Latin name: Apis (Honey bee)
What is Honey?
A natural sweetener akin to white sugar, honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. Honeybees collect nectar from flowers in their mouths, which mix with enzymes in the bees’ saliva, a process that turns the nectar into honey. The bees return to their hives and store the honey in wax honeycombs. The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees, and like most foods, the health benefits of honey depend on the source quality.
Honey has been used for healing and culinary purposes since ancient times. A cave painting in Valencia, Spain, suggests that humans have been collecting honey for at least 10,000 years. For thousands of years, honey was reserved only for the wealthy, as it was so expensive. Eventually, honey was displaced in cooking by refined sugar from sugar cane and sugar beets, which was an inexpensive alternative.
What are the health benefits of Honey?
In traditional Chinese medicine, honey is considered neutral in nature, unless heated, and then it is warming; honey is used to lubricate dryness, counteract weakness, alleviate constipation, and clear toxins.
Known to be antiseptic and antibacterial, honey has been used topically as an antiseptic agent in the treatment of wounds for centuries. Studies have found that dressing a burn or wound in honey-soaked gauze works more effectively than many conventional treatments. As a folk remedy, honey has been taken for stomach ulcers and heartburn, and Western research indicates that it may stop the growth of H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for most gastric ulcers. The caffeic acid in honey may prevent colon cancer.
Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs, and according to recent research, may actually be as effective as many common cough medicines. Unfiltered, pasteurized honey is widely believed to alleviate allergies, but thus far studies have not confirmed this. In many experiments involving people with either high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes, honey has proved itself the healthiest sweetener.
More information about the healing powers of Bee Pollen, Bee Propolis, and Royal Jelly can be found in the Supplements section.
Are there any precautions for Honey?
Never give honey to a child under one year of age because raw honey can harbor botulism spores.
Where can I find Honey?
Honey can be found in grocery stores and many outdoor markets; it is available year-round but is at its freshest summer through autumn.
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