we seem to live in a world were by if one person dies from something food related ( which is very sad to those concerned) then the higher powers seem to be able to make a rule that we need to modify our foods to make it so called safe. Where do we draw the line, now i can understand if say 1 in 4 die something would more than likely need to be done 1 in a million every so many years im not so sure again very sad if you part of the family this happens to, but any death is sad and was that the underlying problem anyway. This whole process thing has happened with so many of our foods Milk probably one of the most important foods has been processed that much im not actually sure its really milk any more, that process came about in the late 1800's early 1900's i believe in new york but during that time cows where feed inferior foods living in pens in their own muck TB and other diseases where common, i think at the time infant mortality was high may have been as high as 50% so pasteurisation was born. now in this instance it was probably the right thing to do under the circumstances, until the problem was solved well it was it was called pasteurisation. I ask the question was the problem really solved?. But now with all we know the constant testing, better farming practices and so on, The question is, is it really necessary any more has the problem been solved??, and is the milk we drink now actually worse for us than the real deal is it causing more health issues than if we drank raw milk and we spend millons of dollars fixing these health issues??. I know ive gone off the topic of honey but is their a resemblance here? If america would just stop suing everyone including the cows mother we would probably get half way to solving some of these problems. By the way 12 years ago when we had our first child plunket did warn us of not feeding honey to infants not sure if they still do, I will talk more on medical manuka later on.

    My understanding of raw honey is any honey that has not exceeded 38-39 0c
  18. Aquila

    Aquila House Bee

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    Raw can also mean unprocessed (eg;Not creamed). Raw doesn't have to have anything to do with cooking, more the raw product is as it comes out of the hive.
  19. frazzledfozzle

    frazzledfozzle Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    My understanding is the same as tony's raw honey is honey that has not exceeded 38-39c in processing.

    you can have unprocessed honey that has been heated over this temperature which would make it unprocessed honey but not raw honey.

    Thats just my understanding I could be completely wrong :)
  20. Beehavn

    Beehavn Pupa

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    RAW has to mean uncooked. It is a term used for all foods that have not had their substance (structure) modified by heat over and above their natural state - the process of cooking. For honey that would be the internal hive/bee temperature (38-39C). Any food can be 'processed' and still be RAW if temperatures during processing were the same or lower. However any process that changes the state of the food, or at least to a state than could not be reverted to the RAW/Natural state without further modification or addition of items normally contained, would mean the food item is no longer RAW.

    So lets look at honey: Straight off the hive during the late spring summer period it will be warm, at internal hive temperature. If extracted (which means it has undergone a process) it will be in liquid form and need straining to remove bits of wax capping. You could forget the straining and leave debris within it. Either way both the unstrained and the strained honey are still RAW. The debris of loose wax etc do not exist in the honey when it is within the cell on a bee comb. Bear in mind pollen particles are within the honey while it is in the cell. Pollen particles are still in the RAW (extracted) honey, be it strained or unstrained (I'm not talking about filtration when referring to straining).

    To aid straining, honey is best kept warm - hive temperature is adequate for this, so maintaining the hive temperature of the frames while extracting is often done by keeping the supers in a warm room. After the combs in the frames are uncapped the frames have the honey extracted by centrifugal force and this will start to cool it down. At this point the honey will have it's initial straining to remove lumps of cappings wax and then be stored in a honey tank where it will be settled. The settling allows the natural separation of wax etc which floats to the surface. Honey tanks use honey gates that allow the honey to be drained out of the bottom of the tank using gravity. Often the honey from the first settling tank is pumped into another elevated tank. The pumping changes neither the temperature or the substance of the honey. If the honey has cooled the pumping will be slower than if it had been kept warm. The line that honey is pumped along could be warmed (still at or under hive temperature) to improve pumping efficiency. In any case we still have RAW uncooked honey.

    Some producers dupe the public by inferring honey with wax debris in it is RAW whereas honey that doesn't may not be RAW. This is merely a marketing ploy and there is no deception, except by inference. That being 'don't buy honey that doesn't have wax debris in it or you might not (or are not) getting RAW honey'. Not true - none of it has been cooked!

