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Customer story

Mānuka Health: Pioneering the power of New Zealand propolis

This article was published on May 21, 2020, 2:36 PM

Reading time: 5 minutes

A Kiwi natural health company that helped pinpoint the active compound in Mānuka honey has also, alongside Callaghan Innovation, spent the last decade investigating the protective properties of propolis - and the results are compelling.

What's in this article

    At a glance

    • After pioneering Mānuka honey research and product development, Mānuka Health turned their attention to researching propolis, another material made from bees.
    • A longstanding research partnership with Callaghan Innovation focused on the composition, bioactivity, processing and product formulation of propolis.
    • On the back of the research, Mānuka Health has a number of propolis patents, and has gone to market with a range of propolis products. 

    The company’s investment in R&D, and the work carried out with Callaghan Innovation, means the efficacy of our products is underpinned by science, something our customers really value.

    - Ben Boase, CEO, Mānuka Health

    First stop Mānuka honey, second stop propolis

    The benefits of Mānuka honey have been widely recognised and documented, helped significantly by pioneers in the field, Mānuka Health. 

    But a growing body of evidence has also been mounting for the power of propolis - another bee product that seals, protects and sterilises the beehive, essentially protecting the hive against invaders and infection. 

    Knowing this, and knowing the plan was to drive further product development based on ongoing research, Mānuka Health started their work developing propolis products.



    Proving propolis alongside Callaghan Innovation

    To support the R&D and help in the development of new products, Mānuka Health teamed up with scientists from Callaghan Innovation, seconding Chief Engineer Dr Owen Catchpole - an expert in supercritical extraction - into the business also.

    One of the main focuses of the research partnership has been investigating the protective properties of propolis. For Dr Catchpole especially, his broad remit included identifying the bioactives (or the active compounds with demonstrated health benefits) in propolis and developing an analysis method for quantifying these bioactives.

    Dr Owen Catchpole

    Dr Owen Catchpole

    From the research, early findings relating to the active compounds showed that there were high levels of caffeates and flavonoids in New Zealand propolis. Critically, Dr Catchpole’s research also showed it was the caffeates from the propolis - rather than the flavonoids - that showed the highest antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity.

    Given caffeate levels are high in New Zealand propolis, and not present at all in some internationally-sourced propolis, coming up with a scientific, replicable process for quantifying the level of active compounds in Mānuka Health’s new products became a key R&D focus.

    On the back of the analysis method developed by Callaghan Innovation, Mānuka Health can guarantee the level of active compounds in their propolis products.

    “Mānuka Health’s BIO30™ rating means, for instance, that their propolis capsules are guaranteed to contain 30mg of bioactive flavonoids and caffeates for every two capsules.” says Dr Catchpole. This is in contrast to other rating systems overseas that for example give the equivalent weight of raw propolis used, but that “raw propolis they’ve used could be very low quality and have minimal active components,” so it doesn’t provide any insight into whether there is any bioactivity in the capsule.

    Ben Boase Mānuka Health CEO says, “Mānuka Health’s BIO™ Propolis is a great example of the highly concentrated bioactives that come from New Zealand’s unique environment. Mānuka Health has worked in partnership with Callaghan Innovation to unlock the powerful bioactivity in New Zealand propolis for natural health benefits”.

    Since developing the analysis method to determine the propolis compounds, Callaghan Innovation has transferred the methodology to Mānuka Health’s in-house testing laboratory.

    World class products to take on the world

    Off the back of their R&D and product development with Callaghan Innovation, Mānuka

    Propolis gels

    Propolis gels

    Health has developed a range of dietary supplements for immune support and vision protection, as well as oral spray, lozenges and toothpastes. 

    As well, the company now holds 12 propolis patents in New Zealand and offshore relating to gastrointestinal anti-cancer bioactivity of BIO30™ compounds, skin anti-cancer bioactivity of BIO30™ propolis compounds, epithelial (skin and gastro-intestinal) anti-cancer activity of BIO30™ propolis complexes.

    Especially as consumers look to natural products to support their health and

    wellbeing, the global propolis market is an attractive one, reported to be worth upwards of US$600 million and growing.

    “Developing evidence-based products to meet the needs of our consumers has always been paramount to Mānuka Health,” says Mānuka Health CEO Ben Boase. “The company’s investment in R&D, and the work carried out with Callaghan Innovation, means the efficacy of our products is underpinned by science, something our customers really value.”

    “Callaghan Innovation are an important partner for us as we continue our R&D programme to understand more and more about the unique bioactive properties of bee products and how they can act as a natural health support for human wellbeing.”


    Manuka Health CEO Ben Boase

    Manuka Health CEO Ben Boase

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