Honey is a blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties
Honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medications, to soothe cough and related sleeping difficulties
Unprocessed honey can help treat skin infections, helps wounds heal, and improves dandruff and itchy scalp
It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey
Choose raw, unfiltered honey for medicinal properties; most honey on the market is highly processed and may even contain additives like corn syrup
Honey has been valued as a natural sweetener long before sugar became widely available in the 16th century. Honey production flourished in ancient Greece and Sicily, for instance, while animals other than humans – bears, badgers, and more – have long raided honeybee hives, risking stings for the sweet reward.
Honey is truly a remarkable substance, made even more extraordinary by the process with which it is made. This blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is quite unlike any other sweetener on the planet.
And while honey is high in fructose, it has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you’re healthy). Before I delve into those, here’s a brief “lesson” on how honey is made…
Honey Makes Excellent Cough “Medicine”
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists honey as a demulcent, which is a substance that relieves irritation in your mouth or throat by forming a protective film. Research shows honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications, to soothe cough and related sleeping difficulties due to upper respiratory tract infections in children.
Honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the early 20th century, at which time its use slowly vanished with the advent of penicillin. Now the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity, as researchers are determining exactly how honey can help fight serious skin infections.
Honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidants activities that make it ideal for treating wounds. In the US, Derma Sciences uses Manuka honey for their Medihoney wound and burn dressings.
Manuka honey is made with pollen gathered from the flowers of the Manuka bush (a medicinal plant), and clinical trials have found this type of honey 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)
Compared to other types of honey, Manuka has an extra ingredient with antimicrobial qualities, called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). It is so called because no one has yet been able to discover the unique substance involved that gives it its extraordinary antibacterial activity.
Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but active Manuka honey contains “something else” that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.
That being said, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helped wounds and ulcers heal. In one study, 58 of 59 wounds showed “remarkable improvement following topical application of honey.”
Honey Improves Your Scalp
Honey diluted with a bit of warm water was shown to significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, which is a scalp condition that causes dandruff and itching. After applying the solution every other day for four weeks, “all of the patients responded markedly.” According to the researchers:
“Itching was relieved and scaling was disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks. In addition, patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss.”
A healthy, whole-food diet and proper sleep is the best recipe for boundless energy, but if you’re looking for a quick energy boost, such as before or after a workout, honey can suffice. This is particularly true for athletes looking for a “time-released fuel” to provide energy over a longer duration.