Honey is one of the oldest foods known to man, mentioned on cuneiform tablets back in 2,100 B.C., when written history began. Presumably, it was used way before then because bees have been busy producing their “liquid gold” for as long as they’ve been pollinating plants, which is a long, long time! But, while ancients valued honey as a natural sweetener, they also cultivated it for its amazing therapeutic properties, many of which modern man, in this age of instant, artificial, over-processed everything, is unaware.
We’re talking about raw honey, not the filtered, pasteurized product, ever smooth and liquidy, typically found in supermarkets, which has lost most of its healing powers in the heat of the manufacturing process. Raw honey is uniquely suited for medicinal and nutritional use because it never spoils. It may crystallize, but it never goes rancid. Heat it up and no matter how old it is, it will taste as it should and be effective in healing. Here are some of its many uses:
A nutritious, high energy food
Honey, made in the belly of the bee, having imbibed the heat of the sun and the fragrance and nectar of flowers, is highly tasty and nutritious – with natural sugars (glucose and fructose), rich in minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, iron and phosphate), vitamins (B1, B2, C, B6, B5, B3), trace elements (copper, iodine, and zinc) and amino acids, all of which can sustain life when other foods may be in short supply. It’s safe for young and old. The nutritional properties, color and flavor of honey will vary according to the types of flowers the bees pollinate.
Honey is a natural antibiotic used to heal wounds through centuries of wars by the ancient Greeks right up to World War II before the advent of penicillin and other drugs. During the Civil War there are accounts of amputated limbs being slathered with honey to protect against infection and promote healing.
Honey creates a moist healing environment that allows skin cells to re-grow across a wound flush with the surface of the wound, preventing deformity of the skin. Honey, with its acidic PH, also acts as an antiseptic agent – antibacterial and antifungal – helping to disinfect and speed the healing process in burns, abscesses, boils, scrapes, skin ulcers, etc. Try dabbing some daily on an open cut or bug bites to reduce swelling and pain and limit scaring. Studies have shown many honey-treated cuts and scrapes heal quicker than those treated with medicated ointments.
Easing the symptoms of a cold
Because of it’s anti-bacterial, as well as anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, a teaspoon of honey with lemon juice several times a day helps relieve a sore throat, cough or other general cold or flu symptoms.
Honey, which stimulates digestion and regulates the acidity of the gastric juices, is a valuable aid in cases of gastritis, stomach or duodenal ulcers. Try a teaspoon with the juice of half a lemon in a glass of (preferably warm) water. Taken early in the morning, this can also be effective in relieving constipation.
For minor stomach or sinus problems, mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of honey and stir in 1 cup of apple juice. This tastes like delicious apple cider.
A little daily honey strengthens the immune system, developing disease resistance in children. And you don’t have to cajole your kids to take it because they naturally like it! (This small daily dose is suggested for children older than 1 year; infants may have difficulty processing bacteria in some types of raw honey.)
To promote relaxation and help induce sleep, add a teaspoon or two of honey to a warm cup of milk and drink it just before going to bed. If you don’t drink milk, the honey may still help you sleep when mixed into a cup of caffeine-free, herbal tea, or even just warm water.
Add honey to the bath water to help relieve tension and insomnia (and keep skin soft and supple). About ¼ cup of honey to your bath should do. For an excellent baby bath: 4 tablespoons whole milk powder and 2 tbsp of honey dissolved in the warm bath water.
Gargling with a little honey mixed in a cup of water is very useful in gingivitis, periodontal disease, mouth ulcers, and other diseases of the oral cavity.
Dissolve honey in an equal amount of warm water. When cooled, apply as lotion or eye bath.
Honey is a humectant (it attracts and retains moisture) and is often used in soaps, cleansers and lotions to moisturize dry skin. Due to honey’s anti-bacterial nature, it can cleanse the skin’s surface as well as temporarily tighten the outer skin layers, so it acts as both cleanser and toner, while its rich supply of nutrients nourishes the skin.
Dry skin: mix 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. olive oil and 1/4 tsp lemon juice. Pat it on dry areas of your skin (face, elbows, hands, etc.), leave for 15 minutes and rinse with water. To make a moisturizing mask: 1 tsp honey, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tsp. almond oil and 1 tsp. whole yogurt. Apply on your face, neck and other parts of your body. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse off with water. You skin will feel moisturized and polished with tightened pores.
Summertime honey mask: when the humidity and/or pollution-prone city air is producing breakouts and oily or gritty skin, a honey mask is a good antidote. Simply spread a thin layer of honey over your face for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Honey scrub facial: 1 tablespoon honey mixed with 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. Rub gently into the skin and rinse with warm water.
For eczema, ringworm and other skin infections, apply regularly to the affected area
equal parts honey and cinnamon powder.
Honey, rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, is a wonderful beauty aid that nourishes the hair, as well as the skin.
Hair Conditioner: mix 2 tablespoons honey with 1/2 of a fresh avocado and 1 teaspoon coconut oil. Massage into hair and leave on for half an hour. Works well for dry and damaged hair. To give your hair lustrous shine, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into 4 cups of warm water. Use as a hair rinse. And if you’re a blond, add the juice of 1 lemon, too.
Hair Loss: massage into the scalp a paste of hot olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder. Keep on for approximately 15 min. and then wash the hair.
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A Little Bee Trivia
- Honeybees must tap over two million flowers to make one pound of honey, flying a distance equal to more than three times around the world.
- The average worker bee will make only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime.
- Honey was often used as a form of currency, tribute, or offering. In the 11th century A.D., German peasants paid their feudal lords in honey and beeswax.
- Legend has it that Cupid dipped his love arrows in honey before aiming at unsuspecting lovers.