Located at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, an 80 million-year-old bee lies preserved in a small bit of amber. A rock painting in Spain that is believed to be between 6,000 and 8,000 years old is the earliest recorded history of an interaction between people and bees. Archives from the nations of Babylon, Assyria, Persia, India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome document the domestication of bees and the use of honey for food, drink, and medicinal purposes. The only cultures that did not cultivate the honey bee for sugar and medicinal production were the indigenous Indian tribes of the Americas and the native aborigines of Australia.
The Egyptian record tells about using honey to heal wounds. The “father of medicine,” the Greek physician Hippocrates, writes extensively about using honey to heal wounds, to treat ulcers, and even used for hemorrhoids. It’s anti-bacterial properties are well known today in many countries, and using honey for such is receiving revived interest in the Western world as natural alternatives are sought to replace the chemicals of Big Pharma.
Honey is mentioned extensively in the Bible. Israel was promised to be a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Honey is synonymous with health, vitality, and riches throughout literature of all ages.
The health benefits of honey have been touted for years now. Who can forget Pat Boone and his family in television ads about “royal jelly,” the food of the queen bee? It is said that royal jelly is an anti-aging substance, energy enhancer, natural anti-depressant, and a hormonal stimulant.
There are many ways honey can be utilized to improve health. Some of those ways include the following:
- Local honey can help people with asthma. The operative word here is “local.” If you live in Illinois and buy honey from Mississippi, you’re not helping your asthma at all. The honey you buy must have been harvested from the area in which you live. This honey will have all the ingredients of the environment that you or your asthmatic family member is subjected to. Remember not to use honey in children under one year of age (because of the chance of infant botulism), and begin honey therapy slowly, ¼ of a teaspoon at first and increasing to 1 teaspoon twice a day. To find local beekeepers, Google your state’s beekeepers association and check out the list of registered members.
- Honey heals wounds. Honey has anti-bacterial attributes which include: low water content, acidity, hydrogen peroxide content, and other anti-bacterial compounds. Pharmacies in Australia sell honey as wound dressing! Honey is also used for skin ulcers, whether pressure ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers, as well as burns and infected wounds. For example, when seeping wound fluids interact with honey, the resultant chemical reaction produces hydrogen peroxide. This is part of the mechanism by which honey helps wounds heal. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, honey is also useful for burns.
- Honey is as good as, or better, than cough syrup. A 2007 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that honey was as good as dextromethorphan in relieving coughs and soothing throats. Use equal parts lemon juice and honey to not only soothe coughs, but to cut through phlegm and mucous so that the honey can coat the throat.
- Honey contains antioxidants. It contains pinocembrin, the one antioxidant not found in any other food. Pinocembrin is associated with improved brain functioning and limits the formation of, or damage from, free radicals. Generally, the darker the honey, the higher the antioxidant content.
- Honey is one of the purest foods around. Honey is the only food that includes all substances necessary to sustain life, including water. It is fat and cholesterol free, has a 17% water content and contains a variety of vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6); minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper); carbohydrates (mainly fructose, glucose and other complex carbs); and antioxidants (pinocembrin, vitamin C, chrysin and catalese).