by Angela Ysseldyk, Nutritionist and Beekeeper's Daughter
The incredible list of raw honey benefits is growing by the day as researchers around the globe study this most amazing food. Referenced in many books, including the bible, raw honey can benefit virtually everyone's health due to its unique chemical composition.
Honey is more digestible than any other sweetener, natural or artificial. This is because it is 'predigested' by our bee friends and also contains vast amounts of enzymes and probiotic bacteria. As a result, raw honey is easier on the body and does not cause a huge insulin surge like refined sugar will.
I have compiled a large list of the unique benefits of raw honey below. Click on each benefit to see how it might benefit your health. Be sure to sign up for The Buzz, our free newsletter where I publish all the latest benefits of raw honey as soon as they become available.
If you are overweight and have high cholesterol, raw honey might be a very sweet option for you.
In previous studies, it has been found that honey reduces cardiovascular risk factors such as high LDL (the 'bad' cholesterol) and something called C-reactive protein. This is an indicator of how much inflammation you have in your body. The more inflammation you have equals a higher risk of heart attack.
This study investigated the effect of raw honey on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (your 'good' cholesterol), C-reactive protein, fasting blood glucose, and body fat weight.
There were 55 overweight or obese patients in the study. They were fed either 70 grams of sugar or 70 grams of raw honey for 30 days.
Shockingly, the honey group experienced reductions in all of the measured categories. Raw honey caused a mild reduction in body weight (1.3%) and body fat (1.1%). It also reduced total cholesterol by 3%, LDL by almost 6% and Fasting Blood Glucose by 4%, which is very positive if you have blood sugar issues.
It gets even better. Inflammation was reduced by 3% while good cholesterol increased by 3.3%.
Unfortunately, the study was not done for 60 or 90 days to determine if these benefits continue to increase and cause even greater health improvements.
For those of you looking to use a dose similar to what was used in this study (70 grams), this equates to just over 4 tablespoons per day.
The full study can be found in Scientific World Journal, April 2008.
Most of us are stressed these days. Loads of stress in your life will result in your adrenal glands producing to many stress hormones, with the main one being cortisol.
Cortisol is great in small doses. The problem is most of us don't produce it in small doses anymore. To much cortisol results in the following:
These are just some of the side effects. It can get worse. Over the long haul, chronically elevated cortisol levels can result in total physical breakdown and degenerative disease.
Finding foods that can lower this response in the body is important if health and longevity is one of your goals. Scientists in Malaysia set out to determine if honey supplementation just might aid in the quest to reduce cortisol levels in a high stress environment.
During this time, they stressed the rats out by exercising them hard enough to elevate cortisol levels. Over-exercising is one way to raise cortisol levels. They then gave some of the rats the equivalent of 1 gram of honey per kilogram of bodyweight for eight weeks. The other rats got nothing.
What the researchers found was that the rats that received the honey supplementation had significantly lower levels of cortisol than those rats that exercised but did not receive the honey.
Regular consumption of quality honey has many health benefits. If you are dealing with high levels of stress in your life then supplementation with honey might help protect you from the damage that high cortisol can cause.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Among them, colorectal cancer is strongly linked with one's diet. This is because the epithelial cells (the layer of cells that line the organ) of the colon and rectum come in direct contact with what you eat.
Fortunately, it is known that diets rich in natural phenols are associated with eradicating various diseases, including cancer. Natural phenols are found in abundance in high anti-oxidant foods like honey.
In a review published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry in January of 2016, scientists set out to bring to light the ability of honey and its phytochemicals to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in colorectal cancer.
Honey has been shown in studies to cause the following changes:
The researches went on to call for scientists to "initiate more trials using honey and its phytochemicals to validate honey as a mighty sword against colon cancer."
Colon cancer is the third largest cause of cancer death worldwide. The standard chemotherapeutic agents are usually noneffective in the latter stages of cancer. Alternative options are badly needed.
Because colorectal cancer is linked to the diet consumed, honey is a natural candidate for colon cancer prevention. It is commonly used in daily life by a large percentage of the population, inexpensive and also very easy (and tasty) to administer. Consume 1 - 3 tablespoons per day of raw honey to increase your defenses against colon cancer.
The idea that a food such as Raw Honey, inexpensive and easily available to each of us, can significantly boost and protect our brains is difficult for many of us to imagine. We've been brainwashed to believe that only expensive pharmaceutical drugs or therapies can boost memory, reduce anxiety or stimulate new brain cell growth.
The reality is that raw honey can do these things and there is a large volume of scientific research to validate these claims.
In one study involving postmenopausal women, those who received honey showed improvements in their immediate memory, which is something we could all use.
In another study, the normal diet of rats was supplemented with honey, and their brain function was assessed over a one-year period. The honey-fed rats showed significantly less anxiety and better spatial memory throughout all stages compared to the control group of rats. More importantly, the spatial memory of the honey-fed rats was significantly greater during the later months of the study, suggesting that honey was causing positive changes within the brain through neurogenesis (regeneration of brain cells).
Not only does honey appear to support neurogenesis, but it decreased the number of degenerated cells in the hippocampal CA1 region of the brain. The hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short and long term memory to spatial navigation and is a region of the brain that is known to be highly susceptible to free radical damage. Free radical damage or 'oxidation' is one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia with the hippocampus being one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage.
