Honey

Amanda Filipowicz, CNP, BES
Jar of honey with honeycomb

Honey is a sweet liquid made naturally by bees for their own nourishment. It is a natural alternative to sugar and apart from its delicious taste, has many health benefits. 

Raw Honey Benefits

Raw honey is easily absorbed by the digestive lining and is free from bacterial invasion. It has a low level of protein which means bacteria cannot grow due to lack of nitrogen, for this reason, it helps in fighting germs by converting oxygen, present in the system, into hydrogen peroxide which is a good disinfectant. This conversion is generated by the presence of an enzyme which has been taken from nectar by the bees.

Honey is also beneficial in the cure of many digestive ailments. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce digestive inflammation, ease ulcers and aid in healing wounds. It may help with conditions such as acne, arthritis, burns, coughs, colds, throat inflammation, cracked lips, diarrhea, cholesterol, indigestion, obesity, toothache, urinary tract infection as well as low immunity, hair loss, stomach upsets, constipation, ulcers and infections.

Consuming locally produced unpasteurized honey aids in helping to build up one’s immunity to pollen allergies – as raw honey typically has small amounts of pollen, dust and other moulds. The bee pollen and propolis found in raw honey also help to treat respiratory problems.

When used topically it can aid in healing burns, cuts, abrasions and other surface wounds It provides a protective barrier that helps in preventing wounds from becoming infected, helps in healing and also helps in preventing scars. It may help in the growth of fibroblasts which replace the connective tissue of the inner skin layer.

Honeybees add an enzyme to the honey they produce which helps in inverting the twelve-carbon compound, sucrose, present in honey into two six-carbon sugars namely dextrose and levulose. Levulose is the sweetest form of sugar and it makes honey very sweet. Levulose contains acids, such as nicotinic acid, vitamins such as B1, B2 and C, minerals, colouring as well as flavouring materials.

Where Does Honey Come From?

The making of honey is a fascinating process. It begins when the bees sit on the flowers. They collect the flower’s nectar in their mouths. This nectar mixes with special enzymes found in the bees’ saliva, and become the raw honey. The bees do this act as part of their nourishment. The honey gets deposited in the cells of the hive’s walls. The moisture content is initial high in the honey. But fluttering of bees wings around the hive’s walls provides the necessary ventilation. It reduces the moisture making the raw honey benefits available to us for consumption.

Different Types of Honey

Comb Honey

Its production was common during the days when there was no extracting device. But today, you will rarely find this form. Sometimes, you may find comb which has been attached to a jar of liquid form. It is raw and pure one which is taken straight away from the hive or the wax comb without any additions. It can be eaten like a chewy candy. As it is the unprocessed form that is untouched, it is relatively expensive.

Liquid Honey

It is the most common and processed form that has been filtered. During filtering, fine particles, air bubbles and pollen grains are removed. Then it is heated in order to melt crystals. It is very commonly made use of in a variety of dishes, especially in baking and cooking. People use it as a syrup for making waffles and pancakes. As it is a processed form, it is not very expensive.

Cream, Whipped, Hipped, Spun or Granulated Honey

It is a rare and processed form that has been crystallized wherein 1 part is finely granulated and 9 parts are liquid. This is blended to get a whipped or granulated form. After the crystallization process, there will not be any dripping, unlike liquid and comb forms. Also, the colour becomes light but the nutritional values and taste remain unaffected. It gets a smooth consistency. It can be used and spread like butter.

Honey as a Sugar Substitute

Honey is sweeter than table sugar, you may be able to cut your sweetener calories by as much as half if you substitute honey for sugar.

