Raw Honey: The Golden Elixir
Honey is one of the oldest food sources we know. Honey is man’s oldest sweetener and a very valuable and delicious food source which is not sufficiently appreciated today. The use of honey as medicine is mentioned in the most ancient written records. Apiculture, the practice of beekeeping to produce honey, dates back to at least 700 BC. But science has been rather slow to confirm what we have all been observing for countless years. Today, scientists and doctors are rediscovering the effectiveness of honey as a food source and as a medicinal treatment. Honey is nature’s source of energy, a natural immune booster and a medicine with many healing qualities. Although honey is available throughout the year, it is an exceptional treat in the summer and fall when it has just been harvested and is at its freshest.
Honey comes in a range of colors including white, amber, red, brown and almost black. Its flavor and texture vary with the type of flower nectar from which it was made. While the most commonly available honey is made from clover, alfalfa, heather and acacia flowers, honey can be made from a variety of different flowers, including thyme and lavender. Honey contains up to 30 different kinds of sugar like fructose and dextrose and nearly 200 recorded substances. For instance, Honey contains amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B5 and vitamin C , minerals like phosphorous, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iodine and zinc as well as antioxidants and antibacterial ingredients (all of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen). It’s also your body’s source of natural hydrogen peroxide.
Honey Lasts Forever
If honey is correctly stored it does not spoil. This is perhaps one of the greatest properties of honey. In fact, edible honey was found in ancient Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut’s tomb. It is important to keep honey stored in an airtight container so that it doesn’t absorb moisture from the air. Honey stored this way in a cool dry place will stay the same almost indefinitely. One reason for this is that its high sugar content and acidic pH help to inhibit microorganism growth.
Honey that is kept at colder temperatures tends to thicken, while honey that is kept at higher temperatures has a tendency to darken and have an altered flavor. Crystallization has no influence on honey quality. It is part of a natural process. Some kinds like clover honey crystallize immediately after harvest. Others like fir honey, crystallize after years. It depends on different proportion of fructose and dextrose. Is the part of dextrose higher, the honey crystallizes faster and firmer. If your honey has crystallized, placing the container in hot water for 15 minutes will help return it to its liquid state. Do not heat honey in the microwave as this alters its taste by increasing its hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content. To prevent honey from sticking to measuring cups and spoons, use honey that is in its liquid form.
Most of you are familiar with the culinary and cosmetic benefits of honey. It is an excellent substitute for sugar in our drinks and food. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you need to use less, one-half to three-quarters of a cup for each cup of sugar. For each cup of sugar replaced, you should also reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-quarter of a cup. In addition, reduce the cooking temperature by 25ºF since honey causes foods to brown more easily. Also, honey can be used as a preservative.
Manufacturers have used honey in everything from hand lotions and moisturizers to bar soaps and bubble baths. Honey can also serve as a skin healer.
Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture.
This makes honey a natural fit in a variety of moisturizing products including cleansers, creams, shampoos and conditioners. A cream with Bee Propolis, a component in raw honey, has natural antibacterial, antiseptic and healing properties. Bee Propolis creams and ointments have many health benefits and even shows great results in treating Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and conditions such as Hepatitis, Canker sores, Yeast infections, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Genital warts, Genital herpes, and epididymitis.
Taking Honey Bee Propolis in form of capsules, tincture or tablets is advised, since Bee propolis is a scientifically proven immune modulating substance.
Propolis cream, also named Propolis ointment, treats imperfect, irritated skin and is extremely effective in treatment of inflamed, painful acne and inflamed boils. Bee Propolis cream will not only suppress the harmful bacteria in the hair follicle, prevent the breeding of pimple, acne, papule etc., but will also regulate the metabolic function of the skin, make your skin bright, clean and smooth.
Bee Propolis is an antiseptic that reduces the symptoms of inflammation and prevents bacterial infections and so offers many beneficial effects on the skin.
One way is to apply it on the skin (topical use), but it is also highly recommended to include Honey Bee Propolis in your diet as a dietary supplement. Propolis will help your body fight viral, fungal and bacterial invaders and treat your skin from within. Remember that acne needs to be treated from the inside.
Royal Jelly has a very beneficial effect on the skin and is a well-known remedy for home acne treatment, also recommended by Dr. Gillian McKeith in her best-seller book You Are What You Eat. Both
Honey Bee Propolis and Royal Jelly are natural antibiotics, but do not come with the side effects that antibiotics are otherwise known to have.
