It turns out a spoonful of honey does more than just make the medicine go down, it actually is medicine!
Humans have been using this delicious treat from millennia, both for food and medicine. In fact, the first written reference to honey is from Sumerian tablet writing from 2100 BC. It mentions using honey as a drug and ointment.
In recent years, modern scientists has been able to test and prove many of the claims made about honey all these years. They’ve proven that honey has a multitude of health benefits, including promoting immune system, digestive and cardiovascular health, along with treating such illnesses as sore throat, infected wounds and even cancer!
The secret behind these healing powers is the phytochemicals present in honey. These are tiny compounds in plants that help protect them from oxidation, infection and predators. When we eat plants (or honey made from plant pollen), those protective benefits are passed on to us! Read on to learn about the evidence-based health benefits of this powerful superfood!
Immune System Health
Honey has broad spectrum antimicrobial properties. Researchers have tested honey against several types of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and found that it was effective at destroying every microbe tested.
The phytochemicals present in honey also help bolster your immune system. These compounds have antioxidant properties, which help defend your body against the damaging effects of oxidation. Daily intake of honey helps to strengthen your body’s natural defences, and protect you from threats.
Daily honey intake promotes gastrointestinal (GI) health in several ways. First, the phytochemicals aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients. These compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, and an un-inflamed GI system is a happy GI system.
Honey also contains lots of prebiotics, which are like food for your gut bacteria. These substances are not absorbed during digestion, but are instead passed on to your colon, where your “good” bacteria feast upon them. A healthy gut has been linked to digestive, immunological and neurological health. The prebiotics in honey have been shown to hasten the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, two important gut bacteria.
Regular honey consumption has been linked to decrease of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms. It coats the esophagus and stomach lining, which prevents upward flow of gastric juice. In one study, researchers administered honey to patients with an active IBS (inflammatory bowel disease) flare up. Honey successfully resolved their diarrhea, bloating and GI discomfort.
The phytonutrients present in honey have been shown to improve the function of the heart and blood vessels. High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body is linked to increased risk for heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Daily intake of honey reduces levels of LDL cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol.
At the same time, honey improves blood pressure control for patients struggling with hypertension