10 Health Benefits of Honey

Image: Sonia Langford
Image: Sonia Langford

Throughout history, honey has been used as an ayurvedic medicine for all kinds of bodily woes. The Egyptians treated wounds with it, the Greeks believed that eating it lead to a longer life, and the Prophet Mohammed hailed it for its healing properties. More recent exploration of the benefits of honey suggests our ancient ancestors weren’t just making things up – there really is something more to be said for honey than its taste alone.

  1. Honey is packed full of nutrients – small doses of several vitamins and minerals including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, zinc, and potassium call honey home, so when used like-for-like nature’s nectar ranks way above sugar on the nutrients-for-calories scale.

  2. If you’re prone to gulping your dinner down quicker than you should, the best option would be to slow down. For a short-term fix, however, honey could help you out. The antiseptic properties of honey help relieve acidity levels in the stomach, and neutralises gas to soothe indigestion and ease discomfort. Swallow one or two tablespoons of honey before a heavy meal, but if you’ve already done the eating then add honey to warm lemon water to help the food on its way.

  3. Lots of people are certain that eating locally produced honey helps relieve their allergy symptoms. Whilst there isn’t currently evidence to back up the idea, some experts say that honey can contain traces of flower protein and small amounts of allergens can be used to treat the symptoms.

  4. Had a heavy night? Honey’s good for that! The NYU Langone Medical Center says that swallowing a little honey might “increase the body’s ability to metabolize (sic) alcohol, thereby limiting intoxication and more rapidly reducing alcohol blood levels.”

  5. You’re trying to drop a little body fat, so sugar is off the menu – or so you thought! Drinking warm water with lemon and honey before eating breakfast in the morning is a key part of many detox programmes. Incorporate this into your daily routine to cleanse the liver, push out the toxins, and flush away fat. Get our recipe for fresh lemon ginger tea, and add honey for additional benefits.

  6. Put down the sports juice, and get yourself a real energy drink. With 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon of the bees’ produce, honey is a great, natural source of energy with added nutrients. Add honey to your water during workouts, and chow on honey-full energy snacks pre- and post-workout.

  7. Honey has shown its wound-treating abilities more than once – In one Norwegian study, Medihoney (a therapeutic honey which is specially purified) and Norwegian Forest Honey were found to kill any bacteria found in wounds. In another study, patients with wounds and leg ulcers (80% of which had failed to heal with conventional treatment) were treated with unprocessed honey, and all bacteria were eliminated until healing. Ulcers were sterile within a week of application. According to WebMD, honey should be applied directly or as part of a dressing and should be changed every 1-2 days. Used directly, 15 ml to 30 ml of honey is applied every 12-48 hours, and covered with sterile gauze and bandages or a polyurethane dressing.

  8. It isn’t just wound-afflicting bacteria that honey can wrestle with – in clinical studies, medical grade honey has demonstrated its ability to kill bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, as well as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

  9. As soothing for your throat as for your tummy, honey is the medicine of choice when those wintry rattles come around again. The natural antibacterial properties of honey combined with its thick, coating texture makes it ideal for softening a hard cough.

  10. Not only does honey make you feel good, but it can help you look amazing too. Thanks to its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, honey is a great, organic skincare product. Put a little raw honey onto a blemish and leave it overnight. Wash off in the morning, and with regular use you’ll wake up with clearer skin than you’ve ever known! You can also try it out on your head if you have dandruff or on skin which suffers from eczema or other dryness. Whilst honey won’t cure the conditions, it is a wonderful moisturiser and will soothe any associated itching. Unlike many skincare products which contain a load of dangerous chemicals, honey is just as the bees intended it to be.
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