by Anna Hunt via truththeory.com
One of the most natural foods in the world, honey has many uses and benefits the body in many different ways. Many of us think of honey as a nutritional natural sweeter – a great replacement to processed white sugar – and as a flavor enhancer in dressings and sauces, but in addition honey has been used worldwide since ancient times for its medicinal properties.
Honey’s Medicinal Properties
Honey is an effective treatment for many health conditions. It is rich in antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making it a great alternative to topical antibiotic ointments, which are starting to be less and less effective due to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is also great for respiratory ailments, especially symptoms of cold and flu such as sore throat and cough. Furthermore, honey contains flavonoids and antioxidants, two essential elements needed to aid in the prevention of cancer cell growth. With skyrocketing cancer rates, honey can be a beneficial component of your daily cancer prevention regimen.
Honey’s composition consists of equal parts fructose and glucose that have bonded with water molecules. This means that each serving of honey gives your body a natural energy boost. Additionally, honey’s antibacterial and antifungal properties may help reduce gastrointestinal disorders. Your skin can also benefit from honey. Its antibacterial properties make it an effective moisturizer that will nourish the skin, especially when combined with other ingredients such as apples or cucumbers. Honey can also help some unpleasant skin ailments such as acne and sores.
The Creative Honeybee
It may surprise you that there are over 300 unique types of honey available in North America and thousands of varieties worldwide. Honeys differ in color, flavor and aroma depending on the nectar source of the flowers visited by the honeybees. Lighter honeys such as Alfalfa and Clover usually have a milder flavor and are considered a great natural sweetener for everyday use, while darker honeys such as Manuka, Avocado and Buckwheat can be quite robust and rich in flavor.
Lab testing shows that different types of honeys differ in their vitamin and mineral content, because each honey has a unique compilation of nectars. Similar to wine, honeys of a specific type can even vary year to year, depending on the climate, temperature and rainfall.
If honeybees are predominantly visiting a certain type of plant, then they will produce a specific honey variety. Each variety is packed with certain levels of nutrients, thus giving different honeys different healing properties. Yet, many honeys – even specific varieties – include a blend of nectars because honeybees are quite intelligent when it comes to which flowers they visit. They collect nectar of certain flowers because of the vitamins and minerals that will give them a balanced diet and a mix of needed phytochemicals (biologically active compounds produced by plants). Honey manufacturers will also add different honeys to a specific honey type to meet certain qualities. For example Sage honey is blended with other varieties to slow down granulation because it is extremely slow to granulate.
Healing Honey Varieties
Although all honeys have some of the same medicinal properties, certain honeys have shown to alleviate specific health problems and have been used as natural medicines for ages. The following honeys have become quite popular over the last few years and now are somewhat easy to find:
1. Acacia honey is created from the nectar of the Black Locust blossoms (Robinia pseudoacacia). Its high fructose and low sucrose content make it a great choice for diabetics. Acacia honey is known for its therapeutic effects such as cleansing the liver, regulating digestive processes especially in the intestines, and reducing inflammation in the respiratory system.
2. Eucalyptus honey comes in many varieties because Eucalyptus is one of the larger plant genera with over 500 species, hence Eucalyptus honeys can vary in color and flavor. Its origin is Australia but it is now also produced in California. Traditionally, Eucalyptus honey has been used to protect against colds and headaches. With a hint of menthol flavor, it can be quite effective in alleviating mild cough, chest congestion and other cold symptoms. Furthermore, Eucalyptus honey has also been widely used as a topical treatment or blended in natural topical medicines for healing wounds, ulcers, burns, sores and abrasions, as well as for insect bites and stings. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it beneficial in relieving muscle and joint pain when massaged into the skin.
3. Linden honey, most commonly recognized in Northern Europe where Linden trees (Tilia) are planted in city parks and gardens and along the roads, is known for its light yellow color and delicate woody scent. It has slight sedative properties, therefore it is recommended for anxiety. It can also aide with insomnia if used in a bath before bedtime. Its antiseptic properties make it a natural treatment for colds, cough and other respiratory ailments such as bronchitis.
4. Manuka honey is collected from the flowers of the Tea Tree bush (Leptospermum), found in the coastal areas of New Zealand. This type of honey has strong antibacterial properties thus making it an effective elixir for digestive problems such as stomach ulcers and indigestion, for symptoms associated with colds such as sore throat, and for skin problems such as acne and pimples. The taste of Manuka honey can be quite robust, but it will vary depending on which brand you buy so if you don’t like one, try another.
5. Neem honey is a popular Ayurvedic treatment and can be commonly found in India where Neem trees (Azadirachta indica) are common. It is used to lower high blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems, allergies, dental illnesses, and throat infections.
In addition to buying raw and, if possible, organic honey, many natural products are now available, especially for skin care, that come pre-blended with these honey varieties. Some of my favorites include Wild Ferns Manuka Honey Facial Care products and Amazing Ayurveda cleansers.
There are many other wonderful honey varieties that are perfect for cooking, baking, salad dressings and so forth. Some common ones include Alfalfa honey, Avocado honey, Clover honey, Blueberry honey and Orange Blossom honey, although, once again, there are thousands of honey varieties. If you haven’t found something that suits your needs, keep exploring.