Honey – What Is It In Reality?
Let’s first introduce you to honey. Honey is a sweet thick liquid which is found in the nest of honey bees and is made by them. This is actually the nectar of flowers which is collected by honey bees and is then stored in their nest.
It contains mono saccharides, glucose and fructose which are types of carbohydrates. The sweetness of honey comes from the fact that it has up to 80% sugar content in it with the remaining 20% consumed by water and other minerals. The great thing about honey is that it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties which give it its healing power. The benefits of honey have been quoted by ancient historians as well and it can be found in Greek, Roman and Islamic texts.
Honey had been used several centuries ago as a medicine due to its antibacterial properties and other benefits which are now proven by science. It was given to people who were having food imbalance in their body. It was also used to heal wounds by ancient Egyptians. Not only this, Greeks used to eat honey with the belief that it helped in having a long healthy life.
What are the Components present in Honey?
To understand its health benefits, it is vital to first know its composition. Honey contains the following compounds in these proportions.
- Ash: 0.2%
- Sucrose: 1.3%
- Fructose: 38.2%
- Glucose: 31.3%
- Maltose: 7.1%
- Water: 17.2%
- Higher sugars: 1.5%
- Other compounds: 3.2%
In addition to this, honey has a pH between 3 and 4.5 which makes it slightly acidic in nature. This further supports its antibacterial quality since acidity kills germs and bacteria. It also has anti-oxidants in it which enable it to wash away free radicals (Altman). It contains 17% water which enables it to fill the water gap in the body of the consumer.
If we broadly look at honey, it appears to be a golden treasure of nature and the way it is composed seems mysterious in itself. It is the nectar of flowers, sucked by bees, stored in their houses and turned into a golden elixir with several benefits. It seems a magical liquid which is extremely sweet in taste and is finger licking good. Another striking thing about honey is that it has no expiry date. Its taste and quality is never destroyed and it will be the same even if it is stored for several years.
This thing is proved from the fact that when the tombs of ancient Egyptians were excavated, pots of honey were found and the honey in them was as perfect as was collected freshly at that time. In addition to this, it contains 17% water but is not a loose fluid. It is thick and it does not freeze even if it is kept in cold. When the nectar is collected by bees, they add an enzyme to it called glucose oxidase which give it its anti-oxidant power and enable it to make a byproduct of hydrogen peroxide.
What else? It prevents inflammation and was used by Egyptians in ancient’s days to cure eye diseases. Some more interesting facts about honey are that it can be used for almost anything and everything. It helps in treatment of all types of diseases. Small problems like dry hair or big ones like cancer, honey has cure for all.
Jotting down the Benefits
Let’s now have a look at some of the many benefits of this great natural treasure.
Sore Throat and Cough
Honey has been used for thousands of years to get rid of sore throat and fever. It has been particularly used by singers who prefer to sing at high notes as it strengthens your vocal cords and lubricates your throat. It has good effect on your voice box and enables you to have a steady and stable voice. A study was conducted at Penn State College of Medicine in 2007 which involved 139 children.
These children were having the trouble of night time cough. They were made part of an experiment where half of them were given a cough suppressant called dextromethorphan and the other half was given honey as medicine.
The result of this study showed better performance of honey than the cough suppressants and was more effective in helping children in getting rid of these coughs. Another study was conducted in which 270 children were given two table spoons of honey every night before they slept to see the impact of honey on cough from cold. It showed that children coughed less frequently and slept calmly at night.
Honey is also an efficient memory booster. It has chemicals in it which have a good impact on the performance of your brain and helps you in remembering things properly. The reason for this is that the use of honey cleans your body from harmful substances and improves blood flow to the brain. This improves the work ability of brain and enables you to perform better.
Antiseptic and Healing Power
The most interesting use of honey to date has been its use as an antiseptic. Due to its acidity, it helps in treating wounds by killing germs and its thick layer on a wound helps in preventing germs and bacteria from entering the body through the wound. A study was conducted in Norway in which honey was used on wounds to see its antiseptic powers. It was revealed that honey killed all bacteria in the wound and cleaned it.
In another study, a batch of 59 people was taken who had some serious kinds of wounds which were not healed by allopathic medicines. When those wounds were treated with honey, a considerable difference was seen and the wounds started healing. It also healed the ulcers in some patients who were part of this study. Honey is also very good for treatment of a burn as it has a soothing effect and can be directly applied to the wound.
