Another 7 health benefits of honey
When it rains and you freeze, you rush home, eat a spoonful of honey and take a hot shower to stop the cold. But honey can be used on at least 7 different occasions.
Author: Yana Nencheva, Biochemist, PhD candidate in Biophysics
When it rains and you freeze, you rush home, eat a spoonful of honey and take a hot shower to стоп the cold. But honey can be used on at least 7 different occasions.
The sweet liquid produced by the honey bee is recognized ubiquitously for its beneficial effect on the body. Since ancient times in India, lotus honey has been used to treat eye infections. Since then, Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese have used it to treat intestinal diseases (incl. stomach ulcers). Today it is a means of increasing immunity, treatment for cough, sore throat, ears and much more.
What does honey contain?
Honey is the only food that does not have a shelf life, but what does it contain? Generally speaking natural honey consists of at least 181 ingredients. Honey is an oversaturated sugar solution, including:
80% carbohydrates - 38% fructose, 30% glucose, 12% other sugars,
0,5 % protein, enzymes, organic acids, minerals, amino acids, vitamins, phenols, aromatic compounds, polyphons and other components,
small amounts of bioactive components - phenolic acid, flavonoid α-tocopherol.
Honey is known for its antioxidant activity. For this, when scientists study it, they measure the content of ascorbic acid and the different enzymes in it (such as catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPO), superoxide dismutase (SOD)) [ref. 1].
1. Honey for faster wound healing
In alternative medicine honey is used for:
treatment of wounds,
Some apply it to the wound several times a day, burning and pinching can be felt at the beginning, which is considered normal. But does it really help, or is it just a myth?
Science explains the beneficial influence with its antimicrobial ingredients and research shows that it is not a universal healer, but gives good results in a very wide range of types of wounds.
Because of this, it can be included in a variety of pharmaceutical preparations in purified form in a certain concentration. Honey helps in healing, having a positive influence on the filaments that form when blood clots and, accordingly, lead to the "closure" of the wound.
Read more in the articles:
2. Honey for better oral health
It turns out that honey is useful in prevention against many diseases of the oral cavity:
mouth ulcers - inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth (stomatitis) can cause redness and swelling of tissues, accompanied by painful ulcers, where honey is very effective,
periodontitis - one of the causative agents is Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is a Gram-negative bacterium susceptible to antimicrobial activity of honey.
Read more in the article Bleeding gums - how to deal with the problem with natural remedies.
3. Honey may soothe pharyngitis and cough
Pharyngitis, either transient or chronic, is usually characterized by dry cough, red pharyngeal mucosa and secretions on its surface. The cause can be streptococcal, non-streptococcal infection, any seasonal viruses, bacteria and other irritants (chemical contaminants).
Here to help comes specifically manuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium). It is used to treat sore throat, as it has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. When ingested it covers the mucous membrane of the throat thus calmimg down irritation and killing harmful microbes.
The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of honey help soothe the throat. This improves sleep in both children and adults after taking it. It should not be overdone - about 2.5 ml is enough.
A study was conducted in which they compared the use of various natural products as an auxiliary therapy in the treatment of pneumonia. The conclusion is that mothers most often use honey + ginger.
Read more in the article Inhalation with herbs - for bronchitis, cough, red throat, runny nose and anxiety.
4. Homey may help with gastrointestinal problems
Honey contains enzymes that help absorb sugars and starch. As mentioned, it is an oversaturated sugar solution, in which sugar is in a form that can be easily absorbed by the body. With its consumption, we provide ourselves with certain nutrients such as minerals, phytochemicals and flavonoids that support digestive processes in the body [ref.6].
Scientists have studied the antimicrobial effect of natural pure honey on bacteria that cause diarrhea (Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enterocolitis and Shigella dysenteriae) in southwest Nigeria. It turned out that huney suppressed all but the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni.
So natural honey can be used to treat bacterial diarrhea if caused by these bacteria. It is important to note that honey can also irritate the intestines further if the initial problem of diarrhea is another. For this - a consultation with a doctor is needed!
Read more in the article Fermented foods - natural probiotics for good health.
5. Gastroesophageal reflux disease and honey
In many people, at least once a month, heartburn occurs. This is being called a reflux, and the condition is called Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The process of gastric acid entering back the esophagus is accompanied by a burning sensation in the chest or neck.
In some, it can manifest itself with coughing and vomiting. It is not normal for food to pass from the stomach to the esophagus, and usually this is hindered by a sphincter between these two "departments", which closes after the food once enters the stomach. GERD occurs when there is damage to this sphincter and gastric juices can burn the lower part of the esophagus.
Consumption of manuka honey also helps this condition, on the one hand by helping with digestion and on the other - by stimulating the restoration of tissues of the sphincter, the result is that the likelihood of acid reflux would be reduced. In any case, the condition should not be ignored, and most of all, consultation with the GP is necessary.
6. Dyspepsia, gastritis and peptic ulcer
Dyspepsia affects 40% of people [ref. 1] at some point in their life and patients very often resort to herbal treatment [ref. 2]. Gastritis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the gastric wall and is most often due to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is found in the stomach of 50% the population [ref. 3]. And peptic ulcer, contrary to the universal understanding that it is due to stress, in 90% of cases again is a consequence of the presence of Helicobacter pylori [ref. 4].
Honey can be used as an accompanying treatment of these conditions, because it successfully suppresses the growth of Helicobacter pilori. Clinical studies have shown that honey reduces the secretion of gastric acid, helping digestion. These are also reasons to take it as a dietary supplement during treatment.
Read more in the article Indigestion (dyspepsia) - causes, symptoms and treatment.
7. Metabolic and cardiovascular health
Honey intake showed a significant reduction in the risks of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. It helps balance vascular homeostasis by improving the lipid profile.
Flavonoids in honey improve coronary vasodilation, suppress low-density lipoproteins (so-called bad cholesterol or LDL), increase high-density lipoproteins (so-called good cholesterol or HDL) and improve endothelial functions.
Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors such as:
A study conducted to compare the metabolic response to honey shows its positive effects against metabolic syndrome. Polyphenols in honey reduce atherosclerotic lesions. A clinical study conducted on patients with hyperlipidemia showed that honey reduces total cholesterol [ref. 5].
Read more in the article Herbs for a healthy heart. Part I.
Bonus: Bee venom as a medicine
Bee venom has been used for more than 5,000 years for the treatment of various diseases. Today it belongs to alternative methods of treating rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and others.
The idea of using bee venom in the field of medicine is born out of the belief that beekeepers almost do not suffer from rheumatism or joint problems.
Treatment and prevention of diseases with bee products is called apitherapy. It relies on the use of honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and mainly bee venom, also called apitoxin.
More about the properties of bee venom read in the article Bee venom - anticancer and other beneficial properties.
- Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth, 2012, Nutrition & Metabolism
👩 🔬 Yana Nencheva is a molecular biologist, Master of Biochemistry and Master of Optometry, PhD candidate in Biophysics. She has been an active organizer of a number of events since 2015, including "PhD tea" and "Eye Health Seminar", which aim to promote science in the public space. She has been the manager and co-founder of the Center for Career Guidance in Natural Sciences ScienceUp since 2019.