As one of the oldest sweetener on earth, honey has many health benefits such as aiding weight loss, speeding the healing of wounds, and boosting energy level. It has a long history of use in medicine. The ancient Egyptians have used it in dressing of wounds. It is also used in Ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine in the treatment of various ailments such as ulcers, and skin burns.
Other names: Miele (Italian), Honing (Dutch), Mel (Portuguese), Honig (German), мед (Russian), Shahad (Hindi), Zuma (Hausa), Miel (Spanish, French), Oyin (Yoruba).
As a very popular household item, many use honey in place of refined sugar in their tea and drinks. Some even use it in place of their table jam to eat bread. The list of such edible uses is somehow endless. In fact, there’s no place in the world where you won’t find honey as a part of their diet.
Properties of honey
Find below the nutritional composition of honey per 100 grams (USDA) – A quick overview:
- Energy: 304 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 82.4 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 0.3 g
- Riboflavin: 0.038 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.024 mg
- Iron: 0.42 mg
- Water: 17.10 g
Here’s a quick list of some benefits and medicinal uses of honey:
- Wound healing
- Boosts energy
- Treats cough
- Prevents heart diseases
- Prevents cancer
- Fights acne
- Aids in weight loss
- Boosts immunity
Just a tablespoon of honey provides up to 64 calories. Consumption of this viscous substance can boosts your energy level in no time, as it contains sugars that can easily be converted into glucose, which your body can readily absorb.
This is one of the oldest and verified medicinal use of honey. It has been in existence for thousands of years in folk healing. This use has also been validated by many scientific researches.
Some researchers attributed honey’s wound healing effect to some properties it possess (1). They found it have anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Thus, it can be used in wound dressing to speed up healing.
This is also an age-long remedy, which has been backed by scientific researches. An interesting research proved the efficiency of honey in combating cough in children between the age of 2 to 18. They were treated with either honey, dextromethorphan, or no treatment at all (2).
The results interestingly put honey above the popular drug, dextromethorphan, in combating cough in the sampled children. Although both of them worked, and there was no significant difference in their action. The research further suggested the use of honey as a preferable treatment for cough and sleep difficulty associated with upper respiratory tract infection in children.
Note: Honey must not be given to children under the age of 1. This is because they have a very weak immune system, and giving them honey might result in botulism; a food poisoning that results in paralysis. But how? Spores of bacteria that cause botulism are found in dust and soil, and they eventually make their way into honey. However, honey is safe and considered harmless for the adults.
Prevents Heart diseases
Honey is rich in phenolic compounds such as quercetin, kaempferol, and galangin. This compounds are able to act as natural antioxidants in the human body. They have promising effects in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Many studies carried out on these compounds have attributed them to a reduced risk of heart disease (3). They found them to be:
- Anti-thrombotic; reduces blood cloth formation
- Anti-ischemic; improves blood supply to tissues
- Anti-oxidant; fights free radical formation
- Vasorelaxant; reduces tension in the blood vessels wall
Considering the above properties, consumption of honey in regulated amounts can help put you on tract in preventing heart diseases, and cardiovascular disorders in general.
According to WHO, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. What’s even more frightening are its treatment options: chemotheraphy and radiography, which are also dangerous to other non-cancerous cells of the body. That is why natural products for the treatment and prevention of cancer is encouraged these days.
Cancer is one disease you must avoid at all cost. You can do that by including wonder healing foods such as honey in your diet. A researched focused on evaluating the anti-cancer properties of honey attributed its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, antitumor necrosis, and immunomodulatory activities to its cancer prevention ability (4).
A study has found Manuka honey to be able to boost the immune system (5). It does this by stimulating cytokine induction. Also, you shouldn’t forget that honey is rich in antioxidants, which help boost our immunity by fighting free radical formation in our body.
As the most common skin condition, acne affects more than 50 million Americans yearly. The pimples and scarring associated with it can get you going nuts. If you are suffering from this condition, then honey can help a lot in getting you out of its bondage.
Dr. Axe gives us a popular home remedy to use honey as a facial cleanser in fighting acne. “Take half a teaspoon, warm between hands and spread on face gently, leave on for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water and pat dry.” he said.
For those wishing to get rid of some weight, substituting honey for your normal white sugar can aid your weight loss plans. There are many home remedies online for weight loss that recommend the consumption of honey with cinnamon or lemon juice to reduce body weight.