Manuka honey is widely regarded as a superior type of honey from New Zealand with excellent medicinal properties. But, have you heard of its close cousin, Kanuka honey?
Like Manuka honey, Kanuka honey also comes from New Zealand. It is well-known for its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Kanuka honey is also finding great use in skin and health treatments due to the health benefits it promises.
So, how is Kanuka honey different from Manuka honey? Let us find out.
Important differences between Kanuka honey and Manuka honey
Both Manuka honey and Kanuka honey come from flowers of the tea-tree plants that grow in New Zealand. However, they are obtained from different varieties.
The Kanuka plant(Kunzea ericoides or kānuka) resembles the Manuka plant(Leptospermum scoparium or mānuka). However, on closer inspection, you will notice the differences between them. The Kanuka plant has round green leaves and clusters of white flowers. They lack the pink flush of Manuka flowers.
Since both types of honey come from trees of the same family, they have similar traits. However, they differ in taste and the way they act on the body.
The key ingredients of Manuka honey are methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone. They produce strong anti-microbial effects in the body. Certifying agencies have devised terms like MGO and UMF to indicate the potency of these ingredients in a sample of Manuka honey. Higher these numbers, better the sample of Manuka honey.
Interestingly, Kanuka honey does not have significant amounts of MGO or DHA. Its medicinal properties are due to its higher hydrogen peroxide activity levels. Kanuka honey also contains AGP or arabinogalactan protein that stimulates the immune system. It improves resistance to infections and aids in faster recovery.
You will also notice stark differences in the taste and texture of either type of honey. Manuka honey is creamy with a rich earthy flavor. Meanwhile, Kanuka honey is light and silky with a floral flavor.
Which is better—Manuka or Kanuka honey?
There are a lot of studies on Manuka honey. Research on Kanuka honey is lacking in comparison. There is no official grading system to evaluate the efficacy of Kanuka honey or compare it against Manuka honey.
Nevertheless, the main factor to remember is that Manuka honey and Kanuka honey act in different ways. The MGO and DHA in Manuka honey will reduce bacterial growth in your body. Meanwhile, AGP in Kanuka honey stimulates the immune system and enables recovery from infections and illnesses.
You can use both kinds of honey to treat inflammation, skin infections, and various other health conditions. However, recent studies suggest that Kanuka honey has a better effect on inflammation than Manuka honey.
Now, if you compare the cost, higher grades of Manuka honey with good medicinal properties are very expensive. The higher cost is usually justified by the benefits it offers. Meanwhile, Kanuka honey is usually cheaper than Manuka honey.
So, the verdict?
Well, it depends on your personal preferences. Both types of honey have extraordinary medicinal value. If you prefer to invest in certified honey, Manuka honey is the clear winner. Kanuka honey qualifies when you are more concerned about cost than certification.