Antibiotics kill the bacteria in our body, but with that they also destroy the beneficial bacteria that our body requires to be healthy. Honey Bee Propolis, Pollen and Royal Jelly raise the body’s own natural resistance to bacteria and other invaders that attack out system and also provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Sweet Results: Improve Athletic Performance with Raw Honey
The benefits of honey go beyond its great taste and beautifying qualities. It is a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide heat and energy to our bodies. Honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue of athletes. Its natural fruit sugars play an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise. The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy. It is known that honey has also been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar. While cane-sugar and starches must undergo a process of inversion during digestion, it is already accomplished in honey because it has been predigested by the bees, inverted and concentrated. This saves the stomach additional labor. For a healthy human body which is capable of digesting sugar, the fact that honey is an already a predigested sugar has less importance. But in a case of weak digestion, especially in those who lack invertase and amylase and depend on monosaccarides, it is a different matter and deserves consideration.
Next time before you go for a workout, take a spoon of honey to enable you to go for the extra mile. If you are feeling low and lethargic in the morning, instead of reaching out for a carbonated energy drink, try honey. Spread it on hot toast or replace the sugar in your tea with it for a refreshing surge of energy. When you get a hangover from drinking too much alcohol, combat its effects by applying honey remedy. Honey is gentle on the stomach and contains a mix of natural sugars such fructose which is known to speed up the oxidation of alcohol by the liver, acting as a ‘sobering’ agent.
Anti-microbial, Antiseptic, Antioxidant, Antibiotic… Basically a Natural Anti-Anything that damages the body. Honey is an effective Immune System Booster without any Side-effects.
In addition to its reputation as Nature’s nutritious sweetener, research also indicates that honey’s unique composition makes it useful as an immune booster, antimicrobial agent and antioxidant. Nutritionists at the University of California, Davis found that antioxidant levels go up after people eat several tablespoons of honey a day. With honey consumption, we increase our body’s defense system against oxidative stress. Honey contains many antioxidants found in green leafy vegetables like spinach (Just don’t think you can get away with substituting honey for vegetables in your diet ). Studies suggest that honey might be as good at fighting heart disease as some fruits and vegetables because of its high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants, which help prevent narrowing of the arteries, are as common in honey as in spinach. Honey also has as wide a range of antioxidants as apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries.
Dr. Peter Molan, Professor of Biochemisty at Waikato University in New Zealand has been researching honey for over 20 years. He heads the university’s Honey Research Unit, which is internationally recognized for its expertise in the antimicrobial properties of honey. Clinical observations and experimental studies have established that honey has effective antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It painlessly removes pus, scabs and dead tissue from wounds and stimulates new tissue growth. Randomized trials have shown that honey is more effective in controlling infection in burn wounds than silver sulphadiazine, the antibacterial ointment most widely used on burns in hospitals. The remarkable ability of honey to reduce inflammation and mop up free radicals should halt the progress of the skin damage like it does in burns, as well as protecting from infection setting in. Honey’s antimicrobial qualities are partly due to its relatively low water content and acidity. Yes, honey is acidic. Fortunately the majority of varieties don’t taste acidic. It has a direct nutritious effect as well as drawing lymph out to the cells by osmosis. The stimulation of healing may also be due to the acidity of honey. The osmosis creates a solution of honey in contact with the wound surface which prevents the dressing sticking, so there is no pain or tissue damage when dressings are changed. There is much anecdotal evidence to support its use, and randomized controlled clinical trials that have shown that honey is more effective than silver sulfadiazine and polyurethane film dressings (OpSite®) for the treatment of burns. Nutraceuticals are also found in honey. These important nutrients provide health benefits beyond those involved in normal metabolic activity to assist in neutralizing the free radical activity in your body, and are vitally important for overall function of your immune system. And raw honey, a potent anti-infection/anti-inflammatory bee product, is a natural option to antibiotics. Also, unlike other topical antiseptics, honey causes no tissue damage. Coughing is the reason for nearly three percent of all outpatient visits in the United States, more than any other symptom. It is particularly bothersome at night because it disrupts sleep. Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on OTC cough and cold medications despite little evidence that these drugs provide significant relief.
