Dating back more than 5,000 years honey is one of the oldest medicines known to human-kind. British researchers have now proven that honey prevents infections and eliminates the need for antibiotics and it is the primary ingredient of many skin and hair care products. So whether it's at the spa or at home, from cupboard to face, let honey work its magic!
From Cleopatra’s rumoured honey and milk baths to a basic at-home remedy for a black eye, honey is as practical as it is sweet. A natural humectant—meaning, it attracts and maintains moisture—honey is widely used as a primary ingredient in a variety of skincare and hair products. Its powerful anti-oxidant properties are beneficial for soothing wounds, bruises and common skin irritations including dry skin and acne, while many advocates expect it to be the next breakthrough ingredient in commercial sunscreen products for its natural restorative properties and preliminary studies suggest that its bacteria-killing properties may prove to be a natural alternative medicine. Honey is a beneficial asset for DIY face masks or body scrubs, and its long shelf life makes it an essential household staple, but there are also plenty of pre-made products that spotlight its winning components.
Honey which has not been pasteurized or filtered is consider the best to use. Raw honey taken directly from the hive can be used not only to sweeten your tea, but to treat cuts and scrapes, alleviate asthma, calm nerves and when added to warm milk, helps you to relax and sleep better. It is a natural source of vitamins, mineral and enzymes known for their healing powers.
Here is what one honey expert has uncovered...
The list of honey's beneficial functions is a long one. Honey increases calcium absorption; can increase hemoglobin count and treat or prevent anemia caused by nutritional factors; can help arthritic joints, when combined with apple cider vinegar; fights colds and respiratory infections of all kinds; can help to boost gastrointestinal ulcer healing; works as a natural and gentle laxative; aids constipation, allergies and obesity; provides an array of vitamins and minerals; and supplies instant energy without the insulin surge caused by white sugar. Many have found raw honey helpful for its positive effects against allergies and hay fever, and one or two teaspoons last thing at night can help with insomnia. As an antiseptic, honey is also a drawing agent for poisons from bites or stings or infected wounds, and has outperformed antibiotics in treatments for stomach ulcerations, gangrene, surgical wound infections, surgical incisions and the protection of skin grafts, corneas, blood vessels and bones during storage and shipment.
Researchers believe that the therapeutic potential of honey is grossly underutilized. With increasing interest in the use of alternative therapies and as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, honey may finally receive its due recognition as a wound healer. Indeed, it works: Raw honey makes a sterile, painless and effective wound dressing. Apply it directly to open cuts, abrasions and burns, and cover it with a piece of gauze. The results will occur quicker than with conventional alternatives, such as salves and creams.
Honey is also exceptionally effective for respiratory ailments. One Bulgarian study of almost 18,000 patients found that it improved chronic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, chronic and allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. It's an effective treatment for colds, flu, respiratory infections and a generally depressed immune system. Whereas sugar shuts down the immune system, a good quality honey will stimulate it into action.
Here are some more ways to utilize the healing power of honey:
BURNS - Apply freely over burns. It cools, removes pain and aids fast healing without scarring. Apart from being a salve and an antibiotic, bacteria simply cannot survive in honey.
INSOMNIA - A dessertspoon of honey in a mug of warm milk aids sleep and works wonders.
HYPERACTIVITY - Replace all use of white sugar with honey. White sugar is highly stimulating with no food qualities. Honey provides the energy without the "spike."
NASAL CONGESTION - Place a dessertspoon of honey in a basin of water and inhale fumes after covering your head with a towel over the basin. Very effective!
FATIGUE - Dissolve a dessertspoon of honey in warm water or quarter honey balance of water in a jug and keep in the fridge. Honey is primarily fructose and glucose, so it's quickly absorbed by the digestive system. Honey is a unique natural stabilizer: Ancient Greek athletes took honey for stamina before competing and as a reviver after competition.
FACIAL DEEP CLEANSER - Mix honey with an equal quantity of oatmeal, and apply as a face pack. Leave on for half an hour, then wash it off. Great as a deep cleanser for acne and other unwanted blemishes.
HAIR CONDITIONER - Mix honey with an equal quantity of olive oil, cover head with a warm tower for half an hour then shampoo off. Feeds hair and scalp. Your hair will never look or feel better!
SORE THROATS - Let a teaspoon of honey melt in the back of the mouth and trickle down the throat. Eases inflamed raw tissues.
FOR STRESS - Honey in water is a stabilizer, calming highs and raising lows. Use approximately 25 percent honey to water.
FOOD PRESERVATIVE – If you replace the sugar in cake and cookie recipes with honey, they'll stay fresher longer due to honey's natural antibacterial properties. Reduce liquids in the mixture by about one-fifth to allow for the moisture present in the in honey.
LONGEVITY - The most long-lived people in the world are all regular users of honey. An interesting fact, yet to be explained, is that beekeepers suffer less from cancer and arthritis than any other occupational group worldwide. MIGRAINE - Use a dessertspoon of honey dissolved in half a glass of warm water. Sip at the start of a migraine attack, and, if necessary, repeat after another 20 minutes.
COUGH MIXTURE – Combine 6 ounces (170 grams) liquid honey, 2 ounces (55 grams) glycerine and the juice of two lemons. Mix well. Bottle and cork firmly, and use as required.
Raw honey may become granulated, as some does after a week and another maybe only after several years. If the granulations bother you, simply place the honey into a pan of hot water (not boiling) and let it stand until becoming liquid again.
Kelly Joyce Neff has an interdisciplinary degree in Celtic Studies which includes work in cultural anthropology, history, linguistics, language, and literature. She is a traditional midwife and herbalist, a reiki master, and an active craftsperson. She lives in San Francisco.
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