Fortunately, Raw Honey may offer some protection against this dangerous internal process. Short and long term supplementation with honey at a dose of 250 mg/kg of body weight per day significantly decreased the cell damage (caused by lipid peroxidation) in brain tissue. At the same time, honey boosted levels of the powerful anti-oxidants superoxide-dismutase (SOD) and glutathione indicating a powerful protective effect of your brain tissue.
At this point you are likely wondering just how raw honey does these seemingly magical things in our brains? The answer is quite simple. Raw honey contains compounds with very powerful properties.
Apigenin for example, is a common flavonoid that is frequently identified in honey. It has been suggested that apigenin may have neuroprotective and disease modifying properties in several types of neurodegenerative disorders. It is also known that apigenin stimulates the adult neurogenesis that underlies learning and memory.
Honey contains numerous other compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. While it may take years for the the world to recognize that better brain health awaits them in their pantry, evidence strongly suggests that you should begin today to consume a healthy serving of raw honey everyday if better memory, healthier aging and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease is one of your goals.
Just like any product from the hive, raw honey and all honey for that matter can give people an allergic reaction. An allergy to honey is less common than a perceived “allergic reaction” to bee pollen or royal jelly.
Interestingly enough, there are many people that actually use honey in their allergy and asthma treatments. It is very healing and helps with absorption and carries the healing properties of herbs or remedies.
Click here to read the best article I've come across on using local, raw honey for allergies.
Parents, you should really pay attention to this study.
Scientists recently set out to test the effects of several honey products on the night time cough and resulting sleeping difficulties in children with Upper Respiratory Infections.
The scientists compared the effects of a single nighttime dose of 3 honey products (eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, or labiatae honey) to a placebo.
A survey was administered to parents on 2 consecutive days, first on the day of the presentation when no medication had been given the previous evening, and the following day, when the study preparation was given before bedtime.
This was done based on a double-blind randomization plan (the gold standard of studies that ensures accurate results).
Participants included 300 children aged 1 to 5 years with URIs, nocturnal cough, and illness duration of more than 7 days from 6 general pediatric community clinics.
Eligible children received a single dose of 10 grams of eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, labiatae honey, or placebo administered 30 minutes before bedtime.
The scientists set out to measure cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of cough, and child and parent sleep quality.
What they found was that in all 3 honey products and the placebo group, there was a significant improvement from the night before treatment to the night of treatment. However, the improvement was greater in the honey groups!
Parents rated the honey products higher than the placebo for symptomatic relief of their children's nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty.
So next time your child, or heck - even yourself, come down with a chest cold, reach for a bottle of raw honey. The 10 gram dose used in the study and found to be effective would be roughly one heaping tablespoon.
The full study can be found in the journal Pediatrics, 2012 Aug 6.
The rapid absorption of honey monosacharides, and the slower metabolism of fructose content make honey a popular source of energy for athletes, particularly endurance athletes.
To read about the amazing endurance benefits seen in athletes using honey, click here.
It is excellent for post training as it acts as a fast source of carbohydrates and minerals to replenish depleted glycogen (muscle energy). It also makes a mix to use in your water bottle for endurance athletes for a slow steady source of easy to digest carbohydrates and minerals.
Both my husband and myself use the liquid honey in our water blend. I really like it because it does not cause any type of stomach distress during a training session or race.
Simply take a liquid honey such as our Summer Blossom and poor it into a water bottle or a Fuelbelt Endurance Belt bottle. Consume it just like you would a carbohydrate gel.
***There is now a fantastic honey based sports product called HoneyMaxx available. It uses dried honey powder and is loaded with electrolytes and ginger. It has a very nice, light fruit flavour and you simply mix it with water to create a powerful honey based sport and electrolyte drink. I absolutely love this product. Read more here.
I have found honey to be very useful in the treatment of burns and other wounds in both humans and animals. If you're not a believer, have a look at these pictures of a large horse wound we healed using only raw honey. Warning, they are graphic.
To further explore the skin healing capabilities of honey, researchers decided to study skin graft patients. Skin graft wounds are similar to burn wounds. Not only are they painful but they can be difficult and slow to heal.
For the study, 100 patients who had undergone skin grafts were divided into two groups of 50. One group received honey treatment and the other group received Vaseline gauze on their wounds.
On opening of the dressing on the 7th day, epithelialization (the growth of epithelium over the surface of a wound, which marks the final stage of healing) had occurred in 48 patients as compared to 39 in the Vaseline group. By the 10th day, 100% of the wounds in the honey-treated group had healed, whereas only 76% of wounds healed in Vaseline treated group.
The researchers went on to say that honey not only healed the skin wounds faster, but with less pain and discomfort than Vaseline.
The next time you have a wound, a cut or even a skin blemish, try applying some raw honey to gauze and applying directly to the area. For more serious wounds, you'll need to leave the wound dressed in honey. Apply the honey gauze to the wound before bed and then clean and reapply in the morning. For small skin irritations like acne or 'red spots', apply the raw honey directly to the problem spot. It is not necessary to cover the spot with a band aid but this can be done if you have concern that the honey might be wiped away inadvertently. I find using a thicker/creamy raw honey with a Vaseline texture work best. Liquid honey products tend to drip.
The full study can be found in the Indian Journal of Surgery. 2015 Dec;77(Suppl 2):261-3.
Honey Throat Remedy
Symptoms: Course, Dry Cough, Hoarse throat
• Apple Cider Vinegar
• Raw Honey