Honey is a truly amazing substance in many ways. Did you know that it's the only food product harvested from insects? As well as being fantastic on toast or porridge, it is unique in providing a wide range of medical benefits stretching back into antiquity.
Preparation of medicine from honey; from an Arabic text dated 1224
It has been used historically as an external treatment for wound dressings, and has also been used to treat eczema and psoriasis as well as spots and blemishes on the skin. A spoonful of honey has also been recommended for thousands of years internally to combat sore throats, coughs and colds, as well as treating everything from dysentery to diabetes.
Many historic remedies and treatments have previously been discounted as being non-effective or even dangerous, but the sheer volume of evidence for the effectiveness of hive products including honey, propolis and beeswax have led scientists to reappraise these substances.
Honey & lemon is great for coughs and colds
In addition to confirming their effectiveness, scientists are now beginning to understand the underlying ways in which honey is able to treat so many different conditions. Here in the UK, the NHS now recommends honey as the best treatment for sore throats and coughs over and above chemist-bought cough remedies.
How does honey do it's job?
To the casual viewer, most honey is just a mixture of glucose and fructose sugars, but raw honey, carefully harvested and unadulterated, also contains a complex mixture of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, anti-oxidants (mostly flavonoids), minerals and even a group of recently discovered ‘friendly’ bacteria that make honey a multi-tasking power-house of goodness as described below;
- Because honey is composed mainly of glucose and fructose (two sugars that strongly attract water), honey has an astringent effect in that it draws out fluid from a wound, drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited.
- Being over 80% sugars by volume, honey also kills bacteria on contact through osmosis, literally pulling the water out of cells and killing them.
- Honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that, when combined with bodily fluids, produces a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which also acts as a mild antiseptic in and around the area to which it is applied.
- Honey has a PH of around 3.9 making it quite acidic (close to oranges and lemons). This also helps kill bacteria and other pathogens.
- Researchers in Sweden have recently discovered a group of thirteen different lactic acid bacteria present within honey that seem to be able to directly combat a number of human pathogens including MRSA that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. These lactic acid bacteria may also have an internal effect within the gut, helping to reinforce the natural balance of bacteria, combating dysentery and even irritable bowel syndrome.
- It’s thought that the pollens present naturally in honey may also help combat hayfever, by ‘priming’ the immune system through the year so that it does not overreact in the spring or summer.
What about Manuka Honey?
There has been a lot of press regarding the use of Manuka honey from New Zealand as a wonder treatment, as it has been shown to contain a specific anti-bacterial compound called methylglyoxal. However, there is great doubt as to whether the levels present in the vast majority of Manuka honeys sold in the UK are actually effective.
Manuka Honey from New Zealand
This is compounded by the recent scandal where New Zealand’s own Manuka association reported that it was producing only 1,700 tonnes of Manuka honey annually and yet we in the UK were consuming 1,800 tonnes a year — out of an estimated 10,000 tonnes of ‘Manuka’ honey consumed globally.
Buying local Honey
Please support your local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey bought either from a farm shop or directly from your local beekeeper or bee farmer.
Local honey can be good value too!
If you want the real thing, packed full of bee-based goodness, please avoid any honey sold in the supermarket that says ‘blended’, especially if it’s containing honey from outside the EU. Both China and India have been found to be substituting corn syrup for honey. So in this case British really is best!
Now you know about the healing power of honey, how about trying our multi-award winning Honey & Propolis Cream Cleanser?