New research on manuka honey has shed further light on what gives the honey its unique anti-bacterial properties.
One of the biggest producers of manuka honey, Watson & Son, working with Professor Peter Molan of Waikato University's honey research unit, commissioned research by a specialist laboratory in Singapore.
It revealed a special molecule in the honey that acts with a compound called methylglyoxal and other agents to augment the antibacterial activity.
The link with methylglyoxal and the antibacterial properties in some manuka honey was already known.
But Professor Molan, who identified this unique property, also maintained there were other factors at work.
And the synergy between the newly-discovered molecule and methylglyoxal confirms his theory.
Watson & Son chief executive Denis Watson says the discovery will enable more precise measurement of the agents responsible for the anti-microbial activity that makes manuka honey so effective at healing wounds.
The company is carrying out further work with the honey research unit at Waikato University to follow up the findings and provide the medical industry with a full scientific understanding of the antibacterial properties of manuka.