Before I get into talking about all of the wonderful benefits of honey, I want to make sure I’m specific about the kind of honey I’m advocating. To experience any real benefit from it, make sure that first and foremost it’s raw honey. Most of what you buy in a grocery store will have been heated to remove any “impurities” and to keep it from crystallizing which is supposedly more attractive to consumers. Heating raw honey destroys enzymes and basically turns it into a simple sugar without many nutritional or medicinal perks.
Honey labeling is barely regulated by the FDA and there is essentially no testing that takes place to verify what is on the label. When buying honey, seek out local beekeepers and ask them about their beekeeping practices. Ask them if they’re honey is raw, and how they deal with issues like varroa mites and small hive beetles. Some beekeepers use strong chemicals to fight these pests and traces of those chemicals will remain in the hive. Also, ask them if they ever feed their bees and if so, if they feed high fructose corn syrup. Feeding bees is sometimes necessary but not anytime close to harvesting the honey and I would avoid any honey that is produced by bees that are fed corn syrup of any sort.
Last but definitely not least; honey should never be given to an infant under 12 months old as this could cause rare but very serious infant botulism.
Ulcers and Digestive Problems
Raw honey has widely been reported to potentially prevent, cure or alleviate symptoms of a wide variety of health problems affecting the mucous membranes of the body including stomach ulcers, mouth and throat ulcers that result from radiation treatment for cancers of the head and neck and (read on) sinuses and sore throats due to colds or allergies. Bastyr Center for Natural Health reported a study finding that people receiving radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck were significantly less likely to suffer from ulcers when given 4 teaspoons of honey 15 minutes prior to treatment, 15 minutes after treatment and then again six hours later. These types of ulcers are the reason that many people quit their radiation treatment as it can make eating difficult or impossible.
Studies in New Zealand have shown that raw Manuka honey was effective in killing the bacterium Helicobacter pylori which is said to be the cause of most stomach ulcers. This is thought to be due to the antibacterial properties of the honey.
Wound and Burn Dressing
The pH of raw honey (between 3.2 and 4.5) along with antibacterial, antiseptic and many other properties make it a superior dressing for wounds and burns. Honey is excellent as a wound dressing as it cleans pus and dead tissue from infections, suppresses inflammation and stimulates growth of new tissue. It also shortens healing time and minimizes scarring.
Manuka honey is a honey from New Zealand that comes from the Manuka flower of the Tea Tree and has recently enjoyed much praise as a cure for and even prevention of Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This honey by itself and also in combination with antibiotics has undeniably saved lives that would not have otherwise been saved. That’s pretty awesome.
People suffering from seasonal allergies may find relief in a daily dose of raw local honey. Because honey is made from the nectar of plants and trees likely causing your symptoms, some say that it acts in a way that is similar to an allergy shot; exposing you to miniscule amounts of pollen and propolis that over time encourage your body to build a tolerance to the very plants and trees that are causing your symptoms.
For this purpose, make sure the honey is local and also ask the beekeeper about their filtering process. You’ll benefit more from a honey that is strained but not super filtered. That way you can get all of the bits of pollen, propolis and wax that you’re after. When it comes to filtering, less is more!
Colds, Sore Throat and Blocked Sinuses
Just about everyone knows that honey soothes a sore throat but did you know that a study from Penn State Medical College in 2007 showed that honey is more effective in treating coughs and sore throats than the leading over the counter remedies containing dextromethorphan? Next time you’re under the weather try honey first and see how it treats you.
Hangovers are said to be caused by the production of ethanal in the body. Honey replenishes sodium, potassium and fructose which aids in recovery. Fructose also acts as a sobering agent by speeding the oxidation of alcohol in the liver. So next time you’ve had one too many, take a tablespoon of honey.
I’m not writing about anything new here. Throughout ancient history you will find that pretty much all cultures and religions documented the importance of honey in healing countless physical, mental and spiritual ailments. So what better way to start your day than with a spoonful of this divine nectar?
Lindsay Williamson is a North Carolina beekeeper who is passionate about all-natural, chemical free beekeeping. Her emphasis is on having healthy bees and she harvest delicious, raw, strained or natural comb honey only when the bees have a surplus. For information about purchasing honey email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.