This sticky sweet stuff has been on the table since as early as 2400 BC. In addition to offering sweetness, honey has incredible health applications.
Comb Confusion: Raw vs. Processed Honey
Let’s begin by establishing the difference between raw and processed honey. Raw honey goes straight from the hive to your kitchen. Its chemical makeup hasn’t been tampered with, unlike most of the honeys you’ll find in the grocery store. Many of these honey products experience processing through intense heat and straining. This process leaves the honey a beautiful clear, amber color; however, it also removes any of the wax, bacteria, and extras left behind, changing the honey’s makeup. While this processing is not inherently bad, it actually removes many of the proteins, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals beneficial to your body. Honey needs to be handled at a more moderate temperature to maintain its nutritional benefits.
Important: Never give honey to children younger than age one. An infant’s immune system cannot process botulinum spores sometimes present in honey. In addition, consult a medical professional before using honey as a medical substitute.
What can honey be used for?
What can honey be used for in Beauty and Pampering?
Honey is an excellent beauty resource because of its moisturizing qualities.
Shine and condition your hair
This honey recipe will smooth your hair and soothe a dry scalp. Combine one teaspoon of honey and a half cup of warm milk. Apply all over the hair from root to tips and follow with a shampoo rinse.
Wash your face or bathe with honey
A dollop of honey mixed with a little warm water moisturizes your face. Massage the slightly diluted honey all over and then rinse with lukewarm water. Straight honey also makes a great facial mask for dry or windburned skin. Apply and leave for about 20 minutes, then rinse.
In the bath, add 3 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This combination creates soft, conditioned skin that also smells lovely. Honey and milk also make for a soothing beauty bath (one of Cleopatra’s favorite ways to pamper herself).
Soothe chapped/dry lips
First exfoliate the lips with a little brown sugar and olive oil. Next, mix a teaspoon of plain yogurt and a half teaspoon of honey. Spread this over lips, and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with a warm washcloth, pat dry and smooth on some lip balm.
What Can honey be used for in health and wellness?
Honey also has medicinal qualities and can be used to soothe and heal.
Clean and treat minor cuts or scrapes
Honey is naturally microbial, which contributes to it lack of expiration. After washing the wound, dab on some honey straight from the jar (using a clean implement) and cover with a band-aid. This a natural and soothing antibiotic ointment. If you have access to Manuka honey, this is even better.
Because of honey’s natural anti-microbial properties, it is a great treatment for the occasional pimple. Dab on and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse off and repeat the next day.
Treat Cold Sores
Ninety percent of the population have the herpes-1 virus and forty percent get repeated cold sores throughout their lives. A study in Dubai actually found that honey works just as well as drugstore topical ointments to treat cold sores, and is even better at cutting down itchiness. Apply directly and let it absorb into the sore.
Soothe mosquito bites
Once again, honey’s antibacterial properties come to the rescue! Dab a little honey on a mosquito bite to reduce itch and irritation, as well as to help prevent infection.
There’s a type of insomnia called “early waking.” You don’t have trouble falling asleep, but you wake up after a few hours and struggle to get back to sleep. This form of sleep disturbance is upsetting and can cause exhaustion. A teaspoon of honey with a sprinkling of salt will help reset the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones are responsible for keeping you awake.
Honey has been used for ages in India to soothe nervousness, so whether you add a dollop to some chamomile tea (also good for anxiety) or mix a little honey with some lemon juice and a little minced ginger (as recommended by TV’s Dr. Oz), honey will help calm you, and works especially well when your nerves are affecting your stomach.
Soothe a cough
Honey works as well as many over-the-counter cough medicines to soothe and quiet a cough. You can take it “straight” or mix it with a little lemon juice and coconut oil, for an even more effective cough quieter.
So be sure to pack some honey in your first-aid kit for your next road trip, hike, or camping expedition, and add a jar to your bathroom beauty stash! Who knew that honey is for more than just satisfying a sweet tooth!
Supplement for Allergies
Hay fever and seasonal allergies can actually benefit from consuming local, raw honey. Since bees are pollinating local flowers to produce their honey, you will probably ingest particles of the specific pollen from your geographical environment. Immune systems becomes stronger when fighting bacteria and viruses. A little bit of exposure to pollen and allergens through honey can eventually desensitize you to them. Processed honey loses some of these benefits because of the heat.
For thousands of years people have used honey to treat burns. One Mayo Clinic found that honey treated burns faster and more effectively than silver sulfadiazene cream, the antibiotic ointment commonly used to treat 2nd and 3rd degree burns. They found that honey led to enhanced healing, less scarring, and worked faster than the silver cream to sterilize wounds.
Use Raw Honey as a Diabetic Sweetener
Since raw honey tastes sweeter than white sugar and is absorbed much slower into your blood, it is an excellent sweetener for those with an insulin disorder, like diabetes. The Glycemic Index runs from 0 to 100 and measures how quickly sugars are absorbed into your bloodstream: zero means it is absorbed at an extremely slow rate, and 100 would be absorbed almost immediately. Before processing, raw honey falls around 30-40 on the glycemic index. This makes it a suitable sweetener. It is important to note that processed honey falls at about 80-90 on the scale. That is the same as white sugar! This means that processing honey through heat and straining changes the way your body digests its compounds. Whether you have an insulin disorder or not, raw honey is a great option to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
If you would like to preserve the healing and beauty-enhancing qualities of raw honey, look into Powerblanket’s Bee Blanket, or honey heater, to protect your honey. The Bee Blanket maintains the temperature of the hive and protects all of the enzymes and antibiotic qualities.