Ohhh, the sticky goodness of honey. Everything just tastes better with a little bit of honey doesn’t it? Not only does it taste good, but raw honey is packed with nutritional and therapeutic value. It has been used for centuries to treat countless ailments. Hippocrates himself wrote of this “liquid gold” and its medicinal effects.
Winnie the Pooh said it best when he proclaimed, “Eating honey is a very good thing to do.” This liquid gold has been a staple in my home for many, many years, and for good reason. The benefits of honey are seemingly endless.
Everywhere I have lived, I have sought out raw local sources of honey for use in my kitchen, as well as for other medicinal purposes. I am also beginning to do my own research on keeping bees — partially because I use so much honey and partially because I find it absolutely amazing that bees provide us with this wonderful gift. I want to watch them work up close and personal!
I am not alone in my awe of honey. Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans and Greeks all used honey for treating wounds and to heal conditions of the gut. Hippocrates himself used honey and vinegar for pain, honey and water for thirst, and honey mixed with water and other substances for fever.
Honey is truly a healing gift from nature and is rich in medicinal properties:
In its natural state, honey has a very low water content, but it absorbs moisture when exposed to air. This hygroscopic property makes honey highly beneficial to dry skin by allowing it to better retain moisture. It also helps to speed up wound-healing time.
One especially vital component in honey, glucose oxidase, is an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. Research indicates that this is one of the main reasons why honey seems to have such powerful antibacterial and wound-healing capabilities. The production of hydrogen peroxide is just one of the remarkable ways that honey helps to kill bacteria and heal wounds.
Although darker honey generally contains more antioxidant power than light colored, both are still a rich source of valuable antioxidants. Antioxidants go to work against free radicals and encourage new tissue growth.
How to use honey for healing
Here are some of my favorite ways to use honey for healing:
Millions of Americans suffer from allergies. Over-the-counter and prescription medications may un-stuff your sinuses but they will leave you feeling groggy and foggy. They also come with a wide range of side effects pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about. These include symptoms as simple as altered taste and smell to possibly more serious issues such as female infertility.
Ditch the pills! Instead, invest in local raw honey. When bees make the sweet stuff they wind up depositing a small amount of pollen in each batch. A spoonful or two a day of local raw honey can help desensitize your body to the allergens in your area.
Kiss coughs and colds away
Can’t kick that cough? A spoonful of sugar (well, make that honey) may really do the trick! Researchers found that when children ages two to 17 suffered from an upper-respiratory infection and were treated with either a dose of raw honey or the cough suppressant medication Dextromethorphan (DM), the children served the honey showed significant improvement over those treated with DM.
This is great news for parents since the FDA recently recommended that children under age 6 should not be treated with an over-the-counter cough and cold medications due to a possibility of harmful side-effects.
Note: Honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.
Natural burn remedy
Researchers at the University of Florida found that raw honey effectively treats wounds and burns more effectively than conventional medicines because of its innate aseptic qualities. Also, the glucose and fructose make-up naturally dry out the area and inhibit bacterial and fungal growth.
Diaper rash cream
A New Zealand study investigated using topical pharmaceutical-grade manuka honey in place of traditional barrier cream for the treatment of redness, itching and inflammation. Researchers found that symptoms were improved in a similar fashion to using a traditional barrier cream. To help prevent diaper rash, try adding equal parts of honey to your usual diaper cream and use daily.
Honey can effectively treat conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema, while coconut oil is great for relieving dry or irritated skin, as well as for reducing wrinkles. Combining them leads to super soft, clear, hydrated skin! Mix 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1 tablespoon raw honey in a small bowl with a spoon until it’s well combined.
Apply the mixture to your face and neck with your fingertips — gently, since sometimes honey can crystallize and be rough on your skin. Let it sink in for up to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Simple, easy and effective!
Relieve acid reflux
Raw honey coats the lining of the esophagus and provides relief to the burning caused by acid reflux. In a report posted in the British Medical Journal, researcher Mahantayya V. Math found relief from reflux when he ingested just 5 milliliters of honey.
Balance blood sugar
Although honey is sweet, it has 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 (like 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.
Dark circle remover
Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil and spread the mixture under the eyes. After about 20 minutes, wash the mixture off and follow up with a light layer of organic coconut oil. Repeat this treatment a few times a week to keep your skin looking great.
A very easy way to heal and prevent chapped lips can be made with honey. Mix one part of warm, recently-melted beeswax to three parts olive oil. Then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey to the mixture. Once the mixture has set, it’s ready to use.
Infections in the mouth
Oral infections are very common. In fact, infections that cause tooth decay are the second most common infectious conditions after the common cold. Bacteria and viruses can cause oral infections that impact the teeth, gums, palate, tongue, lips and the inside of the cheeks.
Researchers in India have found that manuka honey worked just as well as commercial mouthwash, and better than chewing gum with xylitol, for reducing plaque levels. They attribute this to its outstanding antibacterial qualities. Manuka honey, taken orally, can help reduce gingivitis and keep the mouth healthy and free from harmful bacteria.
Mixing some lemon juice with honey makes a natural antiseptic solution. The natural sugar in honey kills the microorganisms, while the lemon partners with it to prevent bacteria from taking over. The combination will also reduce the swelling associated with insect bites and decrease itchiness.
For best results, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into 2 tablespoons of raw honey and spread on the infected area. Allow the mixture to remain on the skin until the swelling goes down and you’ll notice a decrease in itchiness.
Natural sleep tonic
If you have problems sleeping, your stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline — are out of whack. Both natural sugar and salt help to prevent adrenaline spikes but it is best to use raw honey and sea salt. Just keep a little mixture of salted honey by your bedside and take a teaspoon if you find yourself waking up in the night.
Choose the best honey
The list of raw honey’s health benefits is long. However, Hippocrates’ “liquid gold” becomes little more than a sweet and potentially dangerous treat in the wrong hands.
After testing 60 jars of honey, a researcher from Texas A&M University found that most (77 percent of supermarket jars and 100 percent of drugstore jars) contained no pollen whatsoever. These pollen-free products had been ultra-filtered, which technically makes it not even real “honey” anymore. Always look for 100 percent real honey, with no added ingredients.
— Susan Patterson