What is Honey?
Honey can be found in its standard amber state but may also be red, brown, and even nearly black. Made by bees in an elegantly natural process, honey is designed for bees’ nourishment. Incredibly, each bee makes on average only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. Considering the tons of honey produced each year that is a lot of bees at work!
The honeybee (Latin name Apis) ﬁrst travels several miles to collect nectar from local ﬂowers into its mouth. Enzymes in the bee saliva then create a chemical reaction that turns this nectar into honey, which is deposited into the walls of the hive. Incredibly rapid movement of the bees’ wings aerates the honey, which decreases its water content and makes it ready to eat. Textures and ﬂavor are dependent on which ﬂowers the honeybees choose. Typical choices include heather, alfalfa, clover, and the acacia ﬂower.
Less common but well-known ﬂowers that confer their own special taste characteristics on the honey include thyme and lavender. In addition to honey, bees produce bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. These products concentrate many phytochemicals with powerful health-promoting activity. Yet, for the most part, these foods have been underappreciated and underutilized in North America.
• Bee pollen comes from the male germ cell of ﬂowering plants. As the honeybee travels from ﬂower to ﬂower, it fertilizes the female germ cells with some of the male germ cells it picks up. Honeybees make possible the reproduction of more than 80 percent of the world’s grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The remaining male pollen is collected and brought to the hive, where the bees add enzymes and nectar to the pollen.
• Bee pollen is comprised of tiny, golden yellow to dark brown granules that have a delicate ﬂavor and aroma that varies according to the plant pollen it was made from and is used as a nutritive tonic as well as to desensitize seasonal allergies.
• Propolis is the resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and barks of trees, especially poplar and conifer trees. The bees utilize the propolis along with beeswax to construct the hive. Propolis has antibiotic activities that help the hive block out viruses, bacteria, and other organisms. Propolis is yellow to brown, waxy, and bitter-ﬂavored and is used as an antimicrobial.
• Royal jelly is a thick, milky substance produced by worker bees to feed the queen bee. The worker bees mix honey and bee pollen with enzymes in the glands of their throats to produce royal jelly. Royal jelly is believed to be a useful nutritional supplement because of the queen bee’s superior size, strength, stamina, and longevity compared to other bees. It is used as a nutritive tonic.
History of Honey
Honey Source Referred to in ancient Sumerian, Vedic, Egyptian, and biblical writings, honey has been employed since ancient times for both nutrition and healing medicine. For centuries honey has been a multipurpose food, used to give homage to the gods and to help embalm the dead, as well as for medical and cosmetic purposes.Some evidence suggests that despite the risk of bee sting, collection of honey has occurred since 7000 B.C.E., and since at least 700 B.C.E., beekeeping for the production of honey (apiculture) has been used. To the surprise of the Spanish conquistadors, the natives of Central and South America were already keeping bees for the purpose of collecting honey when they arrived. Honey was considered a food of the rich for many years.More recently, honey has decreased in popularity as reﬁned sugar, which is cheaper and sweeter, has replaced the sweet, viscous liquid in ordinary households all over the world.
Types of Honey
- Manuka honey strengthens the immune system. The Kiva Certified UMF 15+ – Raw Manuka Honey 15+ is lab-certified to UMF 15+ standard and is raw. This is a genuine Manuka Honey harvested from the remote hills, forest, and coastal areas of New Zealand.
- Buckwheat is a healthier alternative to cough syrup and good for the immune system.
- Wildflower – Topanga Quality Wildflower Honey is raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized. Kosher too.
- Alfalfa – Stockin’s Unheated and Unfiltered Raw Alfalfa Honey is made in Saskatchewan, Canada from Alfalfa Blossoms.
- Black Locust has the lowest glycemic of all of the kinds of honey.
- Raw Locust Honey by the Beekeeper’s Daughter is light, clean, and very aromatic and floral.
- Orange Blossom
- Clover: Uncle Henry’s Honey was voted best tasting by honey lovers and is from the purest wildflower fields of Canada.
The Process of Making Honey
You’d be surprised to know the effort that goes into making honey as it’s not just your run-of-the-mill kind of process.
Bee experts assert that to make one pound of honey, it takes approximately 60,000 bees traveling to possibly 2 million flowers (around 55,000 miles) to extract enough nectar.
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That’s a lot of teamwork and it takes a lot of time!
Did you know that bees have an extra stomach that they store the nectar in?
Yes, these lucky bees get to have two stomachs to ingest their favorite food – pollen.
In the extra stomach, the nectar from the pollen they gather mixes with enzymes, which the bee regurgitates (vomits) right into another bee’s mouth.
Sounds gross, but it’s actually very natural and not as dirty as it sounds.
This process keeps repeating until the nectar is partially digested.
It then gets stored in a honeycomb and the bees use their wings to fan the liquid nectar to make it thicker.
Afterward, a liquid which seals the nectar is secreted from the bee’s abdomen and the nectar is hardened into beeswax.
If you haven’t taken a look at a bunch of bees hovering in and around a honeycomb, it’s actually very interesting!
Nutritional Highlights of Honey
Honey is a source of riboﬂavin and vitamin B 6. It also provides iron and manganese. A 100 gram serving of honey provides 304 calories, mostly as 82.4 grams of carbohydrate, almost all of which is sugar, 0.3 gram of protein, and no fat. However, honey is more likely to be consumed by the tablespoon (15 grams), which provides 64 calories, 17.3 grams of carbohydrate, and 0.1 gram of protein.
Bee pollen is often referred to as “nature’s most perfect food” because it is a complete protein (typically containing 10 to 35 percent total protein) in that it contains all eight essential amino acids. Bee pollen also provides B vitamins, vitamin C, carotene, minerals, DNA and RNA, numerous ﬂavonoid molecules, and plant hormones.
