Honey for Your Health

This age-old natural elixir can help with winter woes.

Honey for Your Health

Image licensed by Ingram Publishing

Long weeks of winter lie ahead. Chilly weather and decreased daylight can be harsh on the body and spirit. Thankfully, a little pick-me-up is no further away than the honey jar in your cupboard.

We love it in our tea and on our toast, but honey has a long history beyond its popularity as a sweetener. It was valued by the ancients for its healing and rejuvenating properties, and sealed combs of honey have been found in Egyptian tombs fully preserved and still edible.

Now recent studies suggest that for certain maladies, honey may be an effective treatment option. Rosanna Mattingly, author of Honey Maker: How the Honey Bee Worker Does What She Does, says that honey can be used as a wound treatment, a cough suppressant, and a source of energy. These are just a few examples of “the benefits of honey for which scientific evidence exists,” she notes.

Take a look at what this age-old golden elixir can do for your family.

Energy booster. Honey is full of carbs, and research shows that consuming honeyed water before, during, and after a workout increases energy and promotes muscle recovery. Your kids can add that much-needed oomph to the middle of their school day by eating a cream cheese and honey sandwich, or using the sweet stuff as a dip for apple slices. And be ready with a mug of steamed milk and honey as an after school treat.

Cough control. Mixing honey with lemon and warm water has been a longtime home remedy for soothing a sore throat and quieting a cough. A recent study found that a spoonful of honey “was significantly superior to no treatment or honey-flavoured dextromethorphan (the cough suppressant typically added to over-the-counter cough medicine) for cough frequency and severity, bothersome nature of the cough, and the child/parent sleep quality, as rated by parents,” according to the Canadian Paediatric Society. This is good news, since it is considered unsafe to use dextromethorphan to treat children younger than six.

Wound treatment. Honey has been used to treat wounds for centuries, and now there’s plenty of science to back up this remedy of yore. Honey contains an enzyme that produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic, when diluted with fluids from a wound. So when skin becomes dry enough to crack at the knuckles or lips, a topical application of honey makes the wound less hospitable to bacteria and fungi.

Skin softener. Dry winter air can wreak havoc on skin and hair, and there’s a good reason so many beauty products tout honey as an ingredient. Honey is a natural humectant; it attracts and holds water from the atmosphere. When applied to the skin or hair, it acts as a moisturizer. So drizzle a little honey straight from the jar onto your face or hair, smooth it in, and rinse after 10 minutes. Or try mixing honey with coconut oil and heated beeswax for a rejuvenating homemade cream for lips, face, and hands.

Antioxidant advantage. Ounce for ounce, honey packs the same powerful punch as popular antioxidant-containing fruits and veggies. In addition to eating plenty of greens, strengthen your defense against cancer-causing free radicals by replacing other sweeteners with honey. Applied topically, the antioxidant therapy may restore vitality to your skin.


Author: Ashley Talmadge

Ashley Talmadge is a freelance writer and the mother of two tech-savvy boys.

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