Honey has been used by countless cultures all around the world over the past 2,500 years. While the numerous health benefits of honey have made it an important element of traditional medicines such as Ayurvedic treatments, scientists are also researching the benefits of honey in relation to modern medicine, particularly in the healing of wounds.
The ancient Greeks believed that the consuming honey could help make you live longer. Here are amazing health benefits of honey.
Health Benefits of Honey
The health benefits of honey include the following treatments, taken from both traditional and modern medical experts.
1. Honey for Treating Allergies
There is some research to suggest that honey may be useful in minimizing seasonal allergies. The Guardian reported that honey even ‘beats cough medicine’ at alleviating and reducing the frequency of cough.
One placebo-controlled study which included 36 people with ocular allergies, found that participants responded better to treatment with honey compared to placebo. However, a third of them reported that eating a tablespoon of honey every day was hard to tolerate due to its overly sweet taste.
2. Increases Athletic Performance
Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners.
Some varieties of honey possess large amounts of friendly bacteria. This includes up to 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria. This may explain many of the “mysterious therapeutic properties of honey.”
4. Honey Fights Infections
In 2010, scientists from the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam reported in FASEB Journal that honey’s ability to kill bacteria lies in a protein called defensin-1. A study published in the journal Microbiology revealed that Manuka honey is effective at treating chronic wound infections and may even prevent them from developing in the first place. Dr. Rowena Jenkins and colleagues, from the University of Wales Institute, reported that Manuka honey kills bacteria by destroying key bacterial proteins.
5. Boosts Memory
According to research reported by Reuters, 102 healthy women of menopausal age were assigned to consume 20 grams of honey a day, take hormone-replacement therapy containing estrogen and progesterone or do nothing. After four months, those who took honey or hormone pills recalled about one extra word out of 15 presented on a short-term memory test. That said, some critics of the study say that it wasn’t scientifically sound because it was small and didn’t last long.
6. Potentially Prevents Low White Blood Cell Count
The Mayo Clinic notes that honey may be a promising and inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy. In one small trial, 40 percent of cancer patients who were known to be at risk of neutropenia (very low blood count) had no further episodes of the condition after taking two teaspoons daily of therapeutic honey during chemotherapy. More research is needed, but the remedy could hold great potential.
7. Boosts Immune System
Raw, organic honey is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes which protect the body from bacteria and boost the immune system. Cold and flu symptoms, such as coughs, sore throats, and congestion are also kept at bay when treated with honey. To improve your immune system, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey to warm water daily. For an extra boost, add fresh lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon.
8. Weight Loss Benefits of Honey
Drinking warm water with lemon and honey on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, is the main component of many detox programs. Doing this on a daily basis is one of the best ways to cleanse the liver, remove toxins, and flush fat from the body.
For optimal benefits, add 1 tablespoon of honey plus the juice of one lemon to warm water every morning before breakfast. This is a very soothing and satisfying drink to end the day with, as well.
9. Cardiovascular Benefits of Honey
Cardiovascular risk factors are reduced with pure, unprocessed honey. When compared to a control group using sugar, honey reduced total cholesterol (3%), LDL-C (5.8), triacylglycerole (11%), FBG (4.2%), and CRP (3.2%), and increased HDL-C (3.3%) in subjects with normal values, while in patients with elevated variables, honey caused reduction in total cholesterol by 3.3%, LDL-C by 4.3%, triacylglycerole by 19%, and CRP by 3.3%. Additionally it does not increase body weight in overweight or obese subjects.
Honey mixed with cinnamon has been shown to revitalize the arteries and veins of the heart and reduce cholesterol in the blood by up to 10%. When taken on a regular basis, this honey-cinnamon mixture may reduce the risk of heart attacks and stop another from occurring in people who have already suffered one. Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey with 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon to warm water, then drink daily.
10. Resolves Scalp Problems and Dandruff
In a study involving patients with chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, the participants were asked to apply honey diluted with 10 percent warm water to their problem areas and leave it on for three hours before rinsing with warm water. In all of the patients, itching was relieved and scaling disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were completely healed within two weeks, and patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss as well. And when applied weekly thereafter for six months, patients showed no sign of relapse.
