Honey, the sweet, sticky and delicious byproduct of buzzy bees collecting nectar and Winnie the Pooh's favorite treat, is far more than a simple sweetener or nickname for your sweetheart. Humans have been using honey since cavemen times. Our favorite animated bears desire it even more than they do "pic-A-nic" baskets. It is succulent, historically rich, and a natural remedy for health and beauty. It is honey.
Honey is a viscous (i.e. thick and sticky) fluid derived from the nectar of plants. It is an antiseptic, meaning bacteria has a difficult time growing in it, and it is also antibacterial and antifungal. It has antioxidants and small amounts of many other nutrients, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. There are many different types of honey, all depending on what types of nectar the honeybees feed on. Most honeys are blended honeys, which means that they are from many different types of plants and may be a mixture of honey from different areas. Processing, however, is equally important. As with most other natural products, the less the honey is processed--the more "raw" it is--the more health benefits it will retain.
Uses for Honey
Honey helps relieve a sore throat. Honey has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties that will soothe the throat and help treat illness. Honey also provides antioxidants. For the best results, honey can be combined with lemon and hot water. Boil a sliced lemon in water for a few minutes. Add honey. When it is cool enough to drink, drink it slowly, allowing it to coat the throat. If this doesn't sound very tasty, honey can also be taken straight, for those that like it that way. Or try it in green tea, which boasts its own natural health benefits.
Honey helps relieve upper respiratory infections. For children two years and older, honey can help relieve a cough and other symptoms of a respiratory infection. Various over-the-counter medications are being questioned as safe for children to use. Honey has come to the front of many of these studies as a safe and effective home remedy. Many recent studies show that honey can be taken instead of these over-the-counter medicines and will relieve nighttime coughing and improve sleep quality, all without the potentially dangerous side effects of medicine.
Honey can be used as a natural burn treatment. Honey is known to help prevent infection, reduce odors and swelling, and will often help heal a mild burn faster than one treated without honey. This goes for shallow cuts and scrapes, as well. As a natural antiseptic, honey creates an environment where bacteria cannot survive. Honey is also a humectant, meaning that it attracts and retains moisture. This provides an environment that promotes healing. Just apply honey topically to the burn or shallow wound. Cover with a clean, soft bandage. Bandages may also be soaked in honey to prevent them from sticking to a wound.
Use honey for an all-natural facial. Honey is a natural, organic and eco-friendly way to treat yourself to a facial. Just smear a thin layer onto your skin, avoiding the eye area. Leave this on for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse off with water. Honey will help retain moisture within the skin while simultaneously making it difficult for bacteria to survive there. Using a honey facial will help to clear up acne. It will also help to keep the pores free of dirt and bacteria and therefore keep your pores from expanding. After a few days, your skin will be softer and brighter, your pores will be smaller, and your skin will have less blemishes.
Honey can be used as an organic body scrub. Many body scrubs on the market include chemicals and materials that are harmful to the environment. But cheap, organic, and completely safe scrubs can be made at home with products that most people have on hand. One recipe is to mix together 3/4 cup of honey, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of an oil of your choice (grapeseed oil, olive oil, etc.). If you'd like, you can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or essential oil of your choice, for a nice smell. This recipe is easily altered and fun to experiment with. Consider other ingredients, such as oatmeal, avocado, lavender, and lemon juice, as well.
Other ways to take your honey
Let's face it: honey is fabulous. And it isn't just for remedies either. Sometimes, like our animated friend Winnie the Pooh, we just want some honey, but we don't want to stuff our snouts into the honey jar. So, here are a few ways to spice up our daily lives with a variety of ways to imbibe the wondrous benefits of honey:
- Honey goes well with pears, pineapple, apricots, and apples.
- Honey can be added to tea, brandy, hot apple cider, lattes, and smoothies.
- Honey can also be drizzled over main dishes such as ham, lamb, chicken, and duck.
Substitute honey for sugar in your favorite recipe. Since honey is a stronger sweetener than simple white granulated sugar, less honey has to be used for an equally sweet treat. First, lower the baking temperature of the recipe by 25 degrees. Honey can be equally substituted for white sugar up to one cup. Reduce any liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every cup of honey that you use. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to counteract the acidity and viscosity of the honey.