The Health Benefits of Honey

In addition to being a tasty natural sweetener, honey is rich with healing antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Discover the many health benefits of honey!

| May/June 2012

For centuries, honey has been one of nature’s culinary wonders. But the value of this golden treat isn’t strictly in its sweet taste. Honey also has a long history as a natural medicine, used to treat ailments of the internal organs and the skin. Hippocrates recommended consuming honey for optimal health, the ancient Egyptians used it as a salve to treat wounds, and Cleopatra is said to have considered it a vital part of her daily beauty routine. Today, honey with lemon is still a favorite remedy for colds and sore throats.

Wound Healer

Honey’s wound-healing properties are among its most impressive medicinal qualities. A study published in the journal Burns found honey salve healed superficial burns more quickly and effectively than a standard treatment of silver sulfadiazine. Another study examined the therapeutic effects of honey applied to surgical incisions following Caesarean sections and abdominal hysterectomies. Compared with patients treated with a standard solution of iodine and alcohol, those treated with honey were infection-free in fewer days, had a reduced hospital stay and experienced accelerated wound healing with minimal scar formation.

Honey helps heal wounds in several ways. Its thickness provides a protective barrier against germs, and honey naturally absorbs fluids in wounds, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Raw honey also contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. When the enzyme mixes with body fluids, it produces hydrogen peroxide and acts as a mild antiseptic. (Please note: Serious topical infections and wounds should be treated by a medical professional. Do not attempt to heal wounds with honey from a jar; it might not be sterile.)

Bacteria Fighter

While most honeys derive their antibacterial effects from hydrogen peroxide, manuka honey (the Leptospermum species, primarily from New Zealand), may actually inhibit bacteria from attaching to tissues. Manuka honey may also keep bacteria from forming biofilms, which can protect them from antibiotics. A recent study from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, found that manuka honey fought antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including a strain of staph known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

But honey is not antagonistic to all bacteria. Scientists at Michigan State University added it to fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese and found honey enhanced the growth, activity and viability of certain bifidobacteria, which are believed to help sustain healthy digestion. The investigators suggest this benefit could make honey the sweetener of choice in many foods.

Antioxidants in Honey

Honey also hosts a horde of antioxidants, including the flavonoid pinocembrin, which is unique to honey. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the antioxidant activity of honey is comparable to that of many fruits and vegetables on a fresh-weight basis. And while you likely will not devour a cup of honey in lieu of broccoli, the golden liquid makes an antioxidant-rich alternative to sugar.

Rita Ladany
10/2/2012 8:38:49 PM

Sorry the link takes you to the page with many cookbooks just scroll down to the honey book you`ll see some nice infused honey recipes.

Rita Ladany
10/2/2012 8:35:46 PM

Love Some Honey! Check out these recipes

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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