11. Skin Health Benefits of Honey
Honey can be used as part of a dry skin regimen because its composition is described as a humectant. A humectant is an item or substance that attracts moisture and keeps in locked inside. Using a honey-based facial mask proves beneficial to areas of skin that tend to become dry or itchy because it lends moisture to these areas. People have oily skin can benefit from honey as well; the sweetener can help your skin retain moisture and elasticity without drying it out, as some conventional facial washes may do.
12. Honey Treats Coughs
Several studies have found that honey is a far more effective remedy for coughs compared to many over-the-counter cough medicines. Honey has strong antibacterial properties that help soothe sore throats and kill the bacteria that cause the infection.
To get quick relief from coughing, mix one tablespoon of honey with some fresh-squeezed lemon juice and drink this solution at regular intervals. You can also mix honey, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a glass of lukewarm water and use it to gargle. For cough treatment, it is recommended to use buckwheat honey over other types of honey.
13. Anti-Aging Benefits of Honey
Honey reduces oxidative stress. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in contributing to the processes of aging and disease. Humans protect themselves from these damaging compounds, in part, by absorbing antioxidants from high-antioxidant foods. Test subjects fed buckwheat honey showed an increase of phenolic antioxidants. The regular use of honey as a sweetener in common foods could result in an enhanced antioxidant defense system in healthy adults.
14. Honey Beats Insomnia
Many people have trouble sleeping. Honey is a simple solution for this problem. Honey is a fat-digesting carbohydrate that stimulates the release of insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain easily.
Tryptophan is the compound that makes us sleepy. Simply have a glass of warm milk with honey before going to bed. Both honey and milk are tryptophan-containing foods.
15. Reduces Metabolic Stress
An adequate glycogen store in the liver is essential for brain fuel during the night fast and during prolonged exercise. Without sufficient glycogen, the brain triggers the release of stress hormones – adrenalin and cortisol – in order to convert muscle protein into glucose. Repeated metabolic stress from cortisol produced in excess when there are less than optimal liver glycogen stores during sleep, leads over time, to impaired glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, diabetes and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, some forms of cancer, and several neuro-degenerative conditions. All are conditions associated with increased oxidative stress.
16. Promotes Wound Healing
On the medical side of skin care, honey as a wound dressing can help promote healing and prevent infection due to its natural antimicrobial properties. According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, the chemical makeup of honey, largely sugars, has what is described as “high osmolality.” High osmolality when referring to honey means that the sugars interact with water in such a way that microorganisms cannot develop. In addition to the osmolality of honey, when the sweetener comes in contact with wound exudates–fluids that weep from sores or ulcers–hydrogen peroxide is produced. The creation of the hydrogen peroxide can provide antibacterial benefits to ulcerated areas, which speeds healing.
17. Anti-Cancer Benefits of Honey
Honey has been shown to be effective in controlling tumor growth and metastasis. Honey has potential to become a supplement for cancer therapy. In a paper given by Dr. Nik Soriani Yaacob (Malaysia), Associate Professor in the School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) at the 2nd International Conference on The Medicinal Use of Honey 2010 Malyasia, studies show that Tualang honey (from Malaysia) had anti-cancer qualities and significant cytotoxic effect (death of cells) on cancer cells cultured in the lab. Other phytonutrients such as caffeic acid esters contained in propolis and honey also exhibit anti-cancer properties.
18. Honey Protects Against Damage
Honey is a natural antioxidant, which proves beneficial when taken internally, but it also provides protective benefits when used topically on the skin. Antioxidants can protect internal organs from a type of damage called oxidative stress, which can lead to better overall health in some cases. The Skin Care Resource Center reports that current research has determined the effectiveness of honey as a natural form of suncreen, to protect the skin from sun damage such as premature wrinkling, a condition that in some people can lead to skin cancer.
19. Fights Acne
Honey benefits to rescue those suffering from chronic acne. It plays a crucial role in the treatment of acne. Acne is caused by the build-up of oil and dirt on skin. Since honey absorbs impurities from the pores on the skin, it acts as an ideal cleansing agent. Honey is also a natural antiseptic, and soothes and heals your skin. It is often used to get rid of pimples.
When you buy honey, make sure you buy raw honey. Raw honey gives better results than regular honey as it has all its beneficial values intact because it is unfiltered. Organic honey can also be a great alternative.