Humans have used honey for thousands of years. Rock art dating back to 8000 BC depicts honey harvesting, and the Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans used it to heal wounds, and to treat fevers and stomach ailments. Today, in every culture, honey is used for medicinal purposes and consumed as a regular part of the diet. The antibacterial properties of honey, particularly New Zealand Manuka honey and Malaysian Tualang honey, are well documented. Both have been proven to be effective against many strains of bacteria including salmonella, E coli, staph, and H. Pylori. Honey has also been proven to heal wounds that don’t react to antibiotics.
Many of the benefits of honey come courtesy of the pollen held within it, so typically transparent ultra-filtered honey does not provide many health benefits. Scientific tests have concluded that darker, concentrated honey is more potent, and that the type of plant the bee harvests from has a major influence on honey’s qualities – antibacterial and otherwise.
Perhaps one of the best qualities about honey is that it contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. The range depends on the harvest, however honey is commonly high in vitamin C, calcium and potassium, and also offers varying levels of iron, zinc, phosphorous, folate and B6.
Honey is a good alternative to cough and cold medications. Studies completed on children worldwide found that honey eased nocturnal coughing and improved sleep quality more than over-the-counter cough suppressants.
Honey is also a good energy source. If you are sick with no appetite or are finding it hard to hold food down, a teaspoon of honey will provide you with 64 calories, and it is a very simple substance for the body to digest.
Studies completed at the University of Memphis found that honey was just as good or better than sugar in boosting the staying power of endurance athletes. A study of postmenopausal women showed that it improved their memory as much as receiving hormone therapy. Additionally, recently, a researcher at the University of Illinois published a series of studies on honey’s antioxidant properties, finding that it helps remove free radicals, improving immunity.
Further studies are being undertaken to establish honey’s impact on cancer, heart and diabetes patients. So far there’s evidence that high quality honey helps play a role in regulating blood glucose, but experts warn against using too much of it until more tests are completed.
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