Propolis and royal jelly have similar nutritional qualities as pollen but have considerably higher levels of different biologically active compounds. A 100 gram serving provides 313 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrate, 25 grams of protein, and 12.5 grams of fat. A table- spoon provides 25 calories, 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of fat.
Honey is a great source of simple carbohydrates. Nectar itself is composed mainly of sucrose and water. Bees add enzymes that create additional chemical compounds, inverting the sucrose into fructose and glucose, and then evaporate the water so that the resulting product will resist spoiling.
80% natural sugar – mostly fructose and glucose.
Due to the high level of fructose, honey is sweeter than table sugar.
Most beekeepers believe that the less water content the honey has, the better the quality of honey.
Minerals and Vitamins
2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein.
Honey contains natural minerals and vitamins which help the metabolizing of undesirable cholesterol and fatty acid on the organs and tissues into the system, hence preventing obesity and promoting better health for us. The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Manuka honey has a higher than normal conductivity, a way of measuring the mineral content of a honey — about 4 times that of normal flower honeys. The higher the conductivity, the better the value of the honey.
One tablespoon of natural sweetener honey contains 64 calories. How does this number compare with table sugar? Full account in: Amount of Calorie in Honey.
Honey Contains Some Nutrients
Honey is a sweet, thick liquid made by honeybees. The bees swarm their environment and collect the sugar-rich nectar of flowers. Then inside the beehive, they repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate (“vomit”) the nectar. The end product is honey, a liquid that is supposed to serve as stored food for the bees. The smell, color and taste depend on the types of flowers the bees visit.
Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose. It contains virtually no fiber, fat or protein. It also contains trace amounts (under 1% of RDA) of several vitamins and minerals, but you would have to eat many pounds to fulfill your daily requirements. Where honey shines is in its content of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than lighter types.
Health Benefits of Honey
The health beneﬁts of a particular honey depend on its processing as well as the quality of the ﬂowers the bees utilize when collecting the pollen. Raw honey is honey that has not been pasteurized, clariﬁed, or ﬁltered, and this form typically retains more of the healthful phytochemicals lost to the standard processing of honey.
Propolis is a product of tree sap mixed with bee secretions that is used by bees to protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Propolis is unfortunately lost in honey processing, thus greatly reducing the level of phytochemicals known to protect against the germs; recent research suggests that these may also prevent certain types of cancer.
Also important, healthy, organic ﬂowering plants will provide the raw nectar that will confer a higher-quality nutrient proﬁle to the honey produced. Within the propolis are well-researched phytochemicals that have cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties. These substances include caffeic acid, methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate.
Researchers have discovered that these substances in propolis prevent colon cancer in animals by shutting down the activity of two enzymes, phosphatidylinositol-speciﬁc phospholipase C and lipoxygenase that are involved in the production of cancer-causing compounds.
The following sections address the health beneﬁts of honey in its raw form.
1. Antioxidant Effects
Honey, particularly darker honey, such as buckwheat honey, is a rich source of phenolic compounds, such as ﬂavonoids, that exert signiﬁcant antioxidant activity. A recent human trial showed that daily consumption of honey actually improves blood antioxidant levels and helps prevent lipid peroxidation.
Lipid peroxidation, the damaging of lipids (such as cholesterol) by free radicals, is central to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Honey’s ability to prevent lipid peroxidation may trans- late into a protective effect against atherosclerosis, since oxidized cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for this cardiovascular disease.
In one human trial, twenty-ﬁve men aged eighteen to sixty-eight years drank a mixture equivalent to about 4 tablespoons of honey in a glass of water every day for a period of ﬁve weeks. The honey, which had antioxidant levels similar to those in apples, bananas, oranges, and strawberries, was shown to signiﬁcantly improve blood antioxidant levels in all the subjects.
Earlier studies conducted by Dr. Nicki Engeseth, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, determined the antioxidant capacity of buckwheat, Hawaiian Christmas berry, tupelo, soybean, clover, ﬁre-weed, and acacia honeys.
Using the test that is the gold standard for such research—the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay—-Engeseth found that the darkest-colored honeys, such as buckwheat honey, have the highest ORAC values, which are related to the amount of phenolic compounds they contain.
The human trial, also led by Engeseth, showed that the higher a honey’s ORAC activity, the better able it was to inhibit lipoprotein (cholesterol) oxidation. Engeseth’s research suggests that honey could be used as a healthy alternative to sugar and serve as a source of dietary antioxidants in many products.
2. Energy-Enhancing Effects
Honey is an excellent source of readily available carbohydrate, a chief source of quick energy. In the time of the ancient Olympics, athletes were reported to eat special foods, such as honey and dried ﬁgs, to enhance their sports performance. Recently, one group of researchers investigated the use of honey as in performance aid in athletes. The study involved a group of thirty-nine weight-trained athletes, both male and female.
Subjects underwent an intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with sugar, maltodextrin, or honey as the carbohydrate source. The honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein combination.
Sustaining favorable blood sugar concentrations after endurance training by ingesting carbohydrates before, during, and after training is important for maintaining muscle glycogen stores (glycogen is the form in which sugar is stored in muscle as ready-to-use fuel), so that muscle recuperation is more efﬁcient and the athlete is ready to perform again at his or her highest level the next day.
So for now, honey appears to be a suitable source of carbohydrate that can help athletes perform at their best, but it does not appear to be a superior choice compared to other carbohydrates.
3. Wound-Healing Properties
The wound-healing properties of honey maybe the most promising medicinal quality. Honey has been used topically as an antiseptic therapeutic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns, and wounds for centuries. One study in India compared the wound-healing effects of honey to a conventional treatment (silver sulphadiazene) in 104 ﬁrst-degree burn patients.
After one week of treatment, 91 percent of honey- treated burns were infection-free compared with only 7 percent receiving the conventional treatment. At the conclusion of the study, a greater percentage of patients’ burns were healed more readily in the honey-treated group.
