What Is Methylglyoxal in Honey?

What Is Methylglyoxal in Honey?

Since ancient times, honey has been used to treat a variety of diseases, thanks to its healing and health properties.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century, however, that scientists discovered unique yet powerful bacteria-killing properties in one variety of honey—the Mānuka honey.

Native to New Zealand, Mānuka honey has powerful healing properties and an anti-inflammatory action that can help ease pain and inflammation.

So, what makes Mānuka honey different?

Honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a compound responsible for its germ-killing abilities. In addition to hydrogen peroxide, Mānuka honey has high levels of another compound called methylglyoxal, which makes it more effective than other types of honey.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into methylglyoxal Mānuka and explain why this compound is important in honey. Let’s dive in!

What Is Methylglyoxal in Honey?

Methylglyoxal (MGO) is a unique, naturally occurring compound found in Mānuka honey that’s responsible for its unique properties that help fight germs.

MGO occurs naturally in many foods, plants, and animal cells and has germ-fighting properties. This compound is responsible for many of the health benefits that Mānuka honey offers!

Where Does Methylglyoxal Come From?

MGO comes from the conversion of another unique compound in Mānuka honey called DHA found in the nectar of Mānuka flowers.

A 2009 study revealed that MGO forms from a naturally occurring compound known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA) over time. DHA occurs naturally in the nectar of flowers of the Mānuka tree (Leptospermum Scoparium) and varies in potency from tree to tree.

The study found that freshly produced Mānuka honey methylglyoxal levels were low and that it contained high levels of DHA. But when the honey was stored or aged at 37oC, Mānuka honey methylglyoxal level increased with time.

In a nutshell, MGO = DHA + Time

The high levels of DHA in fresh Mānuka honey can result in higher levels of MGO if aged properly, and therefore high germ-fighting properties.

How Powerful is Mānuka Honey?

As mentioned earlier, the higher the concentration of Mānuka methylglyoxal, the stronger the germ-killing effect.


Keep in mind that MGO is also present in other types of honey but only appears in very small quantities. To illustrate how strong methylglyoxal Mānuka honey is, it has 1000x more methylglyoxal than other varieties of honey.

Besides MGO, honey producers also measure the concentration of two other compounds—Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and Leptosperin, a naturally occurring compound found only in Mānuka nectar.

Why Is Methylglyoxal (MGO) in Honey Important?

From treating wounds to soothing skin irritation and even improving digestion symptoms, the MGO content of Mānuka honey has been scientifically proven to offer many health benefits. Here are the top benefits of MGO in honey.

  • Promotes Wound Healing

    The germ-fighting and overall health properties of Mānuka honey have been shown to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration. Researchers have associated this with the presence of methylglyoxal in Mānuka honey.

    In one study investigating the effect of applying Mānuka honey on dressing wounds, 88% of those who used Mānuka honey saw a decrease in wound size. In another study, the use of Mānuka honey decreased stiffness and scarring pain.

    • Improves Digestive Symptoms

      Researchers have discovered that consuming Mānuka honey can help improve digestive symptoms, especially those associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

      In one study, Mānuka honey was tested on both IBS and ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. The result? Mānuka honey attacked the cells of strains of Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. Diff.

      C. Diff is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and inflammation of the bowel. Mānuka honey killed the C. Diff cells, making it an effective aid for irritable bowel syndrome and related conditions of the digestive tract.

      The success of Mānuka honey in attacking gut bacteria is due to the potent bacteria-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties of MGO.

      • Treats Acne and Other Skin Diseases

        A growing body of evidence shows that Mānuka honey can be applied to improve skin health. One study found Mānuka honey as an effective form of fighting eczema, with lesions significantly improved post-Mānuka honey use.

        Raw honey balances the bacteria on your skin, making it an effective product in treating acne. Plus, honey is also a natural exfoliator, which means applying it to your face can potentially remove the dry skin and reveal the new skin cells underneath.

        What’s more, Mānuka honey can make scars less visible. Since Mānuka honey is rich in hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal, it can help lighten hyperpigmentation and scars.

        • Good for Oral Health

          No one wants plague, tooth decay, or gum inflammation.

          Usually, sugary things are bad for our teeth. Interestingly, Mānuka honey has been shown to improve our oral health.

          Studies show that the bacteria-fighting properties of MGO in Mānuka honey can inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria. Specifically, research has shown that Mānuka honey can stifle the growth of harmful oral bacteria like P. gingivalis.

          • Soothes Sore Throat

            Honey of all types (Mānuka honey included) is a well-known natural remedy for coughs and sore throats. When consumed, it forms a soothing film over the throat, reducing irritation.

            Mānuka honey, in particular, has been shown to provide some relief from sore throat.

            Its powerful germ-killing properties can reduce inflammation and attack the bacteria that cause soreness and pain. Not only does Mānuka honey fight harmful bacteria, but it also coats the inner lining of the throat for a soothing effect.

            Wrapping Up

            To answer the question of “What is methylglyoxal in honey?”. Methylglyoxal or MGO is a naturally occurring compound that’s responsible for the potent germ-killing properties in Mānuka honey.

            The MGO content in honey has been proven to deliver many benefits, including wound healing, improving digestive symptoms, and treating skin conditions which First Honey Mānuka Honey Cream is great for. All First Honey products are tested and proven, so you can rest assured you’re getting top, medical-grade honey.

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