But that doesn’t mean I have to miss out on reaping the many benefits of raw honey. In fact, humans have been enamored with honey for thousands of years.
The Old Testament refers to the land of Israel as the “land flowing with milk and honey.”
John the Baptist survived on locusts and honey. I’ll pass on the locusts.
And the Qur’an mentions that honey is “healing for humankind.”
I used to get sick all the time. Frustrating. There’s too much to do to be sick and ailing.
This newfound health is being attributed to my homemade DIY elderberry syrup and daily intake of organic, raw honey. Liquid gold to be taken internally and used externally, too.
Today’s post is sweet because we are talking about why honey is the bee’s knees for health and wellness.
So I never say no when my kids want a little extra honey drizzled on their Cheerios.
Here’s why you might want to add a teaspoon or two of honey to your coffee or tea each morning!
The medicinal properties of honey
Antibacterial property – Did you know that pure honey contains the enzyme glucose oxidase, which causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic?
Research indicates this is one of the main reasons honey seems to have such powerful antibacterial and wound healing capabilities. Honey for wounds. Hear. Hear.
Antioxidant property – Darker honey contains more antioxidant power than light colored honey, but in a pinch, both work.
Antioxidants fight free radicals and encourage new tissue growth. Not only healing damaged tissue quicker but also helping skin to appear younger and more vibrant.
Hygroscopic property – Honey has very low water content in its natural state, but does absorb moisture when exposed to the air.
This hygroscopic property makes it excellent for dry skin by allowing it to better retain moisture.
It also helps to speed up wound healing time!
Why raw honey is the key to it all
Raw honey is the creme de la creme of honey because it’s in its purest state. Unfortunately, according to the National Honey Board, there is no exact definition of raw honey.
A label that indicates “untreated” or “unpasteurized” may be a good start, but no guarantee that it’s raw.
Never be fooled with words like “natural” or “pure” as they mean nothing in the world of honey processing.
Many beekeepers insist that honey is only raw if it has not been heated above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Once processing heat exceeds that 105 Fahrenheit mark, the consistency of raw honey changes along with the taste.
Raw honey is smooth and creamy, can be found in liquid form, and has no aftertastes. Highly processed honey has a somewhat smoky aftertaste. Agree?
Raw honey is obtained by extraction, settling or straining, and contains both pollen and small wax particles.
This purest form of honey is alkalinizing and does not ferment in the stomach. It also contains amylase, an enzyme that helps real down foods containing starch.
Worried about crystallization?
To re-liquify, gently heat the honey jar in warm water until it becomes liquid again. It’s like magic!
Honey ~ it’s ancient history!
In fact, honey was the most popular ancient Egyptian healing remedy, and was mentioned over 500 times in 900 remedies. Whoa!
Honey for your skin
Here’s a few areas where honey can help as a safe, effective and valuable asset in keeping skin happy.
Seborrheic dermatitis – Common inflammatory condition that causes yellow and flaking skin, mostly in oily areas like the face, ear, nose and scalp. It’s known as “cradle cap” in babies.
In one case study, after a week, researchers found those using honey reduced itching and scaling. After two weeks, skin lesions healed completely and participants noted less hair loss.
No one had a relapse of flaking skin after using honey to treat this condition!
I’ve read to make a paste with 90% raw honey and 10% lukewarm water and apply to affected areas. Leave on for three hours and rinse off. Do this treatment every other day for one month.
Eczema – Eczema causes skin to be itchy and red. Eighty percent of the participants in a case study who mixed honey, olive oil and beeswax in a 1:1:1 ratio applied three times a day for two weeks showed significant improvement.
Eczema sufferers should also try adding local raw honey to their daily diets~ up to two tablespoons a day since eczema is thought to be an allergic condition.
Bedsores/pressure ulcers – To relieve a bedsore, consider applying a honey soaked gauze pad to the pressure ulcer wound and covering with a second semipermeable bandage to prevent leakage.
In a case study, two groups, each with pressure ulcers were studied, one received honey dressings, the other medicated dressings.
After five weeks, the group who received the honey dressings experienced four times the rate of healing as the other group which received the medicated dressings.
Surgical wounds – I’ve had two c-sections. Both got infected. Horrible. My incisions wouldn’t heal.
I wish I knew about honey then because studies have shown that honey can be effective in treating surgical wounds.
It’s attributed to its hydrogen peroxide-producing effect, and its antimicrobial and hygroscopic properties. Fresh honey should be used with each dressing change, at least once per day.
Raw honey can be applied to a Band-Aid, or onto a gauze pad, and applied directly to the site.
Burns – I burn myself frequently. Clumsy cook! Honey has proven to be a highly effective treatment for burns.
