Understanding the nutritional and medicinal value of honey

Honey has been used in beauty regimes of women across the world. But did you know that honey also has therapeutic uses? Honey is an antimicrobial and can ward off bacterial attacks. It's used to relieve symptoms of peptic ulcers and as a dressing for wounds. Let's find out what else can honey do?

Honey is often touted as a wonder food, but despite the tall claims honey is very low in nutritional content. Though, this fact doesn't take away from honey, its medicinal value. Honey is largely sugar, basically glucose and fructose with trace amounts of sucrose. A few varieties of honey might provide negligible amounts of vitamin C and B complex. Honey does have antioxidants (polyphenols), but then, they're not comparable to the antioxidants available in most veggies and fruits.

There are hundreds of varieties of honey in the world, and each type has a unique colour and flavour. These depend largely on the flowers that the bees get their nectar from. One varietal of honey is possible only when bees gather the nectar from one type of blossom, as in the case of the Manuka honey.

It's a myth that honey is lower in calories than sugar. The truth is that a teaspoon of sugar has approximately 46 calories, as compared to the same amount of honey, which has about 64 calories. So, volume for volume, caloric numbers of all honey is disappointing. Honey can also get contaminated, with spores and pose dangers, especially to infants. That being said, honey is not all bad. Honey has for centuries been a good source for quick energy and for its medicinal properties. It is recognised as a strong antimicrobial agent and for its property to rapidly heal wounds. Don't let the facts presented here put you off. There is a lot more to honey as explained below.

What is honey good for

Did you know that honey is also an amalgam of propolis and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)? Propolis is found naturally in nectar, and it's known to destroy bacteria. Combined with H2O2, honey becomes a powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and an antifungal agent, potent enough to combat many health conditions. A number of herbal or all natural antiseptic creams contain honey. Some pharmaceutical companies overseas, market honey-infused surgical tapes, for quicker and effective healing of wounds.
  • Sore throat

    Ayurveda, the Indian medicinal system recommends honey as a cure for sore throat. One tbsp. of honey mixed in half a cup of warm water, can soothe a tickly throat. A tbsp. a spoon of honey to which the juice of an inch long ginger piece is added can help relieve symptoms of both a dry cough and cough with phlegm. A sore painful throat can benefit from sipping on honey mixed with warm water and the juice of half a lemon. Laryngitis, another infection of the throat can be cured by drinking a combination of 2 tsp. onion juice and 1 tsp. honey, every three hours
  • Heals wounds

    Honey as explained earlier has antibacterial properties. Therefore, uncontaminated honey (preferably obtained from a reliable source) can be applied on open wounds, to kill offending bacteria and help the wound heal better and faster
  • It's a laxative

    Honey can help with constipation. Drinking a warm glass of water to which 2 teaspoons of honey and the juice of half a lemon are mixed, can help regulate motions
  • Lessens ulcer pain

    Individuals suffering from stomach ulcers can find relief by consuming a tsp. of honey every 3-4 hours. Honey has properties that soothe the ulcers and subsequently ease the pain
  • It's an energy source

    Since honey is partially digested by the bees, the sugars are broken down, which means it is easier to digest. This makes it a good source of energy and is endorsed by fitness experts for its ability to bolster and strengthen drained-out muscles. There is some research to prove that the performance of athletes is enhanced when they consume honey

The science behind honey's success in healing wounds

Honey seems to have all the right compounds that make it a good wound healing agent. Apart from what's already been mentioned, the sugars in honey also help with the healing process. The high content of sugar in honey makes it a drying agent. The sugars draw the moisture away from the wounds, causing the wounds to dry. And since bacteria thrive only in a moist environment, the scope of bacterial infection is removed.

Additionally, applying honey on open wounds creates a protective sheath that prevents outside contaminants from infecting the wound.

Healing burns with honey

Honey, especially Manuka honey, that comes bees in New Zealand, has special healing powers. When honey is used to dress burn injuries it is known to alleviate pain and heal the wounds faster. The skin tissue rejuvenates itself and the scarring is drastically reduced.

Honey and conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis or the Madras eye or the pink eye can be treated with honey. The remedy involves putting 1-2 drops of honey in the affected eye, 3-4 times a day. Alternatively, 3 tbsp. of honey can be mixed with boiled and cooled water, and the water used as an eyewash. The antibacterial property of honey heals and soothes the eye.

Honey treats stomach ulcers

Honey is said to lessen symptoms linked to stomach ulcers when ingested. Its anti-inflammatory properties act on the internal wounds reducing pain and the healing time. Honey enhances blood flow in the region and stimulates the growth of epithelial cells that line the inner walls of the intestines and the stomach. Honey also kills the bacteria that cause ulcers.

Honey is an all-in-one first-aid kit

Honey is packed with healing powers. There is so much this one ingredient can do –

  • Apply honey on the skin to get relief from sunburn
  • Shingles is a painful viral infection that can be treated by combining vinegar and honey and applying on the affected area
  • Oily skin can be treated by applying a pack consisting of 1 egg white, mixed with 1 tsp. honey and half a tsp. of oatmeal. Applied on the skin and left to dry, before washing off can control oily skin
  • Insomnia can be treated by drinking a cup of warm milk to which a tbsp. of honey and a big pinch of cinnamon powder. This can get you the Zzzzs in a jiffy
  • Hiccups can be stopped by adding honey to a cup of warm water and gulping it down
  • A hangover can be cured by drinking a banana smoothie to which honey is added or eating a light meal consisting of fruits and honey. The fructose in honey works and the hangover disappear
  • Topical application of honey three to four times a day can cure athlete's foot
  • Hay fever or allergies can be combated by eating 2 tbsp. honey each day, starting 2 months preceding the allergic season

Honey as a beauty agent

When it comes to beauty, honey is a multipurpose ingredient. It can be applied to the skin directly or in combination with other ingredients. Any which way, the results are remarkable –
  • It makes an excellent hydrating mask, and is a natural moisturiser
  • When applied to the skin, it leaves it soft and supple
  • Honey is an excellent skin cleanser, and can remove oil and grime from the skin and pores
  • It lightens age spots and repairs skin damage
  • It removes tan and soothes sunburned skin
  • Acne causing bacteria is also destroyed when a mix of honey and nutmeg powder is applied regularly, on the affected body part

Which honey has the best medicinal values

That the thick, golden, viscous and sweet liquid has remarkable healing properties cannot be refuted. However, not all honey is potent. The best honey is one that is non-pasteurised. The pasteurising process neutralises most of the active bacteria-fighting compounds present in honey. When buying honey, get one that is as close to its natural form as possible.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: K Mohan21 Mar 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

The author has nicely presented the medicinal value of honey and its great usage in our daily life. What I like the most about honey is its property to heal the upset stomach very quickly. Normally when children indulge in over eating at a late night party or function, next day they would surely complain about stomach upset and even avoid going to school. The best way to stop stomach upset or loose motions is to add two spoons of pure honey in warm water and ask the child to drink. The stomach pain and upset would vanish. And for those who are obese, taking honey daily with some warm water would take out the extra fats.

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