Honey is composed of a lot of nutrients as has been shown above. These nutrients are extremely important for the growth of our body and its proper functioning. Even if these nutrients are present in minute amounts in honey, the daily consumption of honey ensures that your body is getting its daily share of them. Making use of honey in place of sugar saves you from a number of diseases and enables you to have the same amount of sweetness in your life.
Maintain your White Blood Cells Count
It has been noticed that honey has the ability to save your body from going low on white blood cells. It can be used for chemotherapy to prevent a decrease in your white blood cells. An experiment was performed on cancer patients in whom 40% were on the verge of having neutropenia which is a disease of having low white blood cells in the body. These patients were given two tea spoons of honey daily and the result was that they started recovering from this disease. This shows the great benefit of honey and its use in therapies and medical treatments.
Relief from Allergies
Honey is a good treatment for allergies as well. Its antiseptic power and anti-inflammatory properties enable it to fight against allergies and give a soothing effect. Though this thing has not been proven by any clinical study so far but it is said that the nectar in honey has some part of pollen in it which helps the body in building immunity against allergies.
Cancels out the Negativity of Alcohol
Honey is known for its ability to metabolize alcohol and save you from intoxication. It helps the body in washing away the harmful effects of alcohol and reduces the level of alcohol in blood rapidly.
Honey helps in giving you a healthy scalp and fights dandruff. Dandruff arises when your head or hair become too dry. In a study, people having high levels of dandruff were told to use a paste of honey mixed with warm water on the dandruff area (Kumar). The paste remained on them for three hours after which it was washed. It helped in giving relief from itching and within seven days of using this paste, their dandruff problem was solved. This shows the highly beneficial properties of honey which cannot be overlooked.
Great Source of Energy
As the composition of honey mentioned above shows that it contains a lot of carbohydrates, it can be used as a good source of energy. Honey is good for giving strength to your body and in improving your performance. It is very beneficial for athletes and it helps in boosting their stamina. It saves them from muscle fatigue and makes them bear the workout pressure. It is very rich in glucose which is readily absorbed by the body and instantly converted into energy which keeps us going. It also helps in maintaining the sugar levels in the body and enabling the body to use the right amount of energy at the right time.
For those who are in sports and want to increase their stamina, a good way to do that is by the intake of honey before workout. It will help them in doing more workouts as it gives more energy and strength to the body (MNN – Mother Nature Network). In addition to this, honey can be used to get rid of laziness and morning sickness. Instead of using coffee and tea to wake up in the morning, it’s better to start your day with honey which will keep you healthy and energetic for the entire day.
Honey is also good for the health of children. It helps in keeping children active at school and enables them to pay attention in their classes. Using honey in breakfast instead of fast food will keep your children healthy and active throughout the day and will help them in growing at a good pace.
Build Your Immunity
Honey helps you in building your immunity and boosting your digestive system. It is good to take one teaspoon honey and mix it in warm water with some lemon juice. This helps in washing away harmful things from your body, improving your digestive system and enabling you to reduce your weight by burning additional fats. It is a good way of losing weight and saves you from extensive diet plans which are actually bad for your health. In addition to this, honey used with vinegar can be used as a treatment for arthritis.
If a person is underweight, he can use honey in warm milk which helps in improving digestive system and healthy weight gain. As has been mentioned before, honey contains anti-oxidants which play an important role in pushing away the risk of heart attack by fighting against cholesterol. Honey keeps the cholesterol level in the body not more than what is required which enables you to have a healthy body.
In the light of the above mentioned benefits of honey for our body, it can be noticed that it actually is a gift of nature for us. It is a complex mixture of so many thinks which awe human wisdom and makes us think twice about this magical thing. While scientists are now developing medicines for ailments, nature gave us the right treatment for a number of ailments in the form of honey many thousands of years ago. It is now our will to choose between natural things or artificial products to keep ourselves healthy and happy. The choice is yours!
 Ciezadlo, Annia. Day Of Honey. New York: Free Press, 2011. Print.
 Kumar, Vijaya. The Secret Benefits Of Lemon And Honey. Elgin, Ill.: New Dawn Press, 2007. Print.
 MNN - Mother Nature Network,. '10 Health Benefits Of Honey'. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
 Traynor, Joe. Honey, The Gourmet Medicine. Bakersfield, CA: Kovak Books, 2002. Print.