Long story short, in one case study patients with burns who were treated with honey healed much faster than those treated with medicated bandages.
And at the end of the day….it’s honey. It’s not going to cause any damage. So now I topically apply honey to my poor burned hands!
~Thomas Leo Ogren, “Allergy-Free Gardening”
Honey and your immune system
It could be foodborne like mine (shellfish) or peanuts. Or perhaps your allergies flare up via skin exposure (latex or poison ivy.)
Allergies symptoms can vary from minor irritations to life threatening illness.
In spring, my eyes get super itchy with whatever is blowing in the air. Never had allergies as a kid and suddenly developed them as an adult.
It’s tempting to take a pharmaceutical for relief. But the side effects are the worst. I just feel weird. Groggy and foggy and a tad bit anxious.
So a non-drug solution? I’m all in.
Locally produced honey is one of my favorite treatments for my seasonal allergies as it helps to create immunity to those specific allergens where I live.
Your local beekeeper is the best place to acquire good quality honey. My mom has a beekeeper living next door and that’s where we get ours!
Only by ingesting local honey will you help to create immunity to those specific allergens in your area.
Bees produce the honey by traveling around local plants and gathering local pollen.
Exactly what your eyes are reacting to when you have allergies. Allergic rhinitis (runny nose) is a super annoying condition, blowing your nose all day.
I put roughly 1-2 tablespoons of honey in my tea when I’m suffering a bout of allergic symptoms.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat. One family that I personally know is on their fourth round of antibiotics and the antibiotics are having zero positive effect. I also know this family doles out antibiotics like candy.
So when there’s infection in our family~ I try manuka honey both internally and externally and proceed from there.
The phenols in manuka honey inhibit bacterial growth and promote healing.
These antibiotics are not like the synthetic antibiotics that promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Famous for its antibacterial properties and, although generally used therapeutically, is completely safe and delicious to eat every day!
Honey and your respiratory system
Colds are often caused by a viral infection and can lead to a runny nose, cough, sore throat and laryngitis.
Lower respiratory infections involve the bronchial airway and the lungs.
For common cough and colds, honey can act as both an antimicrobial agent and a cough suppressant.
Before jumping to take a medicated syrup, try this first. Swallow 1 teaspoon of raw honey every 3-4 hours and see if it doesn’t give you some relief.
When my kids are suffering from a cough, I give them a spoonful of raw honey before bed to help suppress the cough and allow them to sleep.
A post-infectious cough is one that lasts for three to five weeks after a common cold or respiratory infection.
Yup. This is “that” cough. The one that keeps you up at night. That dry, itchy cough that tickles your throat and deprives you of sleep.
Neither antibiotics or steroids are all that effective in treating this annoying condition.
Try the honey! Even a tablespoon before bed or in a lemon infused tea. It really helps sooth that throat!
Honey and diabetes
I was doomed to fail with that sugary orange drink. Technically, I’m not a diabetic, but I’ve learned that my best strategy is to avoid most sugars and sweets when I can. My body doesn’t handle refined sugar well.
When I ingest too much refined sugar, I shake like a leaf, get sick to my stomach and have the most awful dreams at night.
So although honey is sweet, it does have a fairly low glycemic index.
The natural sugars in honey have a “slow-release” effect, which means it does not cause the sharp peak in blood sugar that other sweet substances (refined sugar) do.
The sugars in honey are therefore more slowly absorbed and metabolized. Despite its sweetness, honey will not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high or as fast as other high-sugar foods.
Honey helps me satisfy a bit of my sweet tooth without causing that awful spike in blood sugar. Moderation is key.
Honey versus table sugar
Table sugar is extracted from sugar cane (or sugar beets) and then processed. Bad. Bad. Bad. The proteins, nitrogen elements, and enzymes found in the natural sugar cane are destroyed.
Honey is a natural sweetener that when minimally processed is chock-full of antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Table sugar (sucrose) is made up of two sugar molecules (fructose and glucose) bound together.
Before table sugar can be used for energy, it must be broken down using an enzyme that will separate their molecules.
But when bees produce honey, they supply the enzyme, so we don’t have to use our own energy to break the bonds.
And table sugar is devoid of any vitamins or minerals, hence the term “empty calories.” Hello increased risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Gram for gram, honey is sweeter than sugar. So we can use less honey than table sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness.
Secret Code: Berry
A fact that will create buzz…
The breakdown of honey…
According to BeeSource, this is what the sugars in honey look like:
- Fructose: 38.2%
- Glucose: 31.3%
- Maltose: 7.1%
- Sucrose: 1.3%
- Water: 17.2%
- Higher sugars: 1.5%
- Ash: 0.2%
- Other/undetermined: 3.2%