Demonstrating the safety of manuka honey UMF 20+in a human clinical trial with healthy individuals

Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(7):1023-8. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992777. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Honey is an established traditional medicine with a variety of putative nutritional and health effects, including antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic. The aim of the present study was to investigate the safety of consuming manuka honey, UMF 20+, on healthy individuals by establishing whether UMF 20+caused an allergic response (as measured by IgE levels), changed major commensal and beneficial microbial groups in the gut and/or affected levels of one of the most common advanced glycation endpoints, N-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML). The study had a randomised, double-blind cross-over design. A total of twenty healthy individuals aged 42-64 years were recruited. We tested two different honeys- a multiflora honey and UMF 20+, both produced by Comvita New Zealand Ltd (Te Puke, New Zealand). Multiflora honey or UMF 20+(20 g) was consumed daily for 4 weeks, with a 2-week 'washout' period in between. Blood samples were collected every week for each intervention period and used to measure total IgE levels in serum and advanced glycation endproducts - a consequence of methyglyoxal accumulation. Faecal samples were collected at the beginning and end of each 4-week period. DNA was extracted from faecal samples and the levels of a number of microbial groups in the gut, both beneficial and commensal, were analysed. Neither product changed the levels of IgE or CML or altered gut microbial profiles during the trial, confirming that UMF 20+is safe for healthy individuals to consume. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting that manuka honey is good for digestive health, we observed no beneficial effects on lower gut bacterial levels with either honey in this healthy population.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / blood*
  • Honey / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Leptospermum*
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Lysine / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Lysine