Honey-Nature's Health Remedy
Just hearing the word honey can calm our senses, spark our memories and inspire desire in our salivary glands. Aptly named, the word honey comes from ancient Hebrew and translates "enchant," or in other words "to fill with delight," or to "place under a spell." Whether it's found in the scrumptious dollop of gooey sweetness drizzled over a stack of pancakes or in the sticky fingers of an intrigued toddler, honey is indeed delightful. But that's not even the best part; it's good for you too........... all of you, inside and out.
Benefits of Honey
Honey has long been utilized as a culinary sweetener, but unbeknownst to some has been valued just as long for its many healing properties. Honey has been proven to replenish energy, enhance stamina, and strengthen those weakened by physical illness both physically and emotionally. It clears the cobwebs and calms the mind; it promotes peaceful sleep and aids in rejuvenating a lagging spirit.
Also used for treating stomach ailments, coughs and colds, honey is hailed for its ability to relieve indigestion and respiratory complaints. Two of honey's main components, fructose and glucose are easily absorbed in the human digestive tract and provide an overall calming effect to to the entire digestive system. Interestingly enough, both of these constituents have already been digested by their producers. Honey is also a natural source of water, pollen, organic acids, proteins and enzymes.
The application of honey for its health benefits can take on many forms. Those suffering from hay fever may find adding honey to their daily menu beneficial in alleviating their sensitiveness during allergy season. A natural source of pollen grains, honey is said by some to desensitize the sufferer to the pollen in the environment, allowing for a much easier day to day existence during hay fever's peak season. Take care to note that for those of you willing to test this remedy, locally harvested honey is recommended. If you're going to battle pollen, you need to battle the pollen that's native to your own specific area.
Honey is also said to relieve the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough (do people still get whooping cough?). Available in a number of forms, honey is a readily available kitchen remedy that when taken orally can soothe and relax inflamed lungs and constricted airways. A mere teaspoon of fresh thyme mixed with a fair amount of honey should produce enough relief to make the sufferer comfortable and allow them to relax. Although honey is not a "cure all" for respiratory ailments (only a doctor can treat infection and more importantly asthma), it is a source of relief from their symptoms; relief does not translate "cure."
One of honey's less known uses is found in its antibacterial properties. Honey naturally contains the germ-killing substance inhibine. Studies show that honey high in inhibine has antibacterial effects even when applied in low concentrations. Testing, performed with honey from which all sugars had been removed concluded that the inhibine contained in honey not only inhibited the growth of bacteria but destroyed existing bacteria as well. When applied externally, honey acts as an agent that not only reduces swelling and draws out the excess water from minor abrasions but serves to heal and protect as well. Honey may be applied topically to those less severe wounds and bandaged accordingly.
The purchase of honey is a simple task, but the true appreciator of this medicinal nectar just might find it a journey. Many types of honey are available and found in a variety of different stores and markets. The honey connoisseur will more than likely base their purchase on consistency, taste and fragrance. Bees collect nectar from a variety of different locations and flowers, and the honey they produce is just as varied. My first container of honey came in the shape of a tiny plastic bear. That bear, he hooked me, but as the years have gone by I've become a bit more discerning in taste. To begin with, I'd recommend honey harvested organically by beekeepers who refuse the use of harmful pesticides and do not feed their bees refined sugar to increase production. After that, I concede that taste is individual and encourage experimentation and "taste testing." Indulge your palate, and you'll find the indulgence well worth the experimentation.
Important Things to Remember About Honey
On a final note, honey is not exactly a weight conscious food. Refined sugar, the dieter's nemesis, only contains forty-six calories per teaspoon whereas honey contains sixty-four. I'll take the natural unrefined sweetness in small doses, but the difference for those who overly indulge will eventually show up on the scale. Moderation is the key in either case.
Parents should also take care when giving honey to infants and small children. Always make sure that the honey you feed them is pasteurized. Unpasteurized honey contains bacteria that is dangerous to the very young although harmless to older children and adults. Check your honey carefully, those types of mistakes can't be taken back.
As with all natural remedies consult your doctor before using honey for medicinal purposes. Health professionals are the best judge of individual needs, symptomatic treatment and necessary medications.
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers, @ MCMXCIX"
Antibacterial Effect of Honey," J.H. Dustmann F.R.G., International Apitherapy Synposium, 1978