Honey Benefits and Manuka Honey - You'll be Surprised!

Honey benefits for health. Are there any? There certainly are! Honey helps fertility, contains vitamins and minerals and can be used in diets, and has been used an old-aged remedy to cure sore throats for years. In fact, there are some many curative properties for honey, that one could write a book about how good honey is for you.

However, there is also honey that is not good for you.

Poisonous Honey and Non Honey Benefits

Poisonous honey has been known to exist for thousands of years, and it might surprise you to learn that poisonous honey can cause headaches, severe vomitting, abdominal pains, nausea, dizziness and general feelings of being unwell. This is because the nectar that has been collected has come from plants that when converted into honey become toxic to the system.

Plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, monk's hood all contain glucoside of andromedotoxin. Nectar from leather-leaf and the marsh tea plant will also give you poisonous honey.

Strangely, plants that are known to be poisonous to man such as hemlock, oleander, henbane and foxglove are perfectly safe for nectar collection and honey making.

If you are keeping bees you will to know what bee and honey plants are good to have in your garden, and which aren't. In addition, honey that is heated then kills off the elements that make the honey dangerous to take. However, one has to be careful that the heat produced doesn't end up destroying the honey's organoleptic properties that make it so healthy for us.

Whether you are homesteading, or living in the suburbs you can learn to keep bees which will give you a good supply of pure honey. Beekeeping for Beginners gives you all you need to start your bee hives and for those of you in the suburbs or even in the cities, urban beekeeping is not unheard of. In fact, it is becoming very popular.

honey escaping from the raw honey comb

What is in Honey?

Honey is pure glucose and levulose which makes it extremely digestable. In addition to simple sugars, honey contains a number of elements necessary for normal cell, tissue and organ function.

Honey Benefits of its Enzymes

Honey has been found to have the following enzymes: diatase, invertase, catalase, peroxidase and lipase.

Diatase converts starch and dextrin into sugar. Invertase converts beet and cane sugar into glucose and fructose. Catalase decomposes peroxides. It is said that the reason why honey benefits us is because of the enzymes it contains. However, there are not just enzymes in honey, there are also vitamins.

Honey Benefits of its Vitamins

What is in honey that makes it so healthy? Well for a start honey has a lot of vitamins. In honey we can find Vitamin B2, B6, B3, H, K, C and some others. Honey is also an alkaline food, which is good for those who need to reduce the acidity in their bloodstream.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is very important to the system's normal function. Those who don't have enough B2 develop ulcerative colitis, nervous problems, lesions on the skin of the face, eye diseases etc. Honey has as much B2 as chicken meat, 17 x more than fresh apricots, 16 x more than grape juice and fresh apples, and 5 times more than carrots or lean cheese.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) helps metabolise proteins in the system. Those low on B6 will cause muscular weakness and paralysis, irritability and convulsions.

Vitamin B3 (Pantothenic Acid) helps metabolise carbohydrates.

Vitamin H (Biotin) helps metabolise fats and proteins and their assimilation. Vitamin H helps prevent psoriasis, eczema, herpes, furunculosis.

Vitamin B (Folic Acid) help to maintain a healthy blood supply. It used to cure anaemia.

Vitamin K (antihaemorrhagic) is used to cure stomach ulcers, and heavy bleeding.

Carotene (Precursor to Vitamin A) is essential to the repair to the epithelium cells, vision, and fertility.

Although the vitamin content of honey is small, it is because it is combined with other elements that makes honey so beneficial. Also, it was found that if the honey is filtered and the pollen removed, then most of the vitamins are lost as well.

Honey Benefits in the Chemical Elements

Chemical elements in honey are: magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, chlorine, phosphorus, sulphur, and iodine salts. Some honey even contains radium.

An interesting fact about the composition of honey is that in some honey the percentage of some salts in honey is almost equal to their concentration in human blood serum.

Honey Benefits in the Organic Acids

In addition to the above honey also has organic acids such as malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, lactic acid and oxalic acid.

Finally, honey also has derivatives of chorophyll, xanthophyll, proteins and other substances.

Honey Benefits - Anti-bacterial Qualities 

Honey, if stored correctly, can last indefinitely.  Because of its anti-bacterial qualities it was used be the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks to embalm the dead and honey was known by the Ancient Greeks and Romans to preserve meat and to improve its flavor.

In times past, people from Ceylon used to cut up meat, dip the pieces into honey, place them in tree hollows and stuff the hollows with leaves and twigs to come back a year or so later to find their meat in perfect condition.  

As a result, honey has long been used to place on open wounds and burns for cleaning and healing.

Honey Benefits - Antioxidant Qualities

Honey has a number of flavonoids and phenolic acids that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants scavange the system and eliminate free-radicals that may damage healthy cells if not kept in check.

By consuming antioxidant-loaded foods not only can you protect your body from cellular damage, but you can also help slow down the aging process and help slow down the development of degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Different Types of Honey

However, all honey is not equal. The percentage of minerals and vitamins vary in different types of honey. Therefore, the benefits of honey would differ too. The flavor of the honey will also depend on the nectar that the bees have been collecting to make their honey.