Tips to Substitute Honey for Sugar

  • Substitute about 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup of honey for every cup of sugar in your recipe, depending on your tastes and the recipe.
  • For recipes that use more than 1 cup of honey, it may be necessary to reduce the other liquids in the recipe to compensate for the addition of the honey.
  • One cup of honey weighs 12 ounces or three-quarters of a pound.
  • Honey is denser than cane sugar and weighs more per cup.
  • Baked goods made with honey tend to brown a bit darker than those made with sugar. You can reduce the oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the effect.
  • Foods made with honey instead of sugar are a bit softer and moister.
  • Honey’s emulsifying quality makes it a good stabilizer, making it a good addition to salad dressings.
  • Diabetics should follow the advice of their doctor or dietitian when substituting honey for sugar.
  • Spray measuring cups and utensils with oil before measuring honey to allow the honey to slide out easily.
  • Honey has a stronger flavour than sugar, so it may alter the flavour of your recipe.

As you experiment with substituting honey for sugar in your favourite recipes, you will learn by trial and error what works best for you.

Dangers of Raw Honey

As it is in it’s natural, unprocessed, unheated and unfiltered form – raw honey comes with several minute risks. Also, it contains the same resins found in propolis, in small amounts. Propolis is made by the honeybees using plant resins as well as their own secretions to use it for sealing the hive and for protecting it from bacteria. The side effects of this natural sweetener can be found out by reading ahead.

Infant Botulism

The raw form of this sweet food is a source of clostridium botulinum spores. When there is no oxygen, these spores germinate to produce toxins. If consumed by one-year-old children or healthy adults, these botulism spores do not thrive in their digestive systems as they are mature. But you cannot give honey to infants who are less than 12 months old. This is because they have a weak digestive system and cannot prevent the spores from thriving. That leads to the growth of spores.

Leftovers and Residues

As this form is unprocessed, unpasteurized, unfiltered and unheated, it contains many residues and leftovers. You will find that it contains flecks or particles made of bee pollen, fragments of broken bee wings, honeycomb bits and propolis. This is unsafe for direct consumption or usage.

Harmful Chemicals

Flowers are sprayed with insecticides, pesticides, fungicides and other such chemicals to keep off harmful organisms. When the bee collects nectar from such flowers then the derived substance will also contain these harmful chemicals that are toxic to your health.

Will Honey Make You Fat

  • Honey is similar to sugar in terms of taste. It is a sweet, healthy food that should not be consumed in excess. 
  • In terms of calorie count, a tablespoon of this sweet food contains around 22 calories. On the other hand, a tablespoon of refined sugar contains around 16 calories.
  • Also, because it is unprocessed, it is better to consume it than consuming sugar because it is a whole food while sugar is a refined or processed food item.
  • Honey is composed of carbohydrates that exist in the form of glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose and other similar sources.
  • It also consists of amino acids, vitamins such as niacin and riboflavin and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium and phosphorous.
  • It is a whole food whereas refined sugar is a pure carbohydrate that exists in the form of glucose. Sugar does not contain any vitamins and minerals.
  • This sweet derivative obtained from the hive of bees takes more time for digestion because it contains carbohydrates. Its sugars are released slowly into the blood when compared to sugar.

Can Honey Cure Acne?

Honey is known for its anti-bacterial properties. Honey has been used in various beauty treatments as it promotes healthy and glowing skin. Traditionally, honey has been used to treat wounds, sore throat and sickness. How good is honey for acne? People who use honey on their skin say that it leaves their skin feeling smooth, wrinkle-free and refreshed.

Acne Facts and Honey

      • Various factors are responsible for an acne breakout. They are:
        • Excess oil produced by the sebaceous glands

        • Dead skin and dirt clogging the skin pores

        • Hormonal changes

        • Unhealthy diet

        • Stress

    When the pores of the skin are clogged by dead skin cells and excess oil produced by the sebaceous glands, acne-causing bacteria quickly multiply and wreak havoc. Since honey is known for its anti-bacterial properties, it helps in controlling the spread of bacteria and prevents further acne breakouts.