Another study examined the wound-healing beneﬁts of honey applied topically to patients following cesarean section and hysterectomy surgeries. Compared to the group receiving the standard solution of iodine and alcohol, the honey-treated group was infection-free in fewer days, healed more cleanly, and had reduced hospital stays.
Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the wound-healing beneﬁts that are observed when honey is applied topically. Because honey is composed mainly of glucose and fructose, two sugars that strongly attract water, honey absorbs water in the wound, drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited. Secondly, raw honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that, when combined with water, produces hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic.
In addition to the glucose oxidase enzyme found in honey, which may help in the healing process, honey also contains antioxidants and ﬂavonoids that may function as antibacterial agents. One antioxidant in particular, pinocembrin, which is unique to honey, is currently being studied for its antibacterial properties.
One laboratory study of unpasteurized honey samples indicated the majority had antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium found readily in our environment that can cause infections, especially in open wounds. Other reports indicate honey is effective at inhibiting Escherichia coli and Candida albicans.
Darker honeys, speciﬁcally honey from buckwheat ﬂowers, sage, and tupelo, contain a greater amount of antioxidants than other honeys, and raw, unprocessed honey contains the widest variety of health-supportive substances.
4. Anticancer Beneﬁts
Propolis contains well-researched phytochemicals that have numerous cancer-preventing and antitumor 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 the activity of two enzymes, phosphatidylinositol-speciﬁc phospholipase C and lipoxygenase that are involved in the production of cancer-causing compounds.
5. Healthy Weight Management
Research studies have linked honey consumption with weight loss. A San Diego State University study found that replacing sugar with honey can actually help prevent packing on extra pounds and also lower blood sugar. The results also suggest that in comparison to sugar, honey may lower serum triglycerides.
Another study from the University of Wyoming found that raw honey can activate hormones that suppress the appetite. In the double-blind randomly assigned study, appetite hormones and glycemic responses were measured in 14 healthy non-obese women after consuming a breakfast containing either honey or sugar. Overall, researchers concluded that honey consumption offers potential obesity protective effects.
6. Counters Pollen Allergies
Raw honey contains bee pollen, which is known to ward off infections, provide natural allergy relief and boost overall immunity. Honey’s ability to prevent allergies is based on a concept called immunotherapy. How so? The bees in your neighborhood go from flower to flower collecting pollen that causes you to suffer, but when a you consume local raw honey, you also consume that same offending local pollen. After some time, an allergy sufferer may become less sensitive to this pollen that previously caused problems and experience less seasonal allergy symptoms. Many seasonal allergy sufferers have found local, raw honey to be helpful because it desensitizes them to the fauna triggering their allergic reaction.
A 2013 study found that eating honey at a high dose (one gram per kilogram of body weight of honey daily) can improve allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks. Researchers absorbed that the honey consumption improved overall and individual symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response that causes itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and other similar symptoms.
Some people say that a daily tablespoon of honey can actually act like an allergy shot. The type of honey is key though since pasteurized honey does not contain any pollen. For possible seasonal allergy relief, you need to consume raw honey with pollen in it.
7. Natural Energy Source
Raw honey contains natural sugars (80 percent), water (18 percent), and minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein (2 percent). It’s not surprising that honey has been called “the perfect running fuel.” It provides an easily absorbed supply of energy in the form of liver glycogen, making it ideal for energetic morning starts and as a pre- and post-exercise energy source.
Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory have shown honey to be one of the best choices of carbohydrate to consume right before exercising. Additionally, studies have revealed that as a sporting fuel, honey performs on a par with glucose, which is the sugar used in most commercial energy gels.
When it comes to raw honey’s use in athletic endeavors, I highly recommend raw honey for both fueling and recovery. That’s why raw honey is included in some of the best pre-workout snacks and post-workout meals.
8. Sleep Promoter
Raw honey promotes restorative sleep in two ways. By consuming honey before bedtime, it restocks the liver’s glycogen supply and prevents the brain from triggering a crisis search for fuel, which can wake you up. Secondly, eating raw honey fosters the release of melatonin in the brain by creating a small spike in insulin levels, which stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan converts to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin.
Melatonin also boosts immunity and helps rebuild tissue during periods of rest. Poor sleep, by comparison, has been shown to be a risk factor for hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and arthritis. As honey is a proven natural sleep aid, it naturally lowers the risk of all these health problems.
9. Diabetes Aid
Consumption of raw honey can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and help aid medication used to treat diabetes. The combination of raw honey and cinnamon can be especially beneficial to healthy blood sugar management, as well as many other health concerns like gingivitis and acne.
According to a study out of Dubai, honey has been observed to cause a lower elevation of plasma glucose levels in diabetics compared to dextrose and sucrose. Some suggest that the insulin-boosting power of cinnamon can counteract this glucose elevation in honey, which would make your honey and cinnamon mixture a low glycemic index food combination.
Raw honey increases insulin and decreases hyperglycemia. Try consuming a little at a time and see how your blood sugar reacts to it, and add both raw honey and cinnamon to your diabetic diet plan.
10. Natural Cough Syrup
Raw honey has been shown to be as effective in treating coughs as over-the-counter commercial cough syrups. Increasing scientific evidence shows that a single dose of honey can reduce mucus secretion and coughs. In one study, honey was just as effective as diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan, common ingredients found in over-the counter cough medicines.
For a cough, a half teaspoon to two teaspoons of honey at bedtime is a studied and recommended dosage for anyone over the age of one.
11. Improves Athletic Performance
Recent research has shown that honey is an excellent ergogenic aid and helps in boosting the performance of athletes. It is a great way to maintain blood sugar levels, recuperate muscles, and restore glycogen after a workout, as well as regulate the amount of insulin in the body.
12. Antiseptic Property
It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicines.
