Lots of us may like to use a little honey as a sweetener for our morning coffee, toast or tea, but there are several uses for this tasty little treat - in its pure, raw, non-pasteurized form, it can do more than just bring a smile to our face.
Manuka honey as the new 'superfood.' What is Manuka honey, scientifically known as Leptospermum Scoparium?
Well, it is honey that is produced by bees that pollinate Manuka trees, which grow almost exclusively in the East Cape region of New Zealand. Because it's a bit of a rarity, it also tends to be pricier but according to Britain's Telegraph newspaper, a recent survey of people who bought it showed that 58 percent believed it to be better than ordinary honey - even if they didn't really know why.
This might be why. Manuka honey has a long reputation for offering a number of health benefits. For New Zealanders, local honey containing local pollen can help reduce the effects of hay fever, but for everyone else, Manuka honey has antiviral and antibacterial actions, which is why lots of people familiar with this superfood's qualities down it at the first hint of a cold or sore throat.
"According to doctors, Manuka honey's high sugar content creates a waterless environment in which the bacteria that are infecting a wound are unable to survive. Also, thanks to the presence of an enzyme called glucose oxidase, it is acidic, which apparently adds to its unique antibacterial properties," the Telegraph said.
"The therapeutic potential of uncontaminated, pure honey is grossly underutilized," says Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "It is widely available in most communities and although the mechanism of action of several of its properties remains obscure and needs further investigation, the time has now come for conventional medicine to lift the blinds off this 'traditional remedy' and give it its due recognition."
Honey as a natural energy booster. Do you down an energy bar or drink during your hectic day? Try a spoonful of honey instead; it's been proven to deliver a significant boost of energy to athletes performing strenuous exercise.
"Numerous studies have singled out carbohydrates as a critical nutrient in endurance exercise," says Richard Kreider of the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory. "Most of the studies to date have shown supplementation with glucose to provide the extra staying power. We were pleased to find that honey, a 'cocktail' of various natural sugars, performed just as well."
Forget the fancy facial creams. Raw honey is exceptional for your face and skin, according to research. Try a "Gentle Honey Wash" consisting of a dollop of honey mixed with two tablespoons of warm water in the palm of your hand, then gently massage the mixture into your face or skin.
"Honey has long been valued in Asia for its natural medicinal properties. Combined with rice bran, honey is used there to treat diaper rash and even acne. Honey is also an excellent treatment for dry skin as it stimulates good circulation and helps to seal in moisture," says holistic skin care expert Ettia Tal.
You can even make your own honey moisturizer, says travel and food writer Anna Brones: "If you've got a handful of sweet smelling herbs -- think lavender -- laying around and ready to be used, why not use them for your own homemade honey lotion? Warm honey over a saucepan until it gets to a liquid consistency. Pour honey over herbs and cap tightly; the ratio you want to use is one tablespoon of herbs per eight ounces of honey. Let sit for a week and then mix one teaspoon of liquid into an eight ounce bottle of unscented lotion."
Having trouble sleeping? "A spoonful of honey before bed (by itself or in a cup of warm herbal tea) is a natural sleep remedy that can help you relax and fall asleep faster," writes Natural News' Elizabeth Walling.
Suppress that cough and throat irritation. Pure, non-pasteurized honey is an excellent elixir for common wintertime ailments like coughs, colds and sore throats.
"Honey helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey. In a study of 110 children, a single dose of buckwheat honey was just as effective as a single dose of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep," writes health enthusiast and researcher Diana Herrington.
Boost your immune system with this natural antibiotic. According to recent research, defensin-1, a protein added to honey by bees, possesses antibacterial properties and could be used against drug-resistant bacteria. This bee-produced protein "could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections," says a summary of the research published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Balance the five elements "Honey has been used in ayurvedic medicine in India for at least 4000 years and is considered to affect all three of the body's primitive material imbalances positively," says Herrington. "It is also said to be useful useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea."