Honey is about as basic as it gets. We all remember our mothers telling us to take a spoon of honey, because it’s good for health, and as it usually happens mom was right. Honey possesses a wide range of really beneficial effects, which includes:
- Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
- Reduces cough and respiratory irritation
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Improves sleep quality
- Helps the blood
- Good for burns
- Good for cuts
Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits
Honey as an antibacterial/antifungal: Honey promotes antibody production, which in turn helps to fight infection. Also, honey helps to treat wounds. In one study they found that out of 59 leg ulcer patients, only 20% of them had responded well to allopathic treatments. When the other 47 where put on honey treatment, all but one responded well! 1
Honey Helps Sugar Levels in the Blood: There is some confusion over the topic of honey and blood sugar levels, with some people feeling it is bad for sugar levels, while others feeling that it helps sugar levels. In actual fact honey is a sugar; each 100gram bottle of honey contains 80% sugar! However, whereas highly processed white sugar results in strong insulin spikes, honey (which is approximately 30% glucose, 40% fructose and 10% other sugars, mainly maltose) results in a slower absorption of sugar into the body.
Fructose is the sugar which we find in fruits, and is seen as been healthier than processed white sugar. As for glucose, well glucose is an exact copy of the sugar which the body uses to power itself. When we eat carbohydrates, the body breaks down the carbohydrates until only glucose remains. Our brains, by the way consume 70% of all the glucose in our bodies!
While honey is a sugar, it is this quality which honey possess, this higher quality of sugar which results in a slower absorption into the body. In a study on a 20gram intake of sucrose versus glucose versus honey, they noted that honey produced the lowest level of sugar spike in the blood. 2
So honey is a far better source of sugar than white processed sugar, however, it is a sugar and if diabetic, too much is a bad thing, and so we should take honey but not too much, on a daily basis.
Honey helps to reduce respiratory problems: Probably the most famous trait, which honey possesses, is its ability to combat coughs and sore throats. This is obvious because honey is a trickily substance, which coats the throat and oesophagus with a slimy coating, which in turn has a soothing effect.
This is obviously a good thing, because it helps to reduce the amount of allopathic medicines, which we take, when we have a respiratory infection or a sore throat. Also, when we compare honey against say cough medicine, for example, cough medicine has very little effect as the cough syrup very rapidly dissipates. Whereas with honey, because it is so sticky that it remains in place for a long time, it acts as a cough and sore throat depressant for a longer time.
Which leads onto another interesting point, taking honey before going to bed helps young children to sleep. If you have a child who finds it difficult to sleep, give them a tablespoon of honey just before going to bed, and see if it has a positive effect. Possibly the reason for this might tie in with the sticky soothing nature of honey. When we take it, just before going to bed and lie in bed, the soothing effect on a sore throat is noticeable not only in its power, but also in its duration. Furthermore, it is a psychologically boosting effect; a feeling of warmth and reassurance, and possibly this is why children sleep better after taking honey.
The soothing nature of honey, however, is not simply psychological or connected to its sticky nature. In a study assessing the effects of honey on four different types of bacteria: Klebsiella pneumoniae; Pneumococci; Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, they noted that honey made a significant effect on all four types of bacteria’s.3 So honey doesn’t just feel like it’s helping, with our colds and coughs, it actual is helping to fight off bacterial infections, of the respiratory tract!
Furthermore, it is symptom free, with the only contraindication to watch out for been to avoid giving honey to children under one year of age, as there is a possibility for them getting botulism, because their young immune systems are very weak.
Honey from a Complimentary Medical Point of View
When we take a look at honey, from a TCM perspective we note that:
Honey is sweat and netural in nature and consequently it lubricates and nourishes the inner organs of the body, in particular the lung, large intestine, stomach spleen channels.*
These channels move subtle energy (Qi) around the body, which in turn boosts our health in so many ways. Honey boosts the functioning of the stomach and spleen energy which improves appetite, reduces pain and boosts energy levels. It lubricates the lungs and the intestines, thus reducing cough and relieving constipation. It detoxifies the body and also it reduces heat in the body, which in turn has a nurturing effect.
In summary, from a TCM perspective honey is a tonic, in that it helps to build up the body from the inside.
Honey, is in every home and yet we tend to take it for granted. Honey is a fantastic tonic and it helps with respiratory infections and sore throats, it helps our kids sleep and it makes for a good alternative to white sugar as a sweetener.
In a nutshell eat the best quality honey that you can afford on your budget!
A final consideration, when using honey is to use a good quality honey as most off the shelf honey’s, which we find in the supermarket are usually of low quality; they still work well but might not be as effective as a good quality honey. Usually, with honey the darker the better, so look for a nice dark bottle of honey and pretty much avoid comparing prices, as sometimes cheap honey is better than the more expensive varieties. Just try out a few and compare.
Also, there are some great honey’s available in health food stores, but often times while great, they are really expensive. Honey coombe, for example, (as in the actual honeycomb) is great, but it won’t keep longer than a couple of days. So in a nutshell eat the best quality honey that you can afford on your budget, because you have to take it on a regular basis if you want the health benefits. Honey is one of those foods which should be a part of everyone’s diet, if they are interested in maintaining their health!
Honey is one of those simple everyday foods, which is found in our kitchens, which are exceptionally good for our health. Other very powerful and popular foods, found in our kitchens are ginger, garlic and lemon. So honey and lemon, ginger and garlic are profoundly powerful and popular. But they can only be beneficial for our health, when we imbibe them on a daily basis. So make a point of keeping some honey, lemon, ginger and garlic and stock and start today, as over time a health benefit will be noticed.
*Don’t confuse energetic names of organs with the actual organs. For example, in TCM we the stomach, spleen, large and lower intestine, lung, heart, kidneys, gallbladder and bladder are frequently mentioned. However, TCM practitioners are speaking about subtle energy contained in these organs, rather than the organs themselves. Also, they are frequently referred to as channels because subtle energy (Qi) travels along these channels between the organs. The reason for the funny names goes back to ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine and should not be confused with modern allopathic medicine. A good example is the spleen, which from an allopathic point of view only functions at boosting immunity, whereas in Chinese medicine it is referred to as an essential organ for the control of water in the body, as well as the ability to raise Qi energy!
Clinical observations on the wound healing properties of honey
- S. E. E. Efem*
Article first published online: 8 DEC 2005
Copyright © 1988 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd.
- Plasma Glucose Responses to Glucose, Sucrose, and Honey in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus: An Analysis of Glycaemic and Peak Incremental Indices
Samanta, A. C. Burden andA. R. Jones Senior Medical Registrar*
Article first published online: 30 JUL 2009
1985 Diabetes UK
- ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF HONEY AGAINST BACTERIA ISOLATED FROM RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS
Farhan Essaa Abdullah, Kiran Afab, Rabia Khanum, Sidrah Sohail Khan