13. Memory Booster
As we age, we want to keep our memory sharp, so consuming foods that will give the memory a boost is recommended. Antioxidants are fabulous for feeding the cells of your brain the food it needs to thrive. You’ll find that there are plenty of antioxidants in honey , which can help keep your brain in tip-top shape. In fact, research shows that honey may help postmenopausal women’s memory stay sharp by simply taking one spoonful each day.
Adding a teaspoon to a cup of tea each day is an easy and refreshing way to meet that quota. Honey also helps the brain absorb calcium, which helps with memory as well. Taking good care of your brain via consuming proper nutrition can decrease your chances of contending with dementia down the road.
14. Helps with Dandruff
Walking around scratching your scalp can be fairly embarrassing. The good news is that researchers have found that when you apply a diluted solution of honey and water to the scalp and leave it on for a few hours, your scalp will get back to its healthy self in no time.
In fact, some people report that skin lesions completely heal after just a couple weeks of this remedy; others say that they saw an improvement in avoiding hair loss as well. Honey works so well with scalp issues because of its antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. So feel free to lather up your head with some local honey and receive this deep type of conditioning for the scalp so that you won’t have to worry about dry, flaky scalp any longer.
You can even use honey if you don’t have any scalp issues; it will simply moisturize and give your hair a wonderful conditioning.
15. Helps with Scrapes and Burns
Because of its natural antibiotic nature, honey can help soothe and treat wounds and burns. Simply apply honey and it will help disinfect the wound from some serious bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In fact, honey was used as an infection-fighting therapy for many years until penicillin came on the scene in the early 20th century. Many turned to penicillin and the use of honey to treat infection waned. Now, with so many people interested in getting back to natural remedies, honey has become much more popular for treating such cases.
A great honey for treating wounds and burns is Manuka honey which is made from the pollen from Manuka bush flowers. One of my favorite Manuka honey is Wedderspoon 100% Raw Premium Manuka Honey which you can buy on Amazon. There have been clinical studies done on this type of honey and it has been found that over 250 clinical strains of bacteria are treated by Manuka honey.
It has a special ingredient that makes it much more powerful than the other honey types. No one knows exactly what the ingredient is, so it’s simply called the “Unique Manuka Factor” (UMF). Even if you cannot obtain Manuka honey, any raw, unprocessed honey can help wounds and burns heal quickly.
Children love this type of remedy for their scrapes or burns because it does not sting them like hydrogen peroxide. Offer them a small taste of the honey before applying it as they will learn that honey is super good for their bodies and hopefully continue to consume it throughout life.
16. Helps with Herpes
Dealing with herpes breakouts can surely be frustrating and sometimes the over-the-counter medications simply don’t work the way people would like them to. Not to mention, many people don’t like to purchase herpes medication as they feel ashamed of their condition. Those that contend with herpes will be relieved to hear that honey can help with symptoms of herpes because if applied on sores, it draws fluid away from them.
Furthermore, because honey has a high sugar value, it keeps microorganism growth to a minimum. The nectar from the bees includes the enzyme glucose oxidase, which helps when the honey is applied to your wound because a little bit of hydrogen peroxide is released, cleansing the wound.
If you contend with herpes breakouts, do give honey a try to see if you get some relief and if the sores heal quicker. Honey can be a safe, affordable healing agent that will certainly save you from spending big money on prescription or over-the-counter medicines that oftentimes come with side effects or toxic ingredients.
17. Can be Used as a Moisturizer
For those who like DIY home remedies, honey is a fantastic ingredient that will help restore moisture to your hands, feet, and entire body.Since honey retains moisture quite well, you can add it to shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers for wonderful results. Here are several DIY honey home recipes you can use today:
Honey Body Moisturizer:
Combine 5 TBS honey, 2 TBS rose oil, and 2 cups almond oil in a bottle and shake
Use this moisturizer as often as you’d like
Honey Hair Conditioner:
- Combine ½ cup honey with ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Apply this to your hair and work it in well
- Use a shower cap to cover your hair for 30 minutes and then shampoo as you would normally
Honey Almond Exfoliating Scrub:
Combine 3 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, and 6 TBS crushed almonds
Apply to your face gently, rubbing it around, and rinse with warm water.
18. Helps Soothe Acid Reflux
Honey has been known to help prevent Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and soothe acid reflux and heartburn. The best type of honey to use for this is Manuka honey from New Zealand, but if you cannot purchase it, any raw, unprocessed honey will do. There is quite a bit of research indicating that honey can help reduce symptoms associated with acid reflux and it can aid in healing the esophagus.
Perhaps not backed by as much evidence, but some say that honey will also heal H. pylori infections in the stomach, which are oftentimes the culprit for stomach ulcers. What occurs when you consume honey is that it lines the esophagus, which helps heal inflammation or damage; this will ultimately help reduce GERD symptoms.
Some say that honey also helps keep digestion going smoothly because it contains certain enzymes that give the digestive system a boost. If you’re contending with acid reflux, consume one teaspoon before each major meal and consider adding it to a cup of warm tea before bed. Do not give honey to an infant as their digestive systems are not fully developed yet and can make the infant very sick if, by chance, the honey has botulism in it.
19. Honey for Hangovers
Ah, waking up with a hangover is one of the worst feelings, right? Even when you resolve to just “have a few”, sometimes you throw back more than your liver can handle and wake up feeling less than fine. You throw a pillow over your head and vow to never drink that much again and try to go back to sleep. You might even have to call in sick for work.
Yes, hangovers bite, but there are some things you can do to help make that hangover go away fast and consuming honey is one of them.
How does it help?
Honey helps your liver speed up the oxidation of the alcohol, which helps get the toxins out of your body faster. That headache you feel is caused by the liver’s inability to process all of the toxins from the drinks you quickly consumed.
It takes time, but honey can help speed up that process. Drinking lots of water is another great way to get over hangovers faster. Here is a great recipe for the hangover blues:
Hangover Blues Smoothie
When you’ve got the hangover blues, feel free to use honey to help you get to feeling back to normal. There’s nothing worse than trying to tackle the day with a pounding headache and nausea.