In Provence, France the honey, miel de lavande, is flavored by the surrounding lavender fields which can be found in great swathes throughout the area.

In Scotland, the honey there is made from nectar from the heather-clad hills and mountains.

In Greece, the honey there is different once again as some of it has been collected from thyme nectar.

In Florida honey comes mainly from the abundant citrus orchards.

In Australia honey comes predominantly from the yellow box and red box flowers.

However, in New Zealand and some parts of Australia is one honey that can set itself apart from the rest, and has now got a reputation as being the best honey there is, and that is Manuka honey.

The type of nectar collected will also result in different colors of honey. Therefore the honey that has come from heather is golden brown, while clover honey is pale yellow.

Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey, more particularly, organic Manuka honey is well-sought out for its healing properties.  Although Manuka honey orginally came from New Zealand, it is also produced in South-Eastern Australia where the manuka tree, also known as the tea tree,  grows and it is the manuka flowers from these trees that the bees feed on that makes this honey so special.

To know whether you are getting real Manuka honey, the color is a dark cream to dark brown. It also has a very distinctive strong flavor that can be very earthy.

So what is it that honey has, that makes it such a great antiseptic and healer?

When the bees collect the nectar from flowers they take it back to the hive and release an enzyme, glucose oxidase, that gets mixed with the nectar and which ends up helping to preserve the honey. When some of the Eqyptian pyramids were discovered, jars of honey 5000 years later were tasted and found to be still perfectly edible!

When honey comes into contact with our warm skin, it is the glucose oxidase that releases the antiseptic hydrogen pyroxide present in the honey that then goes to work fighting any bacteria, but being gentle enough on the skin not to do any damage to the skin tissue itself.

Now, most honeys will do the job, but Manuka honey is far more powerful as it has a higher rate of anti-bacterial qualities. In addition to the hydrogen pyroxide it has what is known as UMF, which is anti-bacterial property that is highly stable.

Now UMF can be found in other honeys, and the higher the UMF rating, the more healing properties the honey has. The UMF property is found in only some manuka flowers, and therefore found in only some Manuka honey.  Be aware of this when you buy your honey. Look for the UMF trade mark, and don't be fooled into thinking that because it says Active Manuka Honey  that you are buying honey that has the same health benefits as UMF honey, as it doesn't.

In the past, UMF honey was called Active Manuka Honey. However, since using the UMF trade mark this is the sign of a superior product. Active Manuka Honey is often used by bee producers to confuse consumers into thinking they are buying a product that has a high UMF rate, when in fact, it is usually the opposite.

Manuka honey that has a high UMF rate - at least UMF 10 to be ranked as Manuka Honey, and this should appear on the jar label, will be:
  • Twice as effective as other honey against staphylococcus aureus and eschericihia coli, the most common cause of infected wounds.
  • Eight times as effective against helicobacter pylori, the bacteria which causes most stomach ulcers.
  • Significantly more effective than other honey against streptococcus pyogenes which causes sore throats.

Honey Benefits and Hayfever

Honey is made from pollen and, as we all know, hayfever is caused by allergies to pollen, so honey seems like an odd cure for hayfever, but it works. Somehow, the tiny amounts of pollen in the honey don't affect the hayfever sufferer. In fact it is the opposite. The pollen in the honey actually desensitizers the allergic reaction over time. Continued use brings relief.

It seems that honey harvested locally is more effective than honey that is not harvested locally.

Honey Benefits for Teeth and Mouth

Because honey is anti-bacterial is is extremely good for treating all sorts of oral hygiene problems.

If you don't have toothpaste, using honey on your teeth and gums will clean them. Not only that, but the honey will prevent gum disease and prevents the deposit of tarter on the base of the teeth which leads to tooth decay if not removed.

If you suffer from mouth ulcers, applying honey directly to the ulcer as well as gargling with a honey and water mix you will heal your mouth ulcers a lot quicker than by using commercial topical applications.

Honey Benefits for Asthma Sufferers

If you suffer from asthma you can use honey for relief. You can take honey orally by either mixing a couple of spoons in either water or milk and drinking it twice a day for relief.

In addition to this you can put half a cup of honey in a small basin of hot water. Make a towel tent over your head and breathe in the honey steam.

Honey Benefits for Stomach Disorders

Honey is firstly a laxative, so can be take by those suffering from constipation. Mix 2 teaspoons in a glass of warm water and take 3 times a day until condition passes.

The regular intake of honey helps tone the stomach muscles and aids in digestion. Because it helps in stabilizing the amount of hydrochloric acid that the stomach makes honey is good for reducing heartburn, nausea and vomitting.

Honey also has the ability to absorb moisture enabling it to kill bacteria and clear up infections in the stomach.

Taking a cup of beet juice mixed with 1 tablespoon of honey every day before breakfast will help cure a gastric ulcer.

Honey also contains minerals that are essential for good health, and for this reason, is often recommended as a daily tonic.