Treat Sore Throats and Colds with Raw Honey
Recently, the safety and effectiveness of children’s cough medicines have been questioned. What can parents do to help their children deal with a troublesome cough? Honey has been used as a home remedy for centuries to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a common cold. Time is the most important healer of sore throats caused by viruses, but for relief of the irritating symptoms, try a spoonful of honey to soothe and coat your throat. Take a spoonful straight, as often as you need, to relieve the irritation. In between, keep up your liquids with a steaming cup of tea sweetened with honey. For added vitamin C, try mixing in orange, grapefruit or lemon juice. Honey is nature’s cough medicine. That’s correct. Put that Robitussin down and eat some raw honey. A new study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that honey may offer parents an effective and safe alternative. The study found that a small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan(DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications. Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection than DM or no treatment. Honey also showed a positive effect on the sleep quality of both the coughing child and the child’s parents. DM was not significantly better at alleviating symptoms than no treatment. These findings are especially notable since an FDA advisory board recently recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines not be given to children less than 6 years old because of their lack of effectiveness and potential for side effects. In a previous study published in 2004, Paul and colleagues showed that neither DM nor diphenhydramine, another common component of cold medications, performed better than a placebo at reducing nighttime cough or improving sleep quality. However, honey has been used for centuries in some cultures to treat upper respiratory infection symptoms like cough, and is considered to be safe for children over 12 months old. Honey has well-established antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, which could explain its contributions to wound healing. Honey also soothes on contact, which may help explain its effect on cough as suggested by the World Health Organization. Additional studies should certainly be considered, but we hope that medical professionals will consider the positive potential of honey as a treatment given the lack of proven efficacy, expense, and potential for adverse effects associated with the use of DM.
Treat Pollen Allergies with Raw Honey
During spring (May-June), bees flit from flower to flower and collect nectar, inadvertently collecting pollen from the flowers they’ve visited along the way. The honey that they produce will therefore contain some of these pollen and depending on how the honey is processed after collection, eating this pollen-containing honey will help build a person’s resistance. Commercially produced honey most likely will not contain pollen as they are filtered prior to bottling. Honey from small local producers are your best bet. The honey must be locally produced, so that the honey will contain pollen that are common in your area, and are therefore those which you’ll have to build your resistance to.
Treat Cancer with Raw Honey
According to findings, a range of honey-bee products may be useful in the control of tumor growth: Honey, Royal jelly (produced in the salivary glands of worker bees), Bee venom, Propolis (a resin-like substance used in the construction of honeycombs). Though it is still unclear how honey-bee products affect human cancer cells, researchers suggest they may cause cell suicide, which helps the immune system fight the development of tumors. Studies have indicated that such products have helped combat dental plaque and Lyme disease. Bee products like propolis and royal jelly can be very powerful natural healing adjuncts if used wisely and properly. Bee venom has some incredibly potent neuroactive peptides that can also be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Weight Regulation with Raw Honey
For those of you that are concerned with weight gain from the consumption of honey, there’s no need to worry. Honey keeps the stomach full for a little longer, and quenches the urge for sweets. Studies suggest that honey isn’t a major factor in weight gain despite its sugar content. Honey does not have any fats or cholesterol. It does not contain any sodium either. You could actually live off a just-honey diet because it is considered to be the only kind of food that has all necessary substances to sustain a normal human life, though it is not recommended. In fact, Bee Pollen, a natural ingredient of raw honey, enhances the metabolism and is said to correct possible chemical imbalances, responsible for abnormal weight gain. Bee Pollen is also a natural Weight regulator. It will reduce excess body weight in people who are obese or overweight, and increase body weight in underweight people.
Some Weight Control benefits of Bee Pollen:
- It stimulates the metabolic system and speeds up the calorie burn.
- It contains high levels of lecithin which helps dissolve the fat in our body and flush it out.
- Because of high lecithin levels Bee Pollen effectively lowers the bad LDL cholesterol.
- Bee Pollen suppresses appetite, but is all natural and will not cause addiction like synthetic appetite suppressants which come with many possible side effects.
- Bee Pollen regulates and stimulates the metabolism by supplying the missing factors while neutralizing toxins.
