honey for health

Cuts and burns, skin problems and stomach complaints, hayfever and allergies. It seems an unlikely claim that one natural product can help alleviate all of these conditions and that the answer is to be found, not at the pharmacy, but at the grocery store. But this is what studies tell us about the natural properties of honey.

Browse the condiments aisle of any moderately-sized supermarket and there will be an appetising variety of honey. Golden and sweet, our favourite childhood characters ranging from Pooh Bear to the Honey Monster have long encouraged us to eat it. However, honey is more than just a tasty addition to our breakfast toast. People of the ancient world knew honey better as a medicine than as a food and modern science is showing us why.


Wounds

Soldiers in Ancient Rome used to carry honey in their packs to treat the burns and wounds received in battle. It seems they were right to do so. Honey is a powerful antibiotic and a beehive is the most sterile environment known in nature. Honey can destroy disease bacteria. Researchers have found that wounds become sterile when honey is applied and that it speeds up the healing process by promoting new tissue growth. This knowledge has revived interest in using honey to treat burns and wounds and research at Waikato University in New Zealand has proved it to be extremely effective.


Stomach problems

In fact, it is from New Zealand that we get one of the world’s most antibacterial honeys. It comes from the “Manuka” or New Zealand Tea Tree and the Maori people have a long tradition of its use as a medicine. Scientists have proved that Manuka honey is effective in treating the infection “helicobacter pylori” (believed to be responsible for chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers.) The soothing qualities of honey are also believed by many to alleviate more minor stomach disorders.

Read more about research by Welsh scientists into manuka honey via this link.


honeycomb

honeycomb

Hayfever

But honey has other medicinal qualities. As summer approaches, for many people it brings with it the misery of hay fever. For centuries, honey has been used to alleviate these distressing symptoms. It works on the principle of desensitisation. In other words, eating honey is said to build up a natural resistance to pollen. Because of this, many people suggest that local honey is best as it will contain the local pollens which cause the allergic reaction. Many hayfever sufferers have found that taking honey, particularly in the form of honeycomb, markedly reduces their symptoms, although this treatment should be started before the hay fever season commences and be continued over a long period to have the best effect.


Cosmetics

The gentle healing properties of honey make it ideal for use in natural cosmetics. Honey is a ‘humectant’. In other words, it acts as a natural moisturiser. Beeswax, too, is excellent for softening the skin. So, for example, a hand cream which contains both ingredients is both gentle and very effective. Honey can also be used as a face mask, which is particularly effective for dry or weather-beaten skin.