Simply add 1 tablespoon of honey to 2 cups of orange juice and 1 cup of Greek yogurt or Kefir. Blend these ingredients until smooth and drink up.
20. Helps with Acne
No one likes to contend with acne. Whether you’re an adolescent or an adult, if you’re struggling with acne, consider adding honey to your diet and applying it to affected areas. It contains humectants that moisturize your skin and have the ability to kill the bacteria that is causing your acne. There are several ways you can use honey to help reduce acne.
A great way to fight acne is to apply raw, unprocessed honey to the areas on your body that are prone to it; these areas usually being the face, chest, or back. Leave the honey on for about 30 minutes and rinse off with warm water. Another great recipe is adding cinnamon to honey and applying it to the affected area or ingesting it daily. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to 8 oz. of hot or boiling water.
Simmer for about 30 minutes and then add 1 teaspoon of honey . Drink this in the morning about 30 minutes before breakfast. You should see some results and feel better in general within a few weeks.
Factors Governing the Benefits of Honey
Not all honey is created equally, so the quality is different. Both the price and the health benefits of honey are dependent on its quality, so it has become very important for the manufacturers and consumers to understand the various factors that affect the quality of honey. Some of these factors include the type of flowers used in the formation of the honeycombs, the blending process, storage conditions, the temperature of heating, and more. These factors have been explained below in more detail
Type of flowers: According to the Honey Research Center at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions on the properties of honey, especially the antimicrobial properties, based on the type of flowers used for its production. However, extensive research has been carried out on the honeydew variety obtained from the conifer forests in the central European mountains and the manuka variety obtained from New Zealand. The above-mentioned honeydew kind has been found to have a high microbial activity while the manuka kind has been found to have high non-peroxide activity.
Blending: It is also believed that polyfloral honey (which is obtained from more than one flower) provides more benefits than monofloral. Hence, many companies sell blended honey as it offers the benefits from a variety and is, therefore, considered to be healthier than non-blended honey.
Storage: When stored for a long duration, it becomes darker in color. It loses some of its properties and may also ferment if the water content is too high. Therefore, prolonged storage should be avoided, while newly harvested honey should be preferred.
Heating: Heating honey leads to drastic changes in its chemical composition. As a result, heating at high temperatures reduces its benefits. No wonder many people prefer raw, organic or raw organic honey. While raw by definition signifies less processing (and no heating), organic honey is prepared using stringent organic production methods and processing standards, in which heating at high temperatures is not allowed.
Water Content: Honey can also undergo fermentation. If the water content is high (above 19%), the chances of it becoming fermented are high. You can measure the water content using a refractometer. Furthermore, freely flowing honey either contains higher water content or has been heated to disturb the natural crystallization process, thereby reducing the benefits it will confer to you.
Color: The color of honey is a very useful tool to judge its quality. Light colored honey is more valued than dark colored as the former has a delicate flavor. It becomes darker upon storing and heating.
Filtration: Most of the benefits are due to the presence of the pollen within the honey. Without the pollen, it is a glucose-fructose solution and is just as bad for you as sugar. Unfortunately, companies market the transparent clear product as good quality, while in reality, ultra-filtered honey does not have many health benefits at all. That being said, you should be very cautious while consuming pollen-rich honey. If you have a pollen allergy, avoid consuming it.
How to Select and Store Honey
Honey is usually found pasteurized, although more health-conscious consumers can ﬁnd the raw version as well (see “Health Beneﬁts” above). Pasteurized honey is generally translucent; honeys that are “creamy” are usually produced by mixing crystallized honey into the liquid honey mixture.
Darker honey is usually of a stronger ﬂavor. Flavors also depend on the ﬂower nectar from which the honey is produced, so it is fun to try honey made from various sources to experience the gustatory nuances in this delicious food. High sugar and acid content helps this liquid remain quite fresh for long periods of time.
Honey does easily absorb moisture from air, and honey stored in an airtight container will keep practically indeﬁnitely. Since cold promotes viscosity and changes honey’s ﬂavor and taste, it is best not to store honey in cold conditions.
Bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly are most often available in the refrigerated sections in health food stores in opaque containers to maintain optimal freshness. Fresh royal jelly is more difﬁcult to ﬁnd in the U.K., but there are some suppliers on the Internet. These foods should be stored in the refrigerator. Bee pollen and propolis will keep for up to one year, while royal jelly will keep up to six months.
BEE POLLEN, PROPOLIS, AND ROYAL JELLY
While honey has some major health beneﬁts, it is a source of signiﬁcant amounts of simple sugars; if you are looking for the health beneﬁts without so much sugar, it is best to choose another bee product. These products and their primary uses are:
Little research has been done on bee pollen—probably because there is little ﬁnancial reward to justify such an investment—but the research that does exist is impressive. For example, studies in animals show that bee pollen can promote growth and development, protect against free-radical and oxidative damage, and protect against the effects of harmful radiation as well as toxic exposure to chemical solvents.
Bee pollen extract has also been shown to produce signiﬁcant improvement in menopausal symptoms, including headache, urinary incontinence, dry vagina, and decreasing vitality, in double-blind studies. The improvements were achieved even though the pollen extract produces no oestrogenic effect, an important consideration for women who cannot take oestrogens of any kind.
Propolis has inherent antibiotic activity to help the hive block out viruses, bacteria, and other organisms. It seems these same effects can help humans block out organisms as well, since propolis has shown considerable antimicrobial octivity in test-tube studies. Propolis also stimulates the body’s immune system, according to preliminary human studies. Test-tube and animal studies have shown that propolis exerts some antioxidant, liver-protecting, anti-inﬂammatory, and anticancer properties, too.
One of the key uses of propolis may turn out to be offering protection against and shortening the duration of the common cold. A preliminary human study reported that propolis extract reduced upper respiratory infections in children. In a double-blind study of ﬁfty patients with the common cold, the group taking propolis extract became symptom-free far more quickly than the placebo group did.
