For many, honey is a lot more than just a natural sweetener. The many health benefits of honey are both internal and external, which makes it a sweet medicine. As is the case with the various types of sugars, honey is composed primarily of simple carbohydrates, in other words, sugars. However, these are of a different chemical composition than that of common sugar.
Honey is unique in that it is a food between animal and vegetable in origin. Although the raw material used to make honey is of vegetable origin (flower nectar), animals predigest it: bees.
Health Benefits of Honey: Healing Properties
Honey is the subject of conflicting options among various groups:
- Some idealize it, attributing all types of healing properties to it
- Other’s view it with disdain, considering it nothing more than “expensive sugar.”
Taking the composition of honey into account, it can be concluded that:
- The numerous nutritional and bioactive substances, in addition to sugars, must affect the body in some way
- The fact that these substances are present only in small amounts is no reason to ignore them. There are continuous discoveries of new and unexpected beneficial effects of nutrients you can find in tiny quantities in foods, such as the plants’ phytochemicals.
Even though more study is needed, it seems reasonable to accept that there are plenty of medicinal uses of honey. Many distinguished physicians such as Dr. Ernst Schneider in Germany and Dr. Yves Donadieu in France already utilize honey’s medical benefits in their daily medical practice.
Honey can benefit children active in sports or other activities requiring high energy and those suffering from fatigue or exhaustion. If you take honey at the beginning of a meal, it can take away appetite.
WARNING: Honey is not for babies! Do not give honey to children younger than one year of age since it may:
- Provoke allergies
- Cause botulism. Although infrequent, this problem is a real risk. The bacterial toxin causing botulism is very potent, even more so than tetanus, and is almost always fatal.
A study carried out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that of 68 identified infantile botulism cases during two years in the United States, honey caused 16% (11 cases).
Honey Health Benefits: Therapeutic Uses
- Asthenia, either physical or nervous fatigue or exhaustion. Glucose is the neurons’ primary nutrition source. Also, it provides energy to muscle cells, particularly if it is accompanied by vitamins and minerals, as occurs with honey.
- Insomnia: Two tablespoons of honey augment the effect of any sedative infusion. Honey helps avoid muscle spasms and facilitates relaxed sleep.
- Constipation, due to its gentle laxative action, possibly due to insufficient fructose absorption.
- Infectious diarrhea: This condition is an excellent example of the benefits of honey water. Take three or four tablespoons of honey dissolved in water to help control infectious diarrhea associated with gastroenteritis caused by salmonella. Honey is also useful in infectious colitis cases, usually caused by Escherichia coli bacteria due to its antibacterial action.
- Respiratory issues: Honey acts as a gentle expectorant and natural cough suppressant. If taken regularly (20-30 g daily), it can help avoid asthma attacks in some cases, which is one of the many benefits of taking honey daily. You can attribute the pollen grains found in honey to desensitizing capabilities. They act as a type of vaccine.
- Inadequate liver function: Due to hepatitis, alcoholism, or other causes. The fructose found in honey promotes the production of glycogen in liver cells. This starch-like-substance stores energy.
- Placed directly onto the skin: The benefits of honey on skin promotes the healing of infected wounds, ulcers, and burns. When used as a gargle, it relieves pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and throat irritations.
What are The Health Benefits of Honey?
- Provides energy very rapidly. Its sugars do not need processing in the digestive tract; thus, they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream distributing energy to all the body’s cells.
- The health benefits of honey are responsible for small quantities of B group vitamins and minerals (calcium and phosphorus) that aid in the metabolism of sugars in the cells.
- Antiseptic: When applied to the skin or mucosa, it destroys pathogens due to its:
- Elevated sugar concentration, which inhibits bacterial development;
- Content of specific substances that destroy many pathogens such as the staphylococcus and the diphtheria bacillus.
- It does not deteriorate dental enamel: Even though honey has an acidic pH and is very rich in sugars, it does not attack dental enamel and does not promote cavities.
- There are medicinal properties of honey.
What Are the Side Effects of Eating Honey: Drawbacks?
- Botulism: Although there are many health benefits of honey, unfortunately, there are some drawbacks and side effects. Honey does not contain bacterial pathogens; however, it can contain spores of certain microorganisms such as Clostridium botulism. In favorable conditions found in the human intestine, these spores transform into pathogens, causing botulism. This problem generally occurs in infants due to their lower resistance level; therefore, honey is not beneficial for babies.
- Allergies: These may manifest themselves in various ways; itching in the mouth, digestive disorders, or even severe anaphylactic shock. This problem is due to the proteins secreted by the bee’s glands and the pollen grains in the honey.
- Diabetes: Even though honey is better tolerated than white sugar, you should use it cautiously.
- Toxic honey: Bees naturally avoid nectars from poisonous plants. However, there have been cases of honey containing stramonium alkaloids or glucosides from digitalis. The expertise and care of good beekeepers ensure that these cases are rare.
If you’re planning on eating honey every day, do not consume more than 50 grams because honey is a highly concentrated food. Also, try to eat it little by little to avoid digestive issues.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 1. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 160, 162, 164, 165. Print. [health benefits of honey]