- Written by Suzy Cohen Suzy Cohen
Honey, a luscious golden elixir, has not only graced our breakfast tables and sweetened our tea, but it has also been revered for its medicinal benefits for millennia.
While it’s a natural sweet treat for many, there are some intriguing facts about honey that may surprise you. Let’s go through the top five medicinal magic properties of honey:
1. It’s antimicrobial. Honey’s claim to fame is not just its sweetness. Rich in antioxidants, it fights off free radicals and repairs tissue damage. With its natural antibacterial properties, honey speeds up the healing of wounds and even combats certain harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it’s also a soothing remedy for sore throats and coughs. The osmotic effect of honey draws out bacteria from inflamed pores, making it a darling in many skincare regimens.
If you make homemade yogurt like I do, you should know that “raw” honey will not ferment because the natural antibiotic properties will kill your probiotic starter culture during incubation.
2. Different flowers are used. Not all honey is created equal. From almost clear to deep brown, honey’s hue is largely determined by its floral source.
Dark honeys, like buckwheat, are rich in antioxidants and flavor. By the way, buckwheat-derived honey is still wheat and gluten-free. Lighter honeys, such as those from orange blossoms, offer a milder taste.
And then there’s the star of the honey world: Manuka. Hailing from New Zealand, Manuka honey boasts unique therapeutic properties, often used in wound care.
3. Honey and babies. Honey and toddlers? Wait until their first birthday! Infants below the age of 12 months shouldn’t be given honey due to the risk of botulism. But as children grow older, they can safely savor its sweetness.
4. Is it vegan or vegetarian? Honey’s place in the vegan or vegetarian diet stirs debate.
While it comfortably sits on vegetarian menus, its vegan status is contentious. Since it’s a bee byproduct and some commercial honey practices may harm bees, many vegans prefer plant-based sweeteners like Bee Free® Honee, monk fruit, or stevia.
5. Allergies. If you are allergic to some flowers as many people are, it’s natural to question whether the honey derived from that flower’s nectar would also trigger an allergic reaction.
However, honey allergies stemming from floral sources are quite rare. This is because the pollen grains from flowers responsible for most pollen allergies are too large to be carried by bees.
Instead, bees carry smaller, nectar-bearing pollen grains, which rarely cause allergic reactions. Once collected, bees return to their hive and transform this nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and evaporation.
In short, honey is not collected from a flower’s stems or leaves. That said, it’s always good to avoid potential problems with honey if you have severe allergies, and, of course, consult your allergist/immunologist.
I have a longer version of this article at my website suzycohen.com if you’re interested in more medicinal facts about honey.
This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat your disease. For more information about the author, visit suzycohen.com.