A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of honey is the medicine it seems.
This liquid gold can be traced back 8,000 years to Stone Age drawings and has been used ever since as a food and medicine.
Honey has been used to heal wounds from the battlefield, cure stomach problems, and give Egyptian women their silky smooth skin.
It’s also pretty tasty and has a blend of sugar, enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids that sets it apart from all other sweeteners.
Not all Honeys are Honey!
Unbelievably, there are counterfeit honeys on the market.
A test carried out by Food Safety News found that most products on the shelves of US supermarkets labeled ‘honey’ weren’t actually honey.
What makes honey ‘honey’?
The presence of pollen.
The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission, and others have stated that, without pollen, there is no way to determine if honey comes from legitimate and safe sources.
The tests showed that pollen was missing in:
- 76% of samples bought at grocery stores such as Kroger, Metro Market, Stop & Shop
- 77% of honey bought in big box stores like Costco, Walmart & Target
- 100% of the honey from drugstores like Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy
- 100% of honey served in small individual portions from McDonald’s and KFC
According to those in the know, the only reason to filter out pollen is to hide the source of the honey, which is almost always China.
Chinese honey is usually poor quality, loaded with high fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, nasty chemicals, and antibiotics.
You might be wondering if there’s any real honey left!
There is, but only if you shop for raw, organic honey at farmers’ markets, co-ops and natural stores like Trader Joe’s, where the correct pollen levels were present in all samples tested.
Manuka – the Queen of Honeys
Scarlett Johansson credits Manuka honey as the secret behind her glowing skin and Elizabeth Jagger is a big fan too.
I’ve always wondered what made Manuka so special.
It turns out this particular honey is made by bees in New Zealand, using pollen from a native tree called the Manuka bush.
What Makes Manuka So Great?
Manuka possesses unique anti-microbial properties that make it superior to other honeys, including raw honey.
Studies have proven that an enzyme called methylglyoxal (MGO) is responsible for Manuka’s exceptional health properties, particularly as it contains up to 100 times more methylglyoxal than conventional honeys.
It’s a lot more pricey than your standard farmer’s market pot though, and you could be paying for fake honey here too. Only 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of genuine Manuka honey is made every year in New Zealand, yet three times that much is sold under the label ‘Manuka’ around the world.
Honey’s Amazing Health Benefits
You don’t have to buy Manuka honey to enjoy some of the healing powers of this food – just make sure it’s raw, organic, and unprocessed honey with no additives. And, the darker the honey the more antioxidants.
Let’s have a look at what this delicious sweetener can do for our health.
Soothe a Sore Throat & Irritating Cough
Honey is a great food to have on hand if you’re struck down with a cold or flu.
One study has shown that 2 teaspoons of honey is actually as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient in soothing coughing at night time.
The World Health Organization lists honey as a demulcent – a substance that forms a soothing film over your mouth and throat to relive pain and inflammation, meaning it will probably help that scratchy, sore throat you have from those coughing fits.
A Natural Energy Source
The National Honey Board recommends adding honey to your bottle of water for extra energy when working out. A spoonful before or after your workout should do the trick too.
A study at the United Arab Emirates University found that honey has dramatically beneficial effects in cancer treatment.
This leads researchers believe that Manuka honey could help inhibit the growth of a variety of cancer cells including colon cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer.
Honey may also be an inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy.
A small trial found that 40% of cancer patients who were at risk of low blood count suffered no further episodes after taking two teaspoons daily of honey during chemotherapy. The honey used was an Israeli one, made by bees fed medicinal herbs like ginseng, echinacea, and lemon balm.
Of course, much more research is needed relating to cancer and honey but it does point to the healing properties of honey.
Treat Stomach Ulcers
If you’ve felt the burning of a stomach ulcer, either at night or after eating, you’ll know that you’d do anything to make the pain stop.
The cure might be a lot sweeter than anything the doctor will give you – a spoon or two of natural, unprocessed honey.
An enzyme in raw honey, glucose oxidase, produces hydrogen peroxide, which kills harmful bacteria that cause ulcers, like Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria behind most ulcers.
Dr. David Williams recommends two tablespoons at night before bed, reducing to one spoon when symptoms ease.
A spoonful of honey mixed with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water is a great way to get natural relief from heartburn.
