There is something undeniably enchanting about honey; the product of flower nectar transformed by bees, as if by alchemy - but in fact through the far less poetic act of regurgitation, into a sweet, golden elixir. Honey has had lured humans since ancient times.
Aside from honey’s seductive colors and flavors, it has some super powers that add to it’s appeal. Honey has an unusual chemical composition, one which makes it keep indefinitely without spoiling. Honey pots in early Egyptian tomb excavations where found remarkably, perfectly preserved. Honey is uniquely low in moisture and extremely acidic, making it a forbidding environment for bacteria and microorganisms. Bees add an enzyme, glucose oxidase to it that creates hydrogen peroxide as a by product. According to the National Institute of Health, honey is hygroscopic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and has a remarkable debriding action.
Honey has been used for a millennia as a medical remedy. The smithsonian.com reports, the earliest recorded use of honey as a curative comes from Sumerian clay tablets, which convey that honey was used in 30 percent of prescriptions at the time. Ancient Egyptians used honey regularly to treat skin and eye problems; as did the Greeks, Romans, and a number of other cultures.
Along with being a favored gift to the gods, honey has been used to treat that which ails us. The following are honey’s best-known health benefits; whether confirmed by science or passed down through folk tradition, they prove honey to be as efficacious as it is delicious.
A 2007 study from Penn State College of Medicine that involved 139 children, found that honey out performed the cough suppressant, dextromethorphan (DM), in calming nighttime coughs in children an improving their sleep. However, do not give to children under one year of age. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of honey sooth and help heal a scratchy sore throat. A tea made of honey, fresh ginger, and lemon is a great boost for your immune system when suffering from a cold.
In numerous studies, honey has been found effective in treating wounds. A Norwegian study found honey killed strains of bacteria in wounds. Honey can be very effective in treating burns as well.
Potentially Prevents Low White Blood Cell Count
The Mayo Clinic notes that honey may be a promising and inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy. In one small trial, 40% of cancer patients who were known to be at risk of neutropenia (very low blood count) had no further episodes of the condition after taking two teaspoons daily of honey during chemotherapy. More research is needed, but the remedy could hold great potential.
May Relieve Seasonal Allergies
Many people swear by honey’s ability to lessen symptoms of seasonal allergies. Some experts say that unfiltered honey can contain traces of flower pollen, and exposure to small amounts of allergens work as a good treatment to combat reactions. They recommend honey harvested in your local areas. What a delicious remedy!
Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
In clinical studies, medical grade honey has been shown to kill food-borne illness pathogens, like E coli and salmonella, as well as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which are common in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
May Help Metabolize Alcohol
This one’s for you cocktail swillers. The NYU Longone Medical Center reveals that honey taken orally may increase the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol, thereby limiting intoxication more rapidly reducing alcohol blood levels. How about a round of Honey Shots to wrap up an evening of libations.
Makes a Great Workout Fuel
Many athletes rely on sugar-laden sports drinks and gels for carbohydrates to fuel their bodies before and during endurance events, and afterwards to help muscle recovery. At 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, honey makes an excellent source of all natural energy that is superior to other conventional sources since it comes with added nutrients. Try adding some honey to your bottle of water for an energy boost during work outs. Honey sticks could be used during endurance events, like soccer, baseball, football, marathon running, swimming, all types of sports where you may need a healthy source of energy.
Resolves Scalp Problems
In a study involving patients with chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, the participants were asked to apply honey diluted with 10 percent warm water to their problem areas and leave it on for three hours before rinsing with warm water. In all patients, itching was relieved and scaling disappeared within a week. Skin lesions were completely healed within two weeks, and patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss as well. And when applied weekly there after for six months patients showed no sign of relapse!
Rich In Antioxidants
High quality honey contains many important antioxidants. These include phenols, enzymes and compounds like flavonoids and organic acids. Scientists believe that it is the combination of these compounds that gives honey its antioxidant power. Antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks strokes and some types of cancer. They may also promote eye health.
Studies in both rats and humans have shown modest reductions in blood pressure from consuming honey. Studies have also shown honey seems to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. It found that it caused a 5.8 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol, and a 3.3 percent increase in HDL ( the “good cholesterol” ). It also caused wight loss of 1.3 percent, compared to sugar.
Honey May Be A Natural Probiotic
The probiotic bacteria of Lactobacillus Kunkeei was initially studied in relation to winemaking , because it was often found when a winemaking fermentation process became “stuck”. As such, the bacteria has been implicated among spoilage disasters in winemaking and grape juice processors.
Lactobacillus Kunkee was more recently found among honeybees. Prefectural University of Hiroshima has found this probiotic bacteria is not only used by honeybees, it is also contained in the honey bee pollen and royal Jelly produced in the hive. This also means that by eating raw honey, we may be consuming this probiotic bacteria as well.
Just as other probiotic bacteria do, these bacteria produce lactic acid and acetic acid - both of which assist in the correct pH of our intestinal tracts. These acids also set up an environment which helps prevent the growth of many types of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts.