For many millennia, humans have been ingesting honey just as much for its flavor as for its medicine. Modern medicine is now catching up and research is surfacing that the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and many of our other ancestral cultures were on to something golden and brilliant. Perhaps the saying should be, “A spoonful of honey keeps the doctor away!”
Honey as Medicine
For over 4,000 years honey has been one of the most important medicines in Ayurveda, both internally and externally. Egyptians used it topically as a way to heal wounds. Greeks ate it because they thought it made them live longer. It’s all true, but here’s some science to back it up.
When bees produce honey they add enzymes to it that makes it slightly acidic and essentially turns it into hydrogen peroxide. During the regurgitation process much of the water evaporates and this in combination with the enzyme process creates an environment where bad bacteria cannot grow, hence its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Honey is full of healthy microbes that do not create a stable environment for bad bacteria. It is also full of antioxidants.
Because of these factors, honey is proven to benefit numerous aliments. Are you ready? Take notes!
The Healthy Benefits of Honey
- Reduces seasonal allergies because it helps your system adjust to local pollen (see note on local, raw honey, below)
- Fights off free radicals that can lead to cancer and heart disease because of all the antioxidants
- Proven to help prevent and sooth acid reflux
- Use it topically to help heal wounds and burns
- Helpful in re-hydration because it contains many electrolytes
- Use it as a probiotic to help keep healthy amounts of good bacteria in your body which helps boost your immune system
- Contributes to maintaining healthy skin
- Fights eczema, canker sores
- Helps boost energy because it is full of carbohydrates
- Reduces morning sickness
- Soothes sore throats
- Slows down hair loss
- Reduces bladder infections
- Slows down arthritis
- Helps with upset stomachs
- Reduces bad breath
- Helps keep cholesterol levels balanced
There are so many other benefits especially when you combine honey with other medicinal substances, such as apple cider vinegar, goat’s milk, or lemon. The list goes on and on.
When It Comes To Honey, Raw and Local is Better
Raw, local honey not only supports your local farmers, but it also contains allergens and pollens from the area in which you live. Some suggest taking a spoonful of honey or two a day leading up to allergy season in order to gradually introduce allergens to the body and give it time to adjust. Honey from far away will not fight allergies as well as local honey. Much commercial honey doesn’t even have pollen in it because it is ultra-filtered, so it will have no effect on fighting allergies.
When honey is raw it contains more healing properties. It has more antioxidants, more minerals, more vitamins, more bacteria-fighting microbes, and more electrolytes. Raw honey is not heated like commercial honey, so less is lost and more is gained. Of course, be sure you get to know your local beekeeper so you are knowledgeable about their practices and can make an informed decision. Raw and local honey can be found at farmers’ markets, farm stands, select grocery stores, and more.
Last but not least, honey is a great preservative. You can make many medicinal tinctures. For those who don’t know, a tincture is a medicine made by extracting the healing properties of plants in either alcohol or honey.
More Honey Home Remedies:
- For obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol: drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5 to 10 drops of apple cider vinegar early in the morning daily. (Ayurvedic texts say honey scrapes fat and cholesterol from the body’s tissues.)
- To heal oral ulcers: apply 1 teaspoon honey and a pinch of turmeric to canker sores, mouth ulcers, or sores on the tongue. This mixture will generate saliva and draw out toxins; spit it out to speed the healing process. For internal ulcers, mix a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey twice daily.
- To heal a wound: dress it daily with sterilized gauze brushed with honey; dispose at night.
- For the common cold: mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 teaspoon honey and eat two or three times a day.
- To clear your sinuses: take a mixture of 1 teaspoon each of fresh ginger juice and honey two or three times a day.
- For nausea, vomiting, and/or indigestion: mix one part lemon juice with one part honey. Dip your index finger into this mixture and lick it slowly twice daily.
- For anxiety: drink 1 cup of orange juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder twice daily.
- For mild fever: make a tea of 1 teaspoon of holy basil (tulsi) and 1 cup of hot water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper powder and 1 teaspoon of honey. Take two or three times a day.
- To stop hiccups: mix 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon castor oil in a container. Dip your index finger into the mixture and lick it. Repeat every 10 minutes until your hiccups stop.
So thank you bees and thank you, local beekeepers, for keeping us sweet and healthy!
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Denise Dill is a co-op livin', garden diggin', homegrown cookin' fool who creates soups of song out of local ingredients. She's currently working as a baker and soup maker while she completes culinary school. In the past, she worked as an urban gardener and community cooking educator. She has also toured the country as a folk musician, opening for such acts as Pamela Means and Hamell on Trial.