Another possible application of propolis is in the treatment of inﬂammatory bowel diseases (lBD’s), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerotive colitis. In June 200i, Ralph Golan, M.D., the author of Optimal Wellness, described an interesting case of ulcerative colitis that responded to propolis therapy in an article in the Townsend: Letter for Doctors. Dr. Golan feels that the antimicrobial and anti-inﬂammatory properties of propolis are put to good use in the treatment of lBD.
The antimicrobial properties of propolis may also help protect against parasitic infections in the gastrointestinal tract. One preliminary study of children and adults with giardiasis (a common intestinal parasite infection) showed a 52 percent rate of successful parasite elimination in children and a 60 percent rate in adults in those given propolis extract (amount not stated). However; these results are not as impressive as those achieved with conventional drugs used against giardiasis, so propolis should not be used alone for this condition without first consulting a physician about available medical treatment.
There has been reasonable scientific investigation of royal jelly’s cholesterol-lowering effect. Speciﬁcally, ten human only three studies utilized an oral preparation. An injectable form was used in the other four.
Results of a detailed analysis of the double-blind studies indicate that with oral preparations, despite shortcomings in the design of the studies and lack of standardization of the commercial preparations used, royal jelly can produce decreases in total cholesterol levels of about l 4 percent in patients with moderate to severe elevations in blood cholesterol levels (initial values ranging from 210 to 325 milligrams per deciliter/5.4 to 8.4 mmol/l).
Even better results may be noted when using higher-quality royal jelly products.studies have been published, seven of which were double-blind. Of these seven double-blind studies,
Quick Serving Ideas for Honey
1. Honey is a ﬁne replacement for white cane sugar as a sweetener in your coffee or tea.
2. A healthy light snack is to slice an apple, drizzle it with honey, and sprinkle it with 1/2 tea- spoon of cinnamon.
3. Buy plain yogurt and add honey for a natural sweetener that is not too sugary.
4. Children of all ages have always enjoyed sandwich bread with a combination of peanut or almond butter, plus bananas and honey.
5. In a saucepan over low heat, combine 2 cups soy milk, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 table- spoons unsweetened cocoa to make a deliciously nutritious hot cocoa.
6. Enjoy the pleasure of homemade honey-roasted nuts. Drizzle a little honey onto nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and roast in a low-temperature oven until hot.
7. To give baked sweet potatoes even more of a sweet taste, pour a little bit of honey on top.
8. Add a nutritious punch to your protein smoothie by adding 1 teaspoon or more bee pollen or royal jelly.
Raw Honey vs. Not Raw
Raw honey is a crude form of honey immediately taken out of the cells of the honey combs within a bee hive. This form of honey is far from pure. It commonly contains bee pollen and propolis, which are both two very positive health additions. However, raw honey can also possibly contain dead bees, legs, wings, hunks of beeswax and other impurities. Don’t worry though — if any of these unwanted items get into the honey they’re strained out before bottling.
Raw honey cannot be heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the normal temperature of the bee hive. While it’s OK to strain raw honey, it’s never filtered or pasteurized. It also cannot have any other additives.
On the other hand, commercial honey is often heavily processed and may even have been chemically refined. Excessive heat destroys the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals in honey, making honey processing a very bad thing. Filtering and processing eliminate many of the beneficial phytonutrients, including pollen and enzyme-rich propolis. The only way to achieve sparkling clear honey is by heat, so avoid the golden, syrup-like honey in favor of opaque, organic raw honey.
Non-raw honey or regular commercial honey can be sourced from bees that are treated with antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin in China’s honey). They also may likely be given winter nourishment in the form of sugar or a low-cost syrup. Hives are made of non-organic materials, which can have pests and be cleaned with non-organic substances. Honey that isn’t raw is pasteurized and filtered, and it can have additives.
Research by the Palynology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University tested 60 honey products from supermarkets and grocery stores and found that 76 percent contained no trace of bee pollen, which is also loaded with health benefits. The Food and Drug Administration maintains that any honey products that have been ultra-filtered, as these have, are not actually honey and therefore the health benefits of honey cannot be assumed. Some “honey” may even contain high fructose corn syrup.
Organic Honey vs. Not Organic
Organic honey usually means raw organic honey. Just like with raw honey, heating is not allowed above 95 degrees F. In order to be called organic, honey must follow good organic management, according to each country’s set of standards and conditions. Processing should also only be done by means of gravitational settling and straining.
Manuka vs. Other Varieties
“Conductivity” is an indirect way of measuring the mineral content of a honey. Manuka honey has a higher than normal conductivity with about four times the conductivity of normal flower honeys. The higher the conductivity, the better the nutritional value of the honey.
When it comes to Manuka honey versus other varieties, Manuka always has a unique Manuka factor (UMF), which is a global standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength of Manuka. Essentially, the UMF is a guarantee that the honey being sold is of a medicinal quality. This is a standard of health value completely unique to Manuka honey.
The minimum UMF rating recognized is UMF5 — however, it’s not considered beneficial unless it carries a UMF10+ level of antibacterial activity in the honey. Anything ranging from UMF10—UMF15 is a useful level, and anything UMF16 and up is considered a superior quality. While other honeys, like organic raw honey, can certainly have hugely positive health effects, they don’t have this exact measurement or rating like Manuka.
The National Honey Board, “an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that educates consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products,” according to its website, also has more info on honey varieties. One healthy option is fermented honey. Also, if you see crystallization in your honey, it may mean there’s an overabundance of sugars, so keep an eye out. It is a natural process, however.
Polyfloral Honey vs. Monofloral Honey
No matter the variety of honey, each honey can be separated into either polyfloral honey or monofloral honey. What’s the difference? Monofloral honey comes from bees that utilize the nectar of just one flower species, hence mono, while polyfloral honey comes from bees that utilize nectar from multiple flower sources.
