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Honey is one of our oldest, energy-dense food stuffs and has unique medicinal properties. It's mentioned in the earliest of both Sumerian and Egyptian writings for its healing properties.
The earliest medical texts recommend honey as an essential treatment to successfully heal wounds and many other disorders including dysentery. Today it's used extensively by vets to treat cuts and grazes in animals and by the NHS to treat ulcers and bed sores as well as being recommended as the best treatment for minor coughs and sore throats.
So we know it works, but it's only been in recent times that science has been able to prove and explain the benefits that honey provides and it turns out that it's largely to do with bringing balance to our bodies microbiome. This is the family of friendly and sometimes not so friendly bacteria that make up around 2-3kg of our body weight, living largely in our gut but also covering our skin protecting us from infection and disease.
Studies into the human microbiome are a hot research topic at the moment and it’s clear that the health of our microbiome impacts not just the health of our gut, but also everything from our immune system to our mental health and the state of our skin, which like the rest of our body contains a balance of different bacteria that work together to keep us healthy.
Various skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne etc seem to be linked to an imbalance in our skin biome where the growth of bad bacteria and the toxins they produce have a direct impact on our skin, leading to redness and breakouts where the various bacteria, yeasts and other skin living organisms are fighting each other. Using aggressive anti-bacterial soaps can kill off both good and bad bacteria, clearing the space for another battle and associated flare-up.
Certain strains of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, are only found on or near the skin close to areas of rashes, dermatitis and eczema. It produces toxins that trigger and stimulate mast cells in the skin, triggering inflammation and in some cases turning the body's immune system against itself.
Honey is comprised of more than 180 substances including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and oligosaccharides which help sustain and support various "good" bacteria to balance against bad toxin-producing bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Its PH level (similar to lemon juice) and its ability to produce small quantities of hydrogen peroxide when exposed to broken skin, alone with its high sugar content, also help suppress the "baddies" in wounds and breakouts. The oligosaccharides help to feed the beneficial, probiotic bacteria residing in the human gastrointestinal tract and on the surface of the skin such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
As beekeepers, we've used our own honey applied directly to cuts and grazes as well as for teenage spots and breakouts and apart from the obvious stickiness, it works extremely well. This is what originally inspired us to create a range of naturally focused skincare utilising honey, beeswax and propolis.
Honey is one of Nature's greatest healers. It's both antiseptic and soothing and is superb at nourishing and moisturising the skin. Honey is also full of antioxidants, ideal for combating damage to the skin. These compounds inhibit oxidation and are extremely beneficial in helping minimise signs of ageing.
Beeswax is a natural emollient reducing water loss from the skin and acts as a shield against the elements. It's therefore great for dry, chapped skin on the lips, hands and heels but is effective anywhere on the body. Because of its soothing nature, Beeswax is often used in products for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. As it's totally natural the chances of irritation are much lower so it's perfect for sensitive skin.
Propolis in its simplest terms is a brown, sticky substance starting as a mixture of tree resins collected by the bees and processed by them before being stored within the hive and used to reinforce their beeswax combs. Propolis contains a huge variety of minerals and nutrients with over 300 active compounds many of which can be very beneficial for your skin. This includes everything from antioxidants such as ferulic acid and flavanoids to vitamins C, E and zinc. The antioxidants mop-up harmful free radicals that can lead to cell and tissue damage, and also decrease potential inflammation, a key sign of ageing in skin. Antioxidants can also help combat the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the two proteins responsible for keeping skin looking firm, healthy, and youthful.
We have our bees to thank for these three skin saviours. You can experience how effective they are in our honey skincare where we've combined them with plant botanicals and other naturals to help protect and nourish your skin.
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