How Does Honey Help Cure Acne

    • A lot of people are looking for natural remedies to get rid of acne. Honey is safe and natural. Honey can be applied topically on the acne. You can also consume a spoonful of natural honey every day. Researchers have also observed that the use of honey for acne gave positive results in a majority of people. Honey is packaged and sold for different uses. Raw honey is best for acne treatment. The best way to use honey is to apply it directly on the acne. You can also mix it with a face mask. The following face mask is easy to prepare and simple.
      • Take 1 tbsp of almond oil

      • Take 2 tbsp of honey

      • Mix it well and apply on your face in a circular motion

      • You can also add a few drops of lemon juice to it if your skin is oily

      • Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and rinse with warm water

Few people may not see any favourable results after using honey to treat acne. You can discontinue its use and consult your physician. There are no side-effects or allergic reactions caused by honey. It is completely safe. )

Top Home Remedies that use Honey

    1. Honey And Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment: This remedy is helpful in regularizing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bad breath, heartburn, heat exhaustion, obesity, premature ageing, arthritis, food poisoning, and brittle nails. With apple cider vinegar it acts as an anti-ageing agent, detoxifies the toxins accumulated in the body, balances the acidic nature of the digestive system, and helps the body fight off bacteria and other foreign bodies effectively. It is good to reduce fatigue and weakness, slows down arthritis and osteoporosis condition, and relieves aching muscles.
      • Take a tablespoon of honey and apple cider vinegar and dissolve it in a glass of cold distilled water. Drink it twice a day.
    2. Honey And Milk: The combination of honey and milk helps smoothen, cleanse, hydrate, and revitalize the skin. It is used in many beauty treatments. It believed to slow down the ageing process and moisturize the skin. It provides a good environment for the good bacteria to grow and improves the digestive system, aids in the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, and smooth bowel movements. For people suffering from insomnia, it is a good treatment which induces sleep.
      • Mix a tablespoon of honey in a glass of hot milk and drink every night before sleep.
    3. Nectar And Lemon: With lemon, it can help in losing weight, reduce the excess accumulation of fats in the body, controls high levels of cholesterol, and is beneficial in treating obesity. This eventually aids in better functioning of heart, kidney and liver. Shedding extra pounds will also help in reducing the chance of other diseases like diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder stones, arthritis, and other related conditions. This is also an effective remedy in detoxifying the toxins from the body and regulates proper digestion.
      • Take a glass of lukewarm or room temperature water. To it add a teaspoon of honey and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Stir well and take in on empty stomach every morning. It can also be taken after a heavy meal.
    4. With Cinnamon: Nectar in combination with cinnamon is an excellent home remedy for heart ailments, arthritis, hair loss, cholesterol, and bladder infections. It reduces the extra accumulation of fats, cures indigestion problem, treats cold, improves immunity, and is good for many skin infections like acne, eczema, psoriasis etc.
      • Mix equal quantities of honey and cinnamon powder and eat it with bread every morning to cut the risk of heart diseases.
      • Apply the paste of these two ingredients on the joints that are paining to relieve arthritis condition.
      • Mix the paste with olive oil and massage the hair and wash it after 15 minutes to treat hair loss.
      • To cure gall bladder problems mix the combination with warm water and drink.
      • To subdue toothache problem massage the mixture on the problematic area.
      • Add this mixture to green tea and drink to cut high cholesterol levels.
      • To treat cold drink it with lukewarm water.
      • To improve the immune system, take a teaspoon of this mixture with lukewarm water.
      • Apply equal parts of this mixture on various skin conditions to heal.
      • Take a teaspoon of the mixture before eating to relieve acidity problem.
      • Boil a cup of water and add a teaspoon of it to make a tea. This will improve longevity.
      • Apply this paste on acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions to treat.
      • Gargle with it to beat bad breath.
      • Take a teaspoon of it to control diabetes.