What is Organic Honey?
Some people have the opinion that all honey available in the market is natural and obtained from the wild. Others feel that during its production carried out on chemically sprayed farms it can get contaminated with the pesticides sprayed on the crops and weeds.
However, the truth is that the bees may also get affected by the extensive pesticide usage which goes on in the chemically treated farms. This issue is so severe that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, warned Barack Obama in May 2013 that if the excessive use of pesticides is not reduced, it could lead to a globally volatile situation as the bee population throughout the world may become more and more affected. If pesticides can kill the bees, how can they not affect the honey produced by these bees? Moreover, non-organic production involves antibiotics for controlling diseases. It should also be noted that so far, there is no scientific proof that organic honey is healthier than non-organic variety.
Then why should you eat organic honey? Well, many people prefer to be cautious. Most of our decisions are based on our beliefs and conscience. Since organic production involves following stringent guidelines, people feel secure when they eat organic type as compared to when they eat non-organic. Given below are some of the ways in which pesticide and antibiotic contamination of honey can take place:
Contamination of Honey
It can be contaminated with the pesticides sprayed on crops through one or more of the following ways:
- In some cases, when the plants and weeds containing flowers have been sprayed with pesticides, the bees get poisoned too.
- At times, the pesticide is sprayed on the bees directly.
- In many cases, the bees collect nectar and pollen that has been contaminated with pesticides.
- When pesticides are sprayed, part of the amount is accumulated in the water on or near the plants. When the bees drink this water, they are also affected.
- On some occasions, the pesticide gets sprayed on the beehives or gets transported to it from the sprayed plants.
Residues of Antibiotics
Conventional bees are given large doses of antibiotics to protect them from diseases, but unfortunately, the honey also becomes contaminated with these antibiotics. In 2002, samples of Chinese honey were tested for the presence of antibiotics in Europe. Several samples were found to contain traces of antibiotics, which led to a ban on the imports of Chinese honey in Europe. The ban was later removed in 2004 due to improvements in Chinese veterinary standards and imports of honey from China were resumed.
What leads to this antibiotics contamination? Unlike organic production, conventional honey production does not involve stringent guidelines for the quantity and mode of transmission of antibiotics to the bees. As a result, apiculturists have a free hand when using these antibiotics. When farmers use excessive quantities of antibiotics the chance of contamination increases.
What is the problem with residues of antibiotics being found in honey? The antibiotics given to the bees are veterinary antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, streptomycin, and sulfonamides. Large doses of chloramphenicol administered into the human beings may cause cancer and aplastic anemia. Similarly, high doses of streptomycin and sulfonamides are harmful too.
Many countries have not banned the use of these harmful drugs in apiculture. The EU has banned all three while the US has only banned chloramphenicol till date.
Where to buy raw honey?
You can buy raw honey at grocery and health food stores. Local farmers markets are also great places to pick it up. Large big-box stores such as Walmart and Target are also reliable places to find raw honey. Since it can be locally produced, you can find this beneficial product at co-ops around the world.
Where to buy local honey?
The best places to find raw honey are in the local neighborhood near you. As a cottage industry that has gotten a major boost in recent years, local farmers markets and co-ops always have raw honey for sale. You can also go to larger stores and chains, which have seen the trend and gotten on board. Try everything from small health foods stores to major big-box brands, such as Target and Walmart.
What does honey do for your body?
Honey does a number of things for the body, including strengthening the immune system, healing wounds, and burns, preventing infections, soothing inflammation in the respiratory system, eliminating coughs and colds, balancing blood sugar, and increasing athletic stamina. There are many minerals and nutrients in it, which is why it has become an important staple in our diet.
What are the health benefits of honey?
The health benefits of honey are quite impressive, and since it is such a concentrated source of nutrients, it can be added to different meals. Honey is able to monitor blood sugar levels, increase energy in a healthy and sustainable way, soothe inflammation, protect heart health, speed the healing process of wounds, and prevent infections.
What does honey contain?
Honey contains a number of minerals and vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. There are also important antioxidants, such as flavonoids and alkaloids. There are trace amounts of more than 15 amino acids found in honey!
Where to buy honey?
The best places to buy honey are local farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and medical stores. Many people make their own honey and it can help relieve allergies if you eat honey that contains some of the pollen from where you live. It can help your system become accustomed and not react as quickly!
Is pure honey good for you?
Yes, pure honey is very good for you. Although it is high in sugar, there are numerous antioxidants and organic compounds that make it well worth consuming. Also, it is unprocessed, which you won’t find in many of the major labels and brands. Locally produced honey, otherwise known as raw honey, is the healthiest type you could possibly buy.
Is organic honey good for you?
Organic honey is indeed good for health. It is unprocessed, so it retains all the minerals and antioxidants, which is what you want. If you process honey, very often you’re only left with sugar, which is the worst part!
Negative Effects Of Honey
1. May Cause Food Poisoning
It is mostly the result of raw honey consumption. If you ever consume unpasteurized honey, the chances are high that you will become vulnerable to food poisoning. As it is neither heated nor processed, it may contain foreign particles, such as pollen, tiny pieces of bee wings, propolis, honeycomb bits. These may eventually trigger digestive system disorder in the user.
So if you have a weak digestive system, I suggest you stay away from the raw variety of honey.
2. May Cause Botulism In Infants
Honey shouldn’t be given to a toddler who is yet to reach his first year.Raw honey may comprise toxic Clostridium botulinum spores. When consumed by infants under the age of 12 months, it can lead to a severe medical condition called ‘botulism.’ This is basically a poisoning caused by bee venom, and your baby might experience its symptoms.
Some of the symptoms are fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, constipation, irritability, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, loss of appetite, respiratory arrest, muscle paralysis, etc.
Don’t give honey to infants before the age of 12 years. If an infant shows any of the aforementioned symptoms post honey intake, take them to the doctor immediately.
