The product underdevelopment is an apitherapy and complementary medicine, a cosmetic and a medical device. It fits into different regularity frameworks because of the natural attributes of the product.

The MGO story of manuka honey is difficult to swallow from a scientific perspective because of the following reason. Honey has a low water content so the form in which DHA (dihydroxyacetone) occurs in within the honey is a dimer and not a monomer. It is therefore highly unlikely that MGO originates from the DHA in the honey and this may be an artifact of the process used to isolate and analyse MGO to begin with. As soon as Manuka honey is diluted a number of chemical reactions start and any dimer form of DHA would be converted into the monomer giving it a chance to the rearrange into MGO. This does not explain the accumulation of MGO over time in Manuka honey.

However, there is an alternative explanation that is more likely. That is the observation outlined in the following paper

MGO origin in Manuka honey

Glyoxal polymer in pollen in Manuka honey

Figure 1: Polymeric glyoxal present in Manuka honey pollen

MGO origin

Figure 2: Photo-Fenton chemistry and pollen tube expansion through the breakdown of phenolics into CO2 and water generating MGO and DHA and polymeric glyoxal

The origin of the MGO is due to pollen germination within the Manuka honey. The hydroxyl radical system operating through photo-Fenton chemistry is responsible for the generation of water within the pollen and through the presence of water within the pollen along with CO2 the pollen tubes grow and this process is the origin of the increasing concentrations of MGO in Manuka honey and not the DHA in the nectar collected by the bees. 

There have been plenty of people adding DHA to Manuka honey to see if this would increase MGO content in the laboratory but the laboratory analysis has shown that DHA in the dehydrating environment of the honey (low water content) cannot convert to MGO because it is in a dimeric form.

The MGO story became a lot clearer when Manuka honey with high MGO content was shown to have low pollen counts as the pollen had generated the MGO in its breakdown through the photo-Fenton mediated mechanism. 

The discovery of the hydroxyl radical system was meet with much apprehension because radicals are bad for health so we have been informed. However, the new findings are revealing that radicals can enhance longevity.

Radical chemistry and longevity

Figure 3: Antioxidants and affects on longevity.

What is being discovered is that radicals are important in cellular processes such as phagocytosis and apoptosis. The removal of pathogens and the removal of old cells from an organism. This suggests that antioxidants may enhance cell senescence and aging because they block the free radicals involved in apoptosis and therefore prevent the completion of the normal cell turn over processes in biological organisms. Biology is constantly recycling things using high energy physics processes and this provides a way that biology removes damaged cells from the organism. If we stop apoptosis, then we stop the recycling, and this appears to result in aging.  

Biology is always full of paradoxes which makes doing the right thing in terms of health and wellbeing challenging. It is through clinical investigations that these hypothesis can be evaluated and explored with respect to human health and wellbeing.