Humans have consumed honey for thousands of years, not only for its delicious taste, but also for its powerful health benefits.
Ancient Egyptians would use honey to treat cuts and burns as well as a medicine. The oldest honeybee hieroglyph dates back to around 3000 BCE.
Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants. The exact composition of honey depends on the type of flowers around the hive of bees that produce it, and the time of year it is harvested. These factors affect both the medicinal properties of honey and its taste.
Every home in New Zealand should have a jar of honey in their medicine cabinet. The medicinal properties of honey make it suitable for several uses from soothing sore throats to healing burns.
Types of Honey
Most of the honey you can buy is harvested from commercial beehives. These hives are strategically located close to plants and trees of a certain type. As honeybees forage for nectar only a few km from their hive, you can be pretty sure that the honey in the hive is made up from the nectar of the plants that are found within a radius of approximately 3km. Some honey varieties that have powerful medicinal properties include:
Manuka honey is native to New Zealand and is not produced anywhere else in the world. It’s made from nectar from the flowers of the Manuka bush and is highly concentrated in compounds that have antibacterial and antibiotic effect.
This honey is made from the flowers of eucalyptus trees, is high in antioxidants and works as an anti-inflammatory. Eucalyptus is a common natural remedy for colds and headaches.
Dandelion honey is produced in New Zealand’s south island and has a strong taste and scent. Dandelion is a flower used in traditional medicines in China and India.
Linden honey is a popular natural remedy for sleep problems such as insomnia, and for promoting a relaxed state. It’s also commonly used for treating coughs and colds.
Jamun honey has a low glycaemic index, and studies have shown it may be helpful for people suffering from diabetes. It also has a naturally high nutritional level and contains several vitamins and minerals.
The Health Benefits of Honey
Honey, particularly Manuka honey is known both anecdotally and scientifically to offer several health benefits due to its antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Relieve the Symptoms of Coughs and Colds
Honey has been used as a treatment for coughs and colds for thousands of years, and it’s even recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as being an effective treatment for coughs.
Honey has no side effects, unlike many commercial cough and cold medicines, and so it’s safe to give to young children. Some studies have even found that honey is more effective than medicinal cough syrups. NOTE: Babies under 12-months old should not be given honey.
Honey lines the surface of the throat and helps to suppress coughs. Manuka honey and some other medicinal types of honey are also high in antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds, which may help your body to fight off infection.
Promote Healing of Cuts and Burns
Honey’s antibacterial properties make it an excellent salve for any kind of wound. Applying honey directly to a cut or burn can help to prevent infection and promote healing.
Manuka honey is considered particularly effective for treating burns and ulcers due to its high level of antibacterial agents, anti-inflammatory effects, and ability to enhance and speed up tissue regeneration. It can even inhibit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
However, it’s important to choose high-grade UMF honey for this purpose, as typical supermarket honey doesn’t have the same effect. Anything above a UMF 10+ will give you the best results, and the higher the UMF the faster it is likely to work.
You can use the table below to see which UMF grade should be used for what:
Relief From Allergy Symptoms
Many seasonal allergy symptoms present as similar to cold and flu, so it’s not too surprising that consuming honey can have a therapeutic effect. Manuka honey contains a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO), which has been shown to be effective at breaking down nasal mucus. Honey is also an anti-inflammatory and may help to regulate the autoimmune response; it may help to reduce allergy symptoms in the longer-term.
Lower Blood Pressure and Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Honey is naturally high in antioxidants, which are known to have a beneficial effect on health including improving eye and skin health, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and some kinds of cancer. Regular honey consumption may also help to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
For more information about how you can use honey to improve your health, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to provide further advice