The Benefits of Honey and Perspiration

If you suffer from excessive sweating you can find relief with honey. However, it has to be active Manuka honey for it to work successfully.

Take 2 teaspoons of Manuka honey with 2 teaspoons of organic cider vinegar with the "mother". Braggs make an excellent cider vinegar for this. Fill up a mug with warm water and drink this 3 times a day. Use a straw as the vinegar will strip the enamel off your teeth.

The Benefits of Honey for Losing Weight

How many people have been on this food diet and that crash diet to lose weight. Honey is used by those trying to lose weight as it is assimilated more quickly than other sugars. Mix a little honey with cider vinegar and taken regularly many swear that they lose 2-3 kilos a week with this concoction.

Health Benefits of Honey and Coughs

An old homemade remedy has been taking 1 tablespoon each of honey, lemon juice and glycerine for sore throats and coughs. Another is making a hot toddy of whiskey and a tablespoon of honey for colds, as well as to relax the mind and body after a stressful day.

The Benefits of Honey as Instant Energy

Athletes know that taking honey while training or during strenuous exercise actually gives one instant energy. Therefore this is a great food to pack if you are going climbing or hiking for a quick snack and an energy booster.

However, don't just use honey for special occasions.  A teaspoon of honey a day is excellent for those who are feeling constantly tired with low levels of energy.

The Benefits of Honey for Fertility

It is said that honey aids with fertility as well as overcomes impotency .

The Benefits of Honey for Burns, Wounds and Leg Ulcers

Honey is a wonderful first aid treatment for burns and cuts as it is a natural antiseptic. If you cover burns with honey the skin will not blister as badly, and cuts will heal with little pain or swelling.

Any open wound or leg ulcer that has been difficult to heal will heal rapidly with honey, as long as it is pure honey. Honey speeds up the healing process due to the fact that it contains properties that stimulate the blood circulation on  the edges of wounds.

The Benefits of Honey as a Natural Beauty Treatment for your Skin

Honey has long been included in the making of soaps and other natural homemade beauty products. The vitamins and minerals in the honey nourish and moisturize the skin. Mix honey with oatmeal or bran, and your skin will be more elastic than usual. Mix some honey with olive oil after your shower. Leave it on for 10 minutes, and then remove. Your skin will feel lovely and soft.

Mix honey and egg whites together to soothe tired eyes. Mix honey with lemon juice or apple cider and use it as an astringent for oily skin.

Another benefit of honey is for those using it for rosacea.  Mix the honey with a little rain water or spring water to loosen it. The spread it over the affected area. Leave for 3 hours, and then rinse off. Within 2 weeks you should notice the difference.

Honey as a Face Mask

Honey masks on your skin have a number of benefits. This is because honey is a natural humectant, meaning that it draws free water from deep within the cells and brings it to the surface of the skin. As a result, any honey mask that you use on your face and skin will make your skin plump and will temporarily iron out fine wrinkles.

Honey masks will also rehydrate dry skin and help red, irritated areas. As a result, honey masks are excellent for treating acne and skin blemishes. Use the recipes below twice a week for good results.

A simple honey mask is just using 2 teaspoons of organic honey on your face. Leave for 20 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Another honey mask using honey and milk is to take 2 teaspoons organic honey and 2 teaspoons full milk or whole cream.  Warm slightly in a microwave. Place on face for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

Honey Benefits in Baking

We all know that white sugar is deadly. Not only can you substitute sugar for honey in your tea, coffee and on your cereal, but you can also substitute sugar for honey in baking.

Use the same amount of honey as you would for sugar, but reduce the liquid content by a quarter. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup milk, use 1/2 cup honey, but only 3/4 cup milk.

Also, the honey seems to have a slightly acid reaction that will upset the balance of baking powder or self-raising flour. To overcome this, when completely substituting honey for the sugar in a cake recipe, add half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for each cup of honey used in the recipe.

Note, that food baked with honey will brown faster, and therefore should be baked at a lower temperature - at 20°C less than the recipe says.

Health Benefits of Honey in Jam Making

Using honey instead of sugar is preferable as you only end up using half the normal sugar needed.

Here is an Easy Jam Recipe using Honey:

3 pounds fruit
1.5 pounds honey
juice of 1 lemon

Cut up the fruit, discard the stones or seeds. Cover with the honey and let to soak overnight. In the morning add some lemon juice and boil until it jells when dropped on a cold saucer. This is a good recipe using plums, peaches, or apricots. By adding a few drops of oil or a small bit of butter scum will be prevented from forming when cooking the jam.

Using Honey to Make Fruit Sauces:

If you want to make a sauce use peeled but whole plums, peaches or apricots with the stones still in the fruit. Use the same fruit to honey ratio as the jam recipe, but add a bottle of cider vinegar to the mixture, plus a teaspoon each of your favorite spices such as ginger, cayenne,  all-spice, cloves etc. Boil together for half and hour, or until the stones separate from the fruit. Rub through a strainer with the back of a spoon, boil briefly again and bottle.

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