As with many other foods, not all honey is the same
The main thing to remember when it comes to honey is that not all honey is created equal. The antibacterial activity in some honey is 100 times more powerful than in others. The health benefits of honey – like all foods – depend on the quality of the honey. But in this case, the situation is even more extreme, because the pollen that collects on the bees’ legs as they move from plant to plant is only as healthful and as diverse as those plants. Many people think that just because honey is “natural”, any kind of honey is healthful and fine to use. Unfortunately, most of the honey eaten today has been heavily processed. Like most foods that have been chemically refined, many of the healthful benefits have been reduced or eliminated. Processed, refined honey is not appropriate for use in wound care. In fact, your average domestic “Grade A” type honey found in the grocery store will likely increase infection. It also will not offer you the same health benefits as raw honey when consumed. Manuka honey is a specific type of honey that has actually been approved for use as a medicine – it’s that potent! But you could use raw honey to treat a mild burn, sunburn, or small wound at home if you don’t happen to have a jar of Manuka around. Clinical trials have found that Manuka honey from New Zealand, made with pollen gathered from the flowers of the Manuka bush (a medicinal plant), can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as: MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), MSSA (methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci), Helicobacter Pylori (which can cause stomach ulcers). With the increasing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections and drug over-use, the return to honey as a natural, multi-purpose healing therapy makes all the sense in the world.
Commercial honey is often treated with an excessive heating process that can destroy some of the critical natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, the processing of honey often removes many of the phytonutrients found in raw honey as it exists in the hive. Raw honey, for example, contains small amounts of the same resins found in propolis. Propolis, sometimes called “bee glue,” is actually a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other micro-organisms. bees will spread this substance around the honeycomb and seal cracks with the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal resins. The resins found in propolis only represent a small part of the phytonutrients found in propolis and honey, however. Other phytonutrients found both in honey and propolis have been shown to possess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties. These substances include caffeic acid, methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate. Researchers have discovered that these substances prevent colon cancer in animals by shutting down activity of two enzymes, phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C and lipoxygenase. When raw honey is extensively processed and heated, the benefits of these phytonutrients are largely eliminated. Both pollen and propolis contain super-abundant antioxidant compounds, which contribute to health-supportive properties. Raw, unprocessed organic honey contains little flecks of these nutrient-rich products, making it far superior to the clear filtered honey most of you are familiar with. How can you tell if honey has been heated? It’s simple… While some people prefer their honey sparkling and clear, the only way to achieve this is to heat the honey by processing.
Honey is sold in individual containers or in bulk. It is usually pasteurized, although oftentimes at farmer’s markets you can find raw honey. Raw honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified, or filtered – provided it is of the highest organic quality – is your best choice. Look for honey that states “100% pure.” While regular honey is translucent, creamy honey is usually opaque and is made by adding finely crystallized honey back into liquid honey. Specialty honey, made from the nectar of different flowers, such as thyme and lavender, are also available. Remember that the darker the color, the deeper the flavor. You might also look for darker-colored “honeydew” varieties produced by bees that collect the sugary secretions insects leave on plants, which is called honeydew. While all honey has impressive levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, a recent study of Spanish honey varieties shows that honeydew honey has even higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols than honey bees make from nectar. Remember that the quality of honey is a function of the plants and environment from which pollen, saps, nectars and resins were gathered. Other substances found in the environment – including traces of heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics – have been shown to appear in honey. The amount varies greatly.
Safety of Honey in Diet and Medicine
An important fact to remember is that unlike synthetic prescription drugs, there are no side-effects from consuming or using honey in its various applications. We don’t recommend going out and substituting fruits and vegetables with honey. But if you’re going to sweeten your tea with refined sugar or other artificial chemical sweeteners, or use it for cooking, perhaps you should add honey instead.
However, honey isn’t right for everyone. Babies younger than 12 months should not eat honey because they may not be able to digest it properly. Do not feed honey-containing products or use honey as a flavoring for infants under one year of age. Honey is safe for children older than 12 months and adults.
Royal jelly can cause a side effects for people who are allergic to bee stings, bee propolis or pollen. Side effects are only common in people who are allergic to bee stings, bee propolis, pollen or honey and are quite rare. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume Royal jelly or any other bee products. If you do not have any allergies, it is safe for you to take royal jelly, but you should always follow the instructions on the label, follow your body’s response to royal jelly and discuss your doctor about taking any supplements.
At present, people are turning to honey as medicine when nothing else works. But there are very good grounds for using honey as a therapeutic agent of first choice for many ailments. Researchers believe that the therapeutic potential of honey is grossly underutilized. It is widely available in most communities and although the mechanism of action of several of its properties remains obscure and needs further investigation, the time has now come for conventional medicine to look at this traditional remedy. With increasing interest in the use of alternative therapies and as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, honey may finally receive its due recognition as a healer. Honey is a most valuable food, which today is not sufficiently appreciated. Its frequent if not daily use is vitally important.