Honey has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. In this article we explore the health benefits of one of the oldest sweeteners known to man. Bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar to make honey. The nectar contains almost 600 compounds.
Honey is a sweet liquid made by bees using nectar from flowers. Bees first convert the nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation, then store it as a food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Honey is then be harvested from the hives for human consumption.
Consume honey sensibly and obtain numerous health benefits from this liquid gold. Honey can have the following positive effects*:
1. Alleviate Allergies
Many believe that honey can reduce seasonal allergy symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory effects. A common theory is that honey acts like a natural vaccine, although this isn’t backed up by clinical studies. Honey contains small quantities of pollen, to which the body will produce antibodies if exposed to it. After repeated exposure, these antibodies build up and the body should become accustomed to their presence so that less histamine is released, resulting in a lesser allergic response.
2. A Natural Energy Drink
At 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, honey is a great source of natural energy. The unprocessed sugars – fructose and glucose – give you an immediate energy boost by entering the bloodstream directly. This acts as an energy source for your workout thanks to the rise in blood sugar levels.
3. Improves Memory
The antioxidants in honey may help prevent cellular damage in the brain and therefore stop memory loss. The sweet nectar’s attribute of absorbing calcium helps brain health. Our brains need calcium to process information and make decisions.
4. Cough Suppressant
Honey is one of the best natural treatments for colds. According to a 2012 study (link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/08/01/peds.2011-3075) published in the journal Pediatrics a persistent cough can be cured with two teaspoons of honey. Children aged 1-5 who had night-time coughs, coughed less frequently after being given two teaspoons of honey half an hour before they slept.
The thick texture of the honey coats the throat and the sweet taste is believed to activate nerve endings that protect the throat from incessant coughing. Some have even gone as far to say it is as effective as the common treatment dextromethorphan.
5. Helps you Sleep
Honey can help you fall asleep. It causes an increase in insulin and serotonin which improves mood and happiness. The human body converts serotonin into melatonin, a chemical compound which controls the quality and length of sleep. Honey also contains several important amino acids often found in meat and poultry.
Honey targets dandruff which can relieve itchiness on the scalp. A study (link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11485891) published in the European Journal of Medical Research in 2001 found honey could help relieve itching. By applying honey diluted with warm water to the affected area and leaving it for 3 hours, patients had no more scaling within a week. Improvements in hair loss were shown and skin lesions also healed within two weeks.
Honey has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which allows it to treat seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff which are caused by an overgrowth of fungus.
7. Treating Burns and Wounds
Honey can be used to disinfect wounds and burns, and sores from major species of bacteria such as methicillin resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA). The British Journal of Surgery in 2005 found that every patient (except one) who suffered from various wounds and ulcers showed significant improvement after applying honey to the affected area.
Manuka honey in particular has antibacterial properties for healing wounds. The precursor for the active antibacterial agent methylglyoxal (MGO) comes from the nectar of mānuka trees.
We hope you find this post useful and find yourself eating honey perhaps a little more than usual. Aside from the health benefits – it always tastes great! Did we miss anything out? Please let us know how honey helps you and what your favourite types are below.
*Warning! Honey may contain botulinum endospores that cause infant botulism. This is a rare but serious food poisoning that can result in paralysis. Even pasteurized honey has a chance of containing these spores. Therefore, it is recommended that infants under 1 year do not consume honey.
This article contains general information regarding health and well-being. This information is not intended as advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to advice from medical or educational professionals.