    5. With Peppermint For Mouthwash: This mouthwash effectively treats bad breath, kills germs in the mouth, and prevents many dental and oral conditions.
      • Take a cup of distilled water (warm) and to it add a teaspoon of honey, two drops of peppermint oil, and a drop of anise oil. Mix well and gargle and swish with this prepared solution for half a minute to enjoy good breath.
    6. With Lemon As Mouthwash: Lemon is refreshing and honey is anti-microbial in nature. These two ingredients together can beat the bad odour from the mouth, eliminate bacteria causing the smell, and save other oral and dental conditions.
      • Soak lemon balm leaves in chartreuse liquor and cover it for two weeks. Squeeze the leaves and strain the liquid. To this extract add honey and water. Swish with it every morning for half a minute.
    7. With Ginger: Nectar with ginger is a very effective expectorant and treats many respiratory disorders like cold, cough, sore throat etc. It is also good for asthma, indigestion, and morning sickness.
      • Take a teaspoon of ginger juice and mix it with nectar to cure sore throat, cold, and cough.
      • For asthma treatment mix a pinch of black pepper powder to the mixture and take it.
      • Take it with lukewarm water to improve the weak digestion.
      • Make ginger and honey tea by mixing it in a cup of warm water to clear congestion in the respiratory tract.
    8. With Egg For Skin Beauty: For beauty and skin benefits this honey and egg are two important products. A mixture of them can help treat many skin conditions and results in glowing and flawless radiance.
      • Beat an egg and add a teaspoon of honey to it. Use this facial mask and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash with cold water to get a glowing, tight, and smooth look.
      • Take a tablespoon of oatmeal powder, a teaspoon of honey, few drops of your favourite essential oil, and one egg. Make a fine paste, apply it on the face, and leave it to dry. Wash it off to get a new layer of smooth and fresh skin.
    9. With Turmeric: These two products are considered to be an essential part of many beauty treatments aimed at lightening the skin tone, smoothen it, removing acne scars and dark spots. It is beneficial for anemia.
      • Mix equal parts of turmeric powder and nectar. Apply this on the face and leave it for 20 minutes before washing it off with cold or lukewarm water.
      • For treating anemic condition mix equal parts of turmeric and honey and take it every morning.
    10. With Garlic: This mixture along with apple cider vinegar as an extra ingredient is beneficial in many conditions like impotency, infertility, arthritis, joint aches, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, piles, high blood pressure, and prevents cancer risk. It is also used to treat cold, cough, and is good for improving the immune system.
      • Blend a cup of honey, vinegar, and eight cloves of garlic. Refrigerate it for 5 days and use two tablespoons of it every day with any fruit juice.
    11. Honey Lemon Ginger Tea: Great when you have an irritated throat or are feeling a little under the weather. This tea aids in soothing a sore throat and boosting the one’s immune system with the antioxidants, vitamin C and other phenolic compounds present in this delicious tea. 
    12. Golden Milk with Raw Honey: Turmeric is the star of this drink, but the honey present in it not only gives a wonderful touch of sweetness but also soothing and healing benefits. It aids in boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and soothing an irritated throat. 

References

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Niaz, K., Maqbool, F., Bahadar, H., Abdollahi, M. (2017). Health Benefits of Manuka Honey as an essential Constituent for Tissue Regeneration. Current Drug Metabolism. Volume 18, Issue 10, pages 881-892. 

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Requier, F., Garnery, L., Kohl, P.L., Njovu, H.K., Pirk, C.W.W., Crewe, R.M., Steffan-Dewanter, I. (2019). The Conservation of Native Honey bees is Crucial. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 

Sepankova, H., Saraiva, J.A., Estevinho, L.M. (2017). Honey Health Benefits and Uses in Medicine: Bee Products – Chemical and Biological Properties. Pages 83-96. 

Tsvetokovi, N., Samson-Robert, O., Sood, K., Patel, H.S., Malena, D.A., Gajiwala, P.H., Maciukiewicz, P., Fournier, V., Zayed, A. (2017). Chronic Exposure to neonicotinoids reduces honey bee health near corn crops. Science. Volume 356, Issue 6345, Pages 1395-1397. 

Visweswara Rao Pasupuleti, Lakhsmi Sammugam, Nagesvari Ramesh, and Siew Hua Gan, “Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, Article ID 1259510, 21 pages, 2017

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