3. Abdominal Discomfort
Overconsumption of honey may cause severe abdominal pain.
Being rich in fructose, it can interrupt the nutrient absorption capacity of your small intestine. It can also impose long-term effects on your gastrointestinal system and cause several gastric issues, such as bloating, gas, cramps, etc. Sometimes it also leads to acute conditions like diarrhea or an upset stomach.
If your abdomen feels different post taking honey, stop. And consult your doctor right away to understand what the underlying condition could be.
4. May Cause Allergic Reactions
Ingestion of raw honey can also give you mild to moderate allergies. This situation can get worse in those who are allergic to pollen grains.
It is the unprocessed nectar of flowers that may contain pollen, pesticides, insecticides, and lots of other chemicals (5). Its direct consumption can lead to the development of allergic symptoms like swelling, itching, inflammation, rashes, hives, puffiness, cough, asthma, wheezing, iritis, breathing troubles, difficulty in swallowing, and so on.
When faced with such allergies, mild or not, one should directly contact a health care expert.
5. Anaphylactic Shock
Eating raw honey and in larger doses can cause severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. It holds allergens in most cases, which generate a grave medical condition called ‘anaphylactic shock’.
This condition is characterized by whole-body allergy along with dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, hypotension, heart failure, etc. This is a serious side effect of honey as it can sometimes even lead to death.
If you frequently suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above even without taking honey, then you must consult a doctor asking if you can take honey at all. And if you see any of the symptoms after taking honey, visit your doctor immediately.
6. May Spike Blood Sugar Levels
If you want to keep your blood sugar level under control, limit your daily consumption of honey.
It is not only high in sucrose but also contains a large amount of glucose, which increases the blood glucose level marker – HbA1c in the blood. In other words, the sweet and thick solution raises the blood sugar level in your bloodstream, creating the condition for diabetes.
If you have issues with your blood sugar levels or are on diabetic medications,should take their doctor’s advice before going for honey. They will prescribe you a proper dose of honey that wouldn’t interfere with your medication.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure Level
Honey can lower the blood pressure level significantly, which sometimes may turn out to be bad for your health.
It consists of oligosaccharides which, being a certain kind of carbohydrate with antioxidant properties, can reduce elevated blood pressure level to a large extent. At times, the blood pressure level even goes below the average level, triggering a number of health issues.
So keep in mind your dose, and you will do fine.
If you blood pressure levels frequently fall down, honey may not be a good option. Avoid it.
8. Nerve Damage
This natural sweetener can also hurt your nerves.
Raw honey consists of a group of chemical compounds called ‘grayanotoxins’, which are poisonous to our nervous system. In general, these toxins are eliminated from the food during its pasteurization. But, when raw honey is consumed, they come into action and damage our nerve cells. As a result, it interrupts the normal activities of our nervous system.
Avoid honey if you have previously suffered from (or are suffering from) any kind of mental condition.
9. Weight Gain
Obesity is something that can ruin your overall health, and honey can be the culprit.
As honey contains calories in high amount, it contributes heavily to one’s body weight. Additionally, it holds simple carbohydrates in place of complex ones, which break down easily in the body as soon as it is consumed. As a result, the energy is piled up as body fat, and you end up gaining excess weight.
Always remember, honey can actually help burn fat if taken in moderation. Use lemon and honey water weight loss hack.
10. Tooth Decay
Just like sugar, too much of honey can harm your teeth.
According to researchers, honey is made up of 82% sugar (natural sugars – glucose and fructose). It means that one tablespoon of honey can give you almost 17 grams of sugar.
Consuming honey every day in large volumes can stimulate bacterial activities inside our mouth. Its consumption leads to tooth decay to a considerable extent.
If you want to maintain the health of your teeth and prevent oral cavity, try to keep your intake of honey under control.
11. May Cause Internal Bleeding
Honey should be avoided by people that have bleeding disorders or are taking drugs that may increase the risk of internal bleeding.
This natural substance should not be used with natural herbs and ingredients like Ginkgo Biloba, garlic and saw palmetto.
If you still want to try it out, consulting your healthcare expert is a desirable option. They will help adjust your medication in a way that it won’t cause any harm to your health.
Avoid honey if you are already on blood-thinning medications. Also, if you are suffering from any form of internal bleeding, avoid its use.
12. Drug Interactions
This natural sweetener should be used cautiously by those taking antibiotics, stomach or intestine medications, anticoagulants like warfarin, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, nervous system agents, heart medications, and weight loss supplementation.
Also, honey can heavily alter the regular process of drugs that use the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme. This may cause severe health issues.
If you are on antibiotics or any other drugs (anti-inflammatory drugs especially), avoid honey intake. Also, consult your doctor regarding the same.
13. Toxic Reactions
Honey that is produced from the nectar of Rhododendrons is known to contain certain toxins that may cause adverse reactions in the system.
This type affects the cardiovascular system directly, and cause low blood pressure, chest pain, and several other heart problems.
You probably must check the source of the honey before purchasing. If you have had reactions or allergies with its use in the past, consult a doctor before using it.
14. May Cause Infections
Honey might be appealing and tasty, but it should be avoided by those who have a weak immune system. It may increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infection in the body.
If you tend to have a weak immune system, avoid honey consumption.
Because honey can contain spores of Clostridium b0tulinum—the causative agent of botulism, an infection in infants—children less than twelve months old should not be fed honey. Due to their more mature digestive tract, honey is safe for children one year of age and older
Allergic reaction is the most common side effect from bee products. If you know you are allergic to honey, bee pollen, or conifer and poplar trees, do not use bee products. Allergic reactions can range from very mild, such as mild gastrointestinal upset, to more severe reactions, including asthma, anaphylaxis (shock), intestinal bleeding, and even death in people who are extremely allergic to bee products.
Honey contains small amounts of oxalates Individuals with a history of calcium oxalate- containing kidney stones should limit their consumption of this food.