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.
It is known as Honig in German, Miele in Italian, Shahad in Hindi, Miel in French and Spanish, Mel in Portuguese, ???in Russian, Honing in Dutch, and μελι in Greek; there is almost no part in the world where honey is not widely used and celebrated as a part of the cultural diet.
But what makes honey so popular? Most likely, it is the ease with which it can be consumed. One can eat honey directly, put it on bread like a jam, mix it with juice or any drink instead of sugar, or mix it with warm water, lime juice, cinnamon and other herbs to make a medicine. It is savored by all due to its taste as well as health benefits, making it extremely useful and versatile.
The health benefits of honey include the following treatments, taken from both traditional and modern medical experts.
Sweetener: Sugar can be substituted with honey in many food and drinks. Honey contains about 69% glucose and fructose, enabling it to be used as a sweetener that is better for your overall health than normal white sugar.
Weight Loss: Though honey has more calories than sugar, when honey is consumed with warm water, it helps in digesting the fat stored in your body. Similarly, honey and lemon juice as well as honey and cinnamon help in reducing weight. Read more about the benefits of honey in weight loss.
Energy Source: According to the USDA, honey contains about 64 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, honey is used by many people as a source of energy. On the other hand, one tablespoon of sugar will give you about 15 calories. Furthermore, the carbohydrates in honey can be easily converted into glucose by even the most sensitive stomachs, since it is very easy for the body to digest this pure, natural substance.
Improving Athletic Performance: Recent research has shown that honey is an excellent ergogenic aid and helps in boosting the performance of athletes. Honey is a great way to maintain blood sugar levels, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration after a workout, as well as regulating the amount of insulin in the body, as well as energy expenditure.
Source of Vitamins and Minerals: Honey contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. The type of vitamins and minerals and their quantity depends on the type of flowers used for apiculture. Commonly, honey contains Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. If you check the vitamin and mineral content in regular sugar from any other source, you will find it to be completely absent or insignificant.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties: Honey has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicines.
Antioxidants: Honey contains nutraceuticals, which are very effective for the removal of free radicals from the body. As a result, our body immunity is improved against many conditions, even potentially fatal ones like cancer or heart disease.
Skin Care with Milk and Honey: Milk and honey are often served together, since both of these ingredients help in creating smooth, beautiful skin. Consuming milk and honey every morning is a common practice in many countries for this very reason.
Honey in Wound Management: Significant research is being carried out to study the benefits of honey in the treatment of wounds. The Nursing Standard explains some of these benefits of honey in wound management in the document. These have been listed below:
The healing powers of honey are not overstated. The Waikato Honey Research Unit provides details about the world-wide research that is being carried out on the benefits of honey in medicine. Furthermore, BBCreported in July of 2006 that doctors at the Christie Hospital in Didsbury, Manchester are planning to use honey for faster recovery of cancer patients after surgery. Such research will provide scientific evidence for the so-called “beliefs” held by honey lovers all over the world and will help in propagating the benefits of honey to more people.
Now that you know the benefits of honey, how do you eat it? You can eat it raw, add it to water or different beverages and you can also add it to several recipes. Organic Facts has actually published an eBook on quick and easy honey recipes.
As mentioned above, there are numerous health benefits that can be gained from honey. It can be used as an antioxidant, it has antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it boosts athletic performance, and it is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Milk and honey are used by many for their skin care benefits. However, the benefits of honey that we get greatly depend on its quality. Not all honey is created equally, so quality is different, and subsequently, the various types do necessarily provide the same benefits.
Both the price and the health benefits of honey are dependent on its quality, so it has become very important for both honey manufacturers and consumers to understand the various factors that affect the quality of honey. Some of these factors include the type of flowers used in the formation of the honeycombs, the blending process, storage conditions, temperature of heating, and many more. These factors have been explained in more detail below:
Some people have the opinion that all honey available in the market is natural honey obtained from the wild. Others feel that honey production carried out on chemically sprayed farms cannot get contaminated with the pesticides sprayed on the crops and weeds.
However, the truth is that honey bees may also get affected by the extensive pesticide usage which goes on in the chemically treated farms. The issue is so severe that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, warned Barack Obama in May 2013 that if the excessive control of pesticides is not reduced, it could lead to a globally volatile situation as the bee population throughout the world becomes more and more affected. If pesticides can kill honey bees, how can they not affect the honey produced by these bees? Moreover, non-organic honey production involves extensive usage of antibiotics for disease control. It should also be noted that so far, there is no “scientific” proof that organic honey is healthier than non-organic honey.
Then why should you eat organic honey? Well, many people prefer to be cautious. Most of our decisions are based on our beliefs and conscience. Since organic honey production involves following stringent guidelines, people feel secure when they eat organic honey as compared to when they eat non-organic honey. Given below are some of the ways in which pesticide and antibiotic contamination of honey can take place:
Contamination of Pesticides in Honey
Honey can be contaminated with the pesticides sprayed on crops through one or more of the following ways:
Residues of Antibiotics in Honey
Conventional honey bees are given large doses of antibiotics to help protect them from diseases, but unfortunately, the honey also becomes contaminated with these antibiotics. In 2002, samples of Chinese honey were tested for the presence of antibiotics in Europe. Several samples were found to contain traces of antibiotics, which led to a ban on imports of Chinese honey in Europe. The ban was later removed in 2004 due to improvements in Chinese veterinary standards and imports of honey from China were resumed.
What leads to this antibiotics contamination? Unlike organic honey production, conventional honey production does not involve stringent guidelines for the quantity and mode of transmission of antibiotics to the honey bees. As a result, apiculturists have a free hand when using these antibiotics. When farmers use excessive quantities of antibiotics the chance of contamination increases.
What is the problem with residues of antibiotics being found in honey? The antibiotics given to the honey bees are veterinary antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, streptomycin and sulfonamides. Large doses of chloramphenicol administered into the human beings may cause cancer and aplastic anemia. Similarly, high doses of streptomycin and sulfonamides are harmful to the human body.
Many countries have not banned the usage of these harmful drugs in apiculture. The EU has banned all three while the US has thus far only banned chloramphenicol.