    Now what about granulated honey? Many people think this is honey that has been adulterated, had something added to it, been changed somehow making it inferior. Not true. Why not? In NZ most of our RAW honeys crystalize naturally. Nothing else but moisture content and temperature cause this phenomenon. Honey that is ripe (ie. nectar reduced in moisture content to the point the bees cap it over) has a moisture content maybe between 12% and 16% (this is variable). Take the temperature of NZ RAW honey down to 59-61degFarenheit and the crystallization process will occur naturally. This can and does happen within honey combs still in beehives during our autumn and winter months. So it is 100% natural.

    Crystals can varying in size depending on the speed of the crystalization or the original nectar source of the honey. Some are nice and smooth and therefore textually nice on the palate. Others are coarse and feel less attractive on the tongue. The latter would not spread as well on your bread. Put either fine or coarsely granulated(crystallized) honey on a hot piece of toast and you will see the crystals 'melt' so returning the honey back to it's original liquid form. If not taken over 38-39degC it is still RAW honey.

    In an effort to control the crystallization process to get a nice palate pleasing texture granulation of honey must proceed as quickly as possible and be packed in retail containers before it becomes too stiff and thick to move at all (if to flow) through a honey packing machine or out a honey gate into the jar or container used for the retail pack. There are a combination of methods to aid temperature reducing - agitation or stirring, or cooling pipes combined with this. To control the size of the crystals, agitation also contributes, so does passing the honey through a gear pump (it simply agitates in a confined space and grinds up any crystals that are forming as the honey passes through the pump). Some pumps allow a bit of air to be mixed in during the process and this introduces a 'creaming' effect (a bit like turning ordinary cream into whippied cream - hence the term 'creamed honey'). The point of this is that all the processes mentioned so far have been done to RAW honey that is STILL RAW Honey. No cooking has been done in anyway whatsoever. Furthermore, nothing that forms a natural component of the RAW honey has been removed, nor has anything been added (except in the case of the 'creaming pump' where some air may have been combined with the crystals).

    OK what does this mean. Simply that if ANY of the honey resulting from any of the above process is put in a container and the temperature is then raised to 38-39degC (to the in hive temperature) it will melt the crystals and the honey will be back in it's very original state including the same pollen and enzyme content because there has been no cooking process involved. It is ALL still RAW honey.

    That is the fallacy of labelling packs of honey RAW, to infer other honey is no longer organically RAW.

    BUT, and it is a big but - some packed honey from wherever will have been honey stored in bulk honey drums that have granulated. These may have been stored in areas where the sun or big hot rooms need to be used to re-liquify the honey prior to processing for packing. In some instances the temperature of the honey will have been taken well over the original beehive temperature. That is a form of cooking and enzymes in the honey would be compromised. There's more in the larger commercial packing processing of honey that could be covered but the object of this article was to explain that even granulated (and creamed honey) can be RAW honey. That if warmed to no more than hive temperature the crystals can melt (or revert) to the honey's liquid form still with all the pollens and enzyme intact and uncompromised.

    Thus granulated honey can qualifies to be classed as RAW honey, never ever having been cooked, and never having had it's substance modified in any manner that prevents it reforming the natural liquid form with all it's natural health apsects intact. I have never seen a cooked food capable of doing this. Try reverting potato chips back to the original potato, or plum jam to the original plums That is impossible. But granulated RAW honey back into RAW honey. Easy, because it has always remained RAW.

    My only note on all this is that you need to know who by and how the honey was packed, be it claimed RAW and liquid, or simply a granulated retail pack of honey. The public need to understand the physical properties of the granulation process is not some chemical or high-tech cooking wizardry. RAW honey can be liquid or granulated and is simply uncooked honey, just like any other uncooked food it retains it's natural goodness. It will last longer than most other foodstuffs without the addition of preservatives or further processing - providing it has a low enough moisture content. The harder the granulated pack the lower the moisture content and the longer you will be able to keep it. New beekeepers will learn this in the course of their experience.

    My appologies to experienced beekeepers who 'know' all this and got bored reading it. On the other hand if you got his far, you will realise there are many other comments that could have been possible. Essentially this is about the low tech end of honey processing without the use of hot-rooms, major filtration processing and such. It is easy to produce fine granulated packs of honey within a very few days after extracting your honey crop, that are every bit the quality and rawness of what some other beekeeper might call RAW liquid honey for marketing purposes. Have a go at doing it with some of your NZ honey crop.
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