Honey naturally contains nutrients and enzymes that have a variety of health benefits and medical uses. Perhaps that’s why it has been used as a folk remedy throughout history. Today, honey is still a popular food and is even used in some hospitals as a medical treatment for wounds. However, these health benefits are specific to raw honey.
Manufacturers process most of the honey you find in grocery stores. Heating the honey helps improve the color and texture, and removes any unwanted crystallization. Many of the beneficial antioxidants and bacteria are also removed or destroyed in the process.
Raw honey contains the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus kunkeei. It has been found that this probiotic bacteria is not only used by honeybees: It is also contained in the honey, bee pollen and royal jelly produced in the hive. This also means that by eating raw honey, we may be consuming this probiotic bacteria as well.
If you’re interested in trying raw honey, buy it from a trusted local producer. In the meantime, check out some of the health benefits raw honey has to offer
A Good Source of Antioxidants
Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds. Some types of honey have as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals.
Free radicals contribute to the aging process and may also contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Studies show that polyphenols in honey may play a role in preventing heart disease.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
Raw honey can kill unwanted bacteria and fungus. It naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic. Several hospitals in Europe have used Manuka honey to fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacterial infection that’s become resistant to antibiotics. The effectiveness of honey as an antibacterial or antifungal depends on the type of honey.
Help for Digestive Issues
Honey is sometimes used to treat digestive issues such as diarrhea, though there isn’t much research to show that it works. However, it’s proven to be effective as a treatment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a common cause of peptic ulcers. (Peptic ulcers occur in the stomach or digestive system.) Taking 1-2 teaspoons on an empty stomach is said to soothe pain and help with the healing process.
Soothe a Sore Throat
Have a cold? Try a spoonful of honey. Honey is an old sore throat remedy. Try adding it to hot tea with lemon. It also works as a cough suppressant.
Research shows that honey is as effective as dextromethorphan, a common over-the-counter cough medicine ingredient, in treating a cough. Just eat one or two teaspoons straight.
In addition to beneficial bacteria and nutrients, raw honey can also carry harmful bacteria such as botulism. This is particularly dangerous for babies, so you should never feed raw honey to babies less than a year old.
Botulism causes symptoms similar to food poisoning (e.g. nausea, vomiting, fever) in adults. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after eating raw honey.