Delicious, sweet, and obviously a great natural alternative for sugar in drinks and cooking, honey provides more than meets the eye, according to in-depth research on the bee-made sweetener. Honey has a long history of being used to treat various health conditions and contribute to general wellness. Like apple cider vinegar, which is often suggested to be used in tandem with honey, it can help alleviate many common symptoms. From numerous studies and many years of use, it has been shown that honey serves as an effective antibacterial, antiallergenic, antiseptic, antioxidant, and antifungal agent. These powerful attributes make honey one of the best foods to consume regularly to maintain your health.
A Few Sweet Benefits of Honey
While it is not 100 percent proven that allergy symptoms can be fought by raw, local honey, it has worked for many people (myself included) to acclimate oneself to a new region – particularly one with a high content of allergens. Typically, it is recommended to start eating a region’s local honey several weeks before you visit to avoid a flare-up of allergies, as it gets your body used to the pollens of the area. Or, you can eat your own region’s native honey to combat seasonal allergy symptoms. One study showed that using local honey lowered symptoms for birch pollen allergy sufferers by 60 percent.
Healing Wounds and Killing Bacteria
Honey is known for its antibacterial properties and has helped people throughout the ages by fighting infection. A study published in Microbiology discovered that honey stopped a kind of streptococcus pyogenes from causing wounds not to heal. In lab tests, researchers found that even the smallest quantity of honey was sufficient to eliminate most of the bacterial cells on the skin infecting the wounded area. Furthermore, honey could even be used to prevent wounds.
More research has indicated that honey could be considered a more successful treatment than antibiotics in many instances, once the effects of honey were seen fighting skin infections. Honey can target bacteria on skin injuries like cuts and scrapes and kill them before an infection starts, so long as it is the right type of honey. Honey dressings for cuts and wounds contain naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide among other enzymes to speed up the healing process.
Remedying Coughs and Colds
The great superfood that is honey is already widely accepted as a treatment for cough and cold symptoms, as it provides a smooth coating for a sore throat and simultaneously fights infection. When using raw honey, which includes all the most beneficial elements such as royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen, you get bacteria and virus-slaying powers of various nutrients and enzymes. Raw honey and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (or all of the above) is a great combination for relieving a sore throat.
A study released last year in Pediatrics showed that honey worked better than a placebo for treating coughs and maintaining sleep in children. According to WebMD, another study discovered that honey was more effective than typical cough medicines like dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine in keeping nighttime coughs to a minimum and sleeping better. However, all doctors (and labels on honey jars) warn against giving honey to infants and children under 12 months old because of the possibility that it could contain botulism toxin.
Treating Insect Bites and Skin Problems
As a natural anti-inflammatory, honey acts as a great option for reducing the itch from mosquito and other insect bites. Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be help to treat the condition Acne vulgaris, specifically with Manuka and Kanuka types of honey. This type of acne results in infection and swelling of follicles on the back, chest and face.
Increasing Immune Function
With its abundance of powerful antioxidants, polyphenols, consuming honey helps protect your cells from free radical damage. Polyphenols have also been known to increase cardiovascular health and potentially reduce a person’s risk of cancer.
According to one study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, giving male mice honey instead of sugar in processed foods improved the intestinal microflora. This leads some to believe honey can be an effective digestive aid.
1. Natural Society. Health Benefits of Honey – Nature’s Powerful Superfood.
2. Huffington Post. Honey Health: How the Sweet Stuff Keeps You Well.
3. Image: Studio-Akira.com