Reduce Seasonal Allergies
This is one of the more contested benefits of honey, but there is so much anecdotal information out there claiming honey works wonders for seasonal allergies, that I had to include it.
A study on birch pollen found that patients using birch pollen honey experienced a 60% reduction in symptoms, twice as many days without symptoms, and could cut their use of antihistamines in half.
The trick here is to eat locally produced honey (forget Manuka!) as this contains pollen spores picked up by the bees from local plants.
This introduces a small amount of the allergen to your system, which should activate your immune system to fight it and build up your natural immunity – pretty much like a vaccine works against bacteria and viruses!
Even if it doesn’t work, it’s still tasty and protects against other illnesses.
Stop Memory Decline
Honey may help your brain stay healthy and focused and improve memory naturally.
A daily spoonful of Malaysian honey was found to boost immediate memory in healthy menopausal women.
After 16 weeks of of taking 20 grams a day, the women who took the honey were more likely to show improvement in their immediate memory, versus those who didn’t take any honey.
What’s more, this improvement was comparable with women who took hormone therapies like estrogen and progestin.
Of course, the honey wouldn’t cause the side effects that hormone medication would – like headaches, deep vein thrombosis, cancer, or heart disease!
Cure a Hangover
Hangovers are said to be so awful because alcohol breaks down into acetaldehyde, which is toxic to the body. The fructose in honey helps convert this to acetic acid, which the body can break down much easier.
The scientists behind the study claim that honey on toast is the perfect hangover food since you’ll also be getting potassium and sodium, which help the body deal with alcohol.
Apparently, honey has long been a hit in Asia for hangovers, they like to mix it into warm water.
I’m not suggesting you set out to check if this is the cure we’ve all been waiting for, but if you do happen to go a little heavy on the beer, it’s worth trying out.
Enjoy a better night’s sleep with a little honey before bed.
How does this work?
Well, honey raises our insulin levels slightly and allows a compound known as tryptophan to enter our brains.
Tryptophan, which is also found in turkey, fish, and eggs, helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin, which regulate our mood, as well as the length and quality of our sleep.
Seth Roberts has documented his thorough experiment on honey and how it improved his quality of sleep and overall strength…even after just one little teaspoon before bed.
Using Honey Topically
Honey doesn’t have to be eaten to exert its healing properties, you can also apply it topically to reap plenty of health benefits.
Heals Wounds & Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
Honey has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties that help explain its incredible wound healing abilities.
Fifty nine patients with wounds and ulcers, 80% of which had failed to heal with conventional treatment, were treated with unprocessed honey. After applying honey topically fifty eight cases showed remarkable improvement within one week!
Another study has found that medical grade honey has promising antimicrobial properties that may help prevent or treat infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.
This medical grade Manuka honey is becoming more and more common in doctors’ offices and veterinary practices because of its rapid healing abilities.
It’s pretty incredible to think this sweet nectar can do the job that laboratory formulated medication can’t…although I like to think that’s goes for a lot of foods besides honey.
Reduce Acne & Dry Skin
The ancient Egyptians used honey regularly for soft and supple skin, as did the Greeks, Romans, and other cultures (and let’s not forget Scarlett Johansson).
A honey mask is said to be effective in curing acne by cleansing pores and killing bacteria. It should also leave your skin smooth and glowing.
Say Goodbye to Dandruff
Want to get rid of your itchy scalp and snow capped shoulders?
Try honey diluted with 10% warm water and apply every second day for four weeks. Leave on for three hours before rinsing off.
Think it can’t be that simple?
Well that’s all that was needed for participants of a study to feel relief from the itching and dandruff associated with chronic seborrheic dermatitis.
They reported itching and scaling disappeared within one week, with skin lesions disappearing after two week.
A Little Goes a Long Way …
Honey is high in fructose, carbohydrates, and calories, so enjoy its healing properties sparingly.
It also has the same effects as ordinary white or brown sugar for people with diabetes and insulin resistance.
Avoid giving honey (even a little bit) to babies under one, to avoid infant botulism.
Other than that, honey is a great addition to your diet.
And with all these pretty amazing healing properties and health benefits, I can see why honey has been used for millennia.
I like to add a spoonful to my smoothies now and then – especially before the gym to supercharge my workout. It’s also really good stirred into oatmeal or on a wholegrain bagel with sliced banana.
What do you think of the ‘fake’ honey & Manuka honey claims? And have you ever tried honey for your health?