The sweet nectar of the bees is oh so delightful. Many of us use it as an everyday staple, as it is quite versatile and usually readily available in our pantries. Honey is made up of mainly fructose and glucose and the rest is water. This multifaceted food contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and more. Add some to a cup of tea to soothe your throat, turn your favorite sandwich into a gourmet masterpiece with a drizzle of infused honey, or add it to your favorite dessert as a natural sweetener. Not only does it have so many uses, but the benefits of honey also go beyond what many people may know.
“My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste.” Proverbs 24:13
History of Honey
It’s hard to truly say how long honey has been around since it is likely far before recordkeeping. However, cave paintings in Spain from 7000 BC depict the first people engaging in beekeeping. Evidence shows it was then used as a vehicle for other things or for use therapeutically. Then, around 2400 BC, the bee was used frequently in hieroglyphics and was often associated with royalty. Later on, the Romans would view it similarly, placing it on a very high pedestal. The Greeks were instrumental in viewing honey not only as a food but also for its medicinal properties. Bees and honey would continue to be an important staple in many cultures over the next several thousand years. Today, we continue to highlight the importance of bees, maybe now more than ever. And many people enjoy and use honey in their lives every single day.
Types of Honey
You may notice while browsing the aisle that there are different types of honey. The label on the bottle or jar of honey says a lot about it. For instance, raw honey has never been heated to more than 118 degrees keeping it in its original “from the hive” state. Pure honey has been briefly heated to 160 degrees to pasteurize it. Wildflower honey means it is from the nectar of various wildflower blooms. Clover honey means it is from the nectar of over 50% clover flowers. Lastly, manuka honey, which has many extraordinary benefits, is from the nectar of the rare Manuka tree in New Zealand. With varying kinds of honey comes varying tastes, textures, and benefits.
Benefits of Honey
What are some of the uses for honey that we have come to know and love over the many years? Keep reading for some unique ways to use honey, some of which may be new to you!
Honey for Lungs
Over-prescribing antibiotics has increased drug-resistant microbial infections. In this study, doctors reviewed 14 placebo-controlled upper respiratory tract trials, nine involving children only. All of them using honey as a treatment along with standard care or placebo. Honey improved cough frequency in eight studies, and cough severity in five studies, compared to usual care, the honey improved combined symptom scores in three studies, and performed better than placebo in two studies.
Discussing the findings, doctors say, “Honey was superior to usual care for upper respiratory tract infections and is a widely available, inexpensive alternative to antibiotics, helping efforts to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance”.
Honey for Hair, Skin, and Nails
The next benefit of honey is that it is a natural humectant. This means it retains and preserves moisture. As fate should have it, adequate moisture is one of the cornerstones of healthy hair, skin, and nails. When hair and nails specifically are provided with adequate moisture, breakage can hopefully be avoided.
An excellent way to incorporate these benefits into your self-care routine is to try using it as an exfoliator on the face, body, and/or lips. It will strip old, dead cells away from the skin, but without being harsh and removing vital hydration.
Since honey also has antibacterial properties, it makes a good natural cleanser for the skin. This is especially helpful for eliminating dirt from pores and for acne-prone skin, as both are associated with an excess of bacteria. Manuka honey and raw honey are especially well-known for their antibacterial, antiseptic properties, and antioxidant content that can help lead to glowing skin.
Honey for Scars and Wounds
Another benefit of honey is more than skin-deep. Honey has also been used to heal wounds for thousands of years. However, the science behind this has only come about recently. Honey has its own bioactivities occurring that can work in conjunction to aid in the biological process of healing. Applying honey to a recovering wound may be helpful in expediting the healing process because of its natural antibacterial activity, ability to keep the wound in a moist environment, and high viscosity which helps provide a protective barrier to prevent infection.
Raw honey contains a substantial amount of antioxidants including flavonoids and other polyphenols. Antioxidants work to scavenge and neutralize free radicals in the body. An excess of free radicals is a major contributor to chronic inflammation. When antioxidants can work to eliminate these free radicals, the hope is that we can experience less inflammation within our bodies and heal better.
When we suffer from a wound, our body should engage a healthy inflammatory response to engage the healing process. This could include redness, swelling, heat, and pain at the site of the wound. The antioxidant properties of honey can aid in the speedy and proper healing of wounds and assist the body’s natural inflammatory response.
Soothing Lemon Ginger Honey Recipe
Prep Time: 5 Mins | Cook Time: 5-6 Mins | Servings: About 24 teaspoons
- Zest of 2 organic lemons
- 1/4 c fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 c filtered water
- 1 c organic honey
- 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
- Combine lemon zest, ginger, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain through a fine sieve into a heat-proof cup. Rinse the saucepan and warm the honey, but do not boil.
- Add strained lemon ginger water and lemon juice. Stir until combined to form a thick syrup.
- Pour into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.
- Stir desired amount into hot tea, or hot water, or eat by the spoonful. Keep for up to 2 months.
Reference: National Institutes of Health – Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research