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The Health Benefits of Honey

November 9, 2010

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Honey has long been used as food, a sweetener, in skin care, for medicinal purposes and in several other facets of everyday living.  Honey has been in use for over 10,000 years, with several different cultures using it in different aspects of life. For some honey is part of a religious belief that is held sacred and for others honey has long been used for health and medicinal purposes. No matter how honey has been used it has stood the test of time and continued to prove itself as a worthy and valuable food source.



            Honey is a sweet, sticky, and sumptuous food that can be consumed alone or as an additive, sweetener or topping for other foods. Bees produce honey as their main food source. By collecting sugar rich flower nectar bees can create honey through a long refining and regurgitation process. Honey is stored within the honeycombs to be used during cold seasons or scarcity.  Beekeepers develop hives that allow the bees to overproduce honey, which allows the beekeepers to remove the excess for human consumption. Honey is available in several different flavors depending upon the nectar source.



            Although, the original discovery of honey is unknown, the use of honey by humans dates back over 10000 years ago. Not only was honey used in several different ancient societies such as Ancient Egypt, Middle Eastern, the Roman Empire, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Mesoamerica it has also been sited in several religious context such as Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jewish tradition, the Hebrew Bible, Christian New Testament, and the Qur'an. For many in ancient times honey was sacred. It anointed the dead, blessed marriage through the bride’s fingertips, marked the New Year, commemorated festivals, and was a healthy and nutritious food.



            As a food source honey is mainly made up of fructose and glucose, both of which are easily used and broken down by the body. In addition smaller amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are seen in most honey mixtures.  Honey has a wide variety of uses in cooking and baking. Mainly used as a sweetener in baking or as an additive to beverages such as tea. In addition honey is used in several sauces to add additional flavors and can be consumed in alcoholic beverages such as honey wine or honey beer. Although, consuming honey alone is not restricted or prohibited it is usually only done for medicinal or healing purposes.



            For the last 3,000 years honey has been used in medicinal treatments, treating ailments and maintaining a healthy body. However, its antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties have only recently been discovered scientifically. Consumption, mixture or topical uses are all available applications for medicinal honey. Applying honey to a wound or cut can clean an infection and seal the wound from the outer environment. The antioxidants present in honey can reduce free radicals and kill infections caused within the body. Honey can reduce the common cough and sore throat therefore reducing the effects and length of time of a cold or flu. Other uses include topical treatments to reduce wrinkles, odors, swelling, and scarring as well as ingestion to reduce symptoms of allergies.



            Eastern cultures and religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Ayurveda use honey throughout their daily living. They consider it to be one of the five elixirs that keeps the body young and healthy. Consuming honey daily helps to lead to a long healthy life.