Honey-Nature’s Sweet, Golden Medicine For Skin and Health
Honey, the thick, soothing, nutrient-filled syrup that comes from nature. In addition to being the delicious treat you add to your tea or toast, it is also an incredible medicine that has treated issues ranging from burns to allergies to pimples for as long as humans have been using this natural elixir. Honey is a must-have in your home natural-remedy kit. This is the spoonful of sweetness and the medicine all in one!
Of course, not all honeys are equal. It is best to buy raw, unfiltered honey from a local source. Honey’s natural enzymes and nutrients are preserved in raw honey as they are not cooked off in the heating process used to create consistency and essentially sterilize honey for store shelves. Buying locally-harvested honey ensures the presence of small amounts of local pollen and steers clear of over-processed honeys that may contain undesirable additives, such as corn syrup. Tests done on honeys sold at well-known big-box stores have revealed trace amounts of antibiotics and heavy metals purportedly due to the addition of illegally imported honey. Ensuring that your honey comes from a good-quality source is essential.
The process of making honey is fascinating and underscores the value of this liquid gold. According to Mercola.com, “it takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey (1).” Honey is potent medicine resulting from nature’s hard work.
The medicinal properties of honey are numerous. In its unprocessed form, honey contains natural sugars, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. In general, the darker the honey the higher the antibacterial and antioxidant potential (Web MD). It releases hydrogen peroxide in certain environments, making it an effective antiseptic.
Manuka honey, honey that comes from the nectar of the Manuka tree native to Australia and New Zealand, is kind of a superfood with its impressive healing properties. It has been shown to kill off a wide variety of bacteria, including MRSA (Mercola). There is even some evidence that manuka honey can help stop the progression of cancer (Abstract on PubMed).
Benefits Allergies, Sore Throat and Cough
Honey is effective in soothing membranes and combating infections, thus it is great treatment for a sore throat and/or cough. In a study done on children, using honey to treat a nighttime cough had better results than common over-the-counter cough suppressants (WebMD). Add a teaspoon to a cup of warm water or tea, or take on its own, to alleviate cough or sore throat symptoms.
Locally-sourced honey carries tiny amounts of pollen from the area where it was harvested, nudging the consumer’s system to develop resistance to regional allergens. It is best to start building this resistance several months before the allergy season begins by consuming one teaspoon per day of honey (Mercola).
Honey is great for treating skin, both as a natural moisturizer for skin-health maintenance and as a treatment for wounds, burns, and irritations. It is particularly useful for people with sensitive skin who don’t tolerate harsher skin products well. It can be diluted with water or other soothing ingredients, such as Aloe Vera, for particularly sensitive cases.
For wounds, burns, irritations and scars
Honey soothes burns, including sunburns, and helps expedite healing. Honey is useful as an application to dressings for wound care, allowing them to be easily removed without irritating the skin further, and it rinses right off. It can be applied topically to treat the symptoms of herpes outbreaks, though it does not offer a permanent cure. Manuka honey is slightly more acidic than most honeys, which makes it great for healing with minimal burning or stinging, in fact the application of honey to a wound tends to feel soothing as well. Manuka honey has been successfully used to treat bed sores. For treating wounds, burns, and the like, gently spread a small amount on the affected area and leave on for at least 10 minutes, or cover and leave on for several hours.
Skin health maintenance
Honey is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture, thus it is a great addition to body products. It also soothes tissues, slows the development of wrinkles, and diminishes scarring. Its antibacterial properties help reduce and prevent acne, and it diminishes scarring caused by acne. A small amount of honey can be applied directly to pimples for about 10 minutes a day over a period of a few days, or as long as is needed.
To moisturize and support tissue health, spread about 1 teaspoon onto a clean face and leave on as a mask for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. It can be used on its own or combined with your other favorite natural mask ingredients (Dermatocare). Combine with an oil, such as coconut, jojoba, or Vitamin E oil, (about 1 teaspoon of each) to help scars heal and fade.
Add a teaspoon of honey to shampoo and/or conditioner to enhance hair’s moisture, add shine, and strengthen follicles. The moisturizing effects of honey help nourish the scalp, reducing dandruff and itchiness. Some sources recommend using honey mixed with water to help lighten and add highlights to hair, a result of the hydrogen peroxide byproduct of honey (Women’s Health).
Honey truly can be added to all of your skin and hair needs, enhancing your cleanser, scrub, mask, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner. It’s kind of bath-product super hero. Manuka honey can even be added to your mouthwash as it is effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, treats gum disease, and prevents tooth decay by killing off bacteria in the mouth (MyPennDentist).
Although it is perfectly safe for adults, honey should not be given to children under 1-year old. Spores of the bacteria botulism can be found in honey, due to the environmental dust that can make its way into honey. The immune system of babies is not developed enough to counteract this (WebMD).
While honey offers many health-enhancing benefits, it is still a sweetener containing fructose. Consume in moderation, and avoid consuming (or only do so under the guidance of a medical expert) if you have insulin-resistance.