There’s a gold rush of sorts happening in Australia and New Zealand—liquid gold, that is. New Zealand’s manuka honey, known for its antioxidant properties as well as its steep price tag, has been one of the great superfood success stories of recent years. But the story of manuka has not been entirely sweet. Search “manuka” on any Kiwi or Aussie news site, and you’ll find stories of beehive thefts, corporate espionage, and trademark disputes over who gets to call which honey “manuka.”
And as with any good melodrama, there is always a dark horse to shake things up. Enter jarrah honey. Harvested from the jarrah tree, it is rarer and more costly to produce than manuka because it comes from a species of tree endemic only to the most pristine, remote stretches of Western Australia.
“It’s quite a unique honey compared to all other eucalypts,” says Dr. Rob Manning, PhD, a former researcher for Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Food who spent three decades studying Australian jarrah honey and comparing its benefits to New Zealand manuka. Once a cheap honey “prior to the discovery of its antimicrobial properties, it’s now $30 per kilogram because of the demand and limited quantities available.”
The benefits of jarrah are astounding and range from the cosmetic to the clinical: Studies show that when applied topically, its antioxidants support skin-cell turnover as well as collagen and elastin production; a couple of spoonfuls taken by mouth every day will keep away illness; it can be applied as an ointment to burns and scrapes; and it can even be used as an all-natural treatment for nasty infections like MRSA.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so if all of this sounds similar to manuka, consider this: Unlike manuka, where the active compound methylglyoxal contributes to manuka’s earthy, bitter taste, jarrah’s active compound is a naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide that has a 50 percent higher antimicrobial profile and does…