The fresh and mild sweetness of honey, also called ‘golden liquid’, goes well with tea, coffee, lemon water or peanut butter in sandwiches. In fact, honey is one of the oldest natural ingredients known to mankind.
For centuries, different cultures have used this sweet substance made by bees from the nectar of flowers for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The practice of beekeeping dates back to 2400 BC in Cairo, Egypt. Even the famed ancient beauty Cleopatra would soak in a honey and milk bath to maintain her timeless beauty.
Raw honey, the one that has not been pasteurized and has no added ingredients, has strong antibacterial, antiseptic, antioxidant and antifungal properties. A rich source of natural sugars, honey also contains riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B12 and C, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
The health and healing benefits of honey are endless. In fact, you will be surprised to learn about the amazing uses of honey.
Important note: Raw honey should not be given to babies younger than 1 year of age, as it can cause botulism. Botulism causes symptoms similar to food poisoning.
Here are the top 10 surprising and unbelievable uses of honey.
1. Heals Wounds
When you have a minor wound or cut, instead of looking for that over-the-counter antiseptic cream, just grab your jar of honey.
Honey works as a natural antiseptic and has many antimicrobial properties that can sterilize wounds and promote healing, while also reducing pain, odor and the size of the wound.
It also has a vital component called glucose oxidase, an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. This adds to honey’s wound-healing capabilities.
A 2011 study published in Scientific World Journal supports the use of honey for wound healing as it stimulates tissue growth. It also reduces the risk of developing an infection, thanks to its antioxidant and hydrogen peroxide content.
Simply put a layer of pure honey, preferably manuka honey (medical grade), on the site of wound and cover with a gauze and bandage, if required. Repeat a few times a day, as needed.
2. Treats Minor Burns
When working in the kitchen, stoking a cozy fire or setting off fireworks, many of us experience minor burns.
Raw honey can soothe and heal the skin, and its natural antibacterial properties effectively prevent infection.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery found that honey dressings sterilize the wounds in burn patients in less time, enhance healing and produce better outcomes in terms of hypertrophic scars and postburn contractures, as compared to silver sulfadiazine dressing.
- Simply dab some honey onto a minor burn, lightly covering the affected area like an antibiotic ointment. Repeat as needed until the wound is healed.
Note: Make sure to have rinsed the site of burn under cool running water immediately after getting the burn.
3. Soothes Sore Throats and Coughs
When you’ve got a sore throat or a cough, have a spoonful of honey for instant relief. Even the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend honey as a natural cough remedy.
Honey works as a cough suppressant. It also helps clear out the mucus and soothe your throat.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that a 2.5-mL dose of honey before sleep had a greater alleviating effect on coughs due to upper respiratory infections compared with the commonly used dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine medications.
Another study published in 2014 in Canadian Family Physician concludes that honey can be recommended as a single dose of 2.5 mL before bedtime for children older than 1 year of age who have a cough.
- Simply drink a cup of hot milk or soothing herbal tea with 1 tablespoon of honey twice daily to soothe a sore throat.
4. Beats Insomnia
Another surprising benefit of honey is that it will help you sleep better.
Honey promotes sleep in two ways. First of all, it ensures an adequate supply of liver glycogen during the night while you sleep. This means that when you eat honey before going to bed, your body will have supply of liver glycogen and your brain will not trigger an emergency search for fuel, which can lead to disturbed sleep.
Secondly, honey ensures sound sleep by stimulating the release of insulin and allowing tryptophan to enter the brain easily. This contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone necessary for restorative sleep.
- Before going to bed, drink a cup of herbal tea or a glass of warm milk with 1 teaspoon of honey in it.
5. Treats Seasonal Allergies
Keep a bottle of local honey handy if you are prone to seasonal allergies that cause watery and itchy eyes, a runny nose, a sore throat, coughing, headaches and trouble breathing.
Local honey works as a good natural treatment for seasonal allergies. Consuming local honey on a regular basis will help you develop immunity to local pollen.
A 2011 study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology found that patients who preseasonally used Birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms than those on conventional medication only and marginally better control compared to those on raw honey.
- Get relief from seasonal allergies by taking a few teaspoons of local honey each day. Make sure you use locally made honey, as it contains the pollen from your area that is causing the allergies.
6. Cures a Hangover
Many people enjoy their weekends by indulging in alcoholic beverages – oftentimes, over-indulging. Then, when you wake up after a great night, you’ve got a thumping pain in your head.
Instead of reaching for an aspirin to get rid of the hangover, opt for a bottle of honey. Honey can effectively get the last remnants of alcohol out of your system as the fructose in it helps metabolize alcohol. The fructose in it will also give you a much-needed energy boost.
- Generously spread honey on a piece of toast or a cracker and eat it to help your body process alcohol faster and neutralize the toxins created by your binge drinking. You can also have it with a glass of lemon water for faster results.
7. Heals Peptic Ulcers
Honey can also help treat peptic ulcers caused by Helicobacter Pylori bacteria. Thanks to its potent antibacterial properties, pure honey helps inhibit the growth of these bacteria and eliminate them from the stomach lining.
A 2006 study published in Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal found antibacterial potential in various brands of honey that could help kill the H. pylori bacteria.
Also, honey produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that helps treat stomach ailments like gastritis.
Eat 1 tablespoon of pure local honey or manuka honey daily until your peptic ulcers heal.
8. Heals Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that causes redness, blisters, itching and even lesions. Honey can provide relief from these symptoms by treating the skin irritation.
Its moisturizing property forms a protective layer on broken skin and promotes healing. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory compounds that fight inflammation and boost the immune system.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Open found that Kanuka honey may have similar efficacy to aqueous cream in the management of psoriasis. However, this requires confirmation through further study.
- Rub some honey on your dry, patchy skin. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before washing it off. Do it 1 or 2 times a day as needed.
9. Improves Hair Health
Honey is great for your hair, too. Its moisturizing and antioxidant properties help keep your hair soft and silky.
It also works as a scalp cleanser and keeps the pH level balanced for a healthy scalp.
A 2001 study published in the European Journal of Medical Research reports that the therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey may markedly improve seborrheic dermatitis and associated hair loss, and prevent relapses when applied weekly.
- After shampooing your hair, coat the ends with a bit of honey. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out. Do this every time you shanpoo your hair to keep them soft and smooth.
- Another option is to add 1 teaspoon of honey to 1 quart of water, and use the solution as a rinse after washing your hair. Let your hair dry naturally.
- For hair loss, mix together 2 tablespoons each of honey and onion juice. Use it to massage your scalp and hair roots. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before washing your hair as usual. Use this remedy twice a week until you are satisfied with the results.
10. Boosts Memory
This natural sweetener can also improve both short-term and long-term memory. This is particularly true in menopausal and postmenopausal women.
In a 2011 study published in Menopause, postmenopausal women were given Tualang honey for 16 weeks. The findings showed much improvement in their immediate memory as compared to women who were given estrogen and progestin hormone therapy.
Another study published in 2015 in Medical Sciences reports that improvement in learning and memory following Tualang honey supplementation is due to the significant improvement in brain morphology and enhancement of the brain cholinergic system, which is possibly secondary to reduction in brain oxidative damage and/or up regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration.
- Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of Tualang honey either in the morning, half an hour before breakfast, or just before going to bed. Do this on a regular basis.