Honey – one of the world’s oldest medicines – was known only as a sweetener for centuries. It was so precious that ancient Egyptians used it as a form of currency, which is not surprising when you consider that it takes 300 bees about three weeks to gather 450g of the golden liquid!
Honey has been used as medicine in traditional African healing for centuries and also features in ancient traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurveda and Mayan shamanism. The past few decades have seen it subjected to clinical investigations, which has made it even more popular in modern medicine.
This essential pantry staple is best when raw – as it exists in the beehive, not pasteurised. To achieve this, the honey is strained straight from the hive using a filter to separate the golden liquid from debris like pollen and beeswax. Most varieties found in supermarkets has been processed, usually through pasteurisation, which involves intense heating and may even contain added sugar. This is a vital distinction in honey, especially if one is interested in its healing properties.
Healing properties that are mentioned in most studies are derived from the elements found in raw honey, which include bee pollen, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as vitamins and minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants. Its anti-bacterial and healing characteristics make it a great natural remedy for many common health problems, like:
Sore throats and coughs
Mixed in tea or lemon water, honey soothes sore throats and on its own acts as a cough suppressant.
Wounds, cuts, and burns
It can be used for dressing chronic wounds, for cleansing and tissue regeneration.
Oral administration treats and protects against gastrointestinal infections.
Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is claimed that honey retains moisture in the skin which helps in healing.
The physical properties of honey vary depending on the specific flora that was used to produce it, so be sure to find “raw” honey directly from your local beekeeper. Some studies have also raised the importance of consuming locally-produced foods like honey to benefit from its healing properties.
What is sad is that over the past several decades, colonies of bees have been disappearing. Known as ‘colony collapse disorder’ billions of honeybees across the world are dying. Honeybees contribute significantly to the sustainability of the eco-system – in farming areas and the urban environment. What we can do to support the bees is plant flowers rich in nectar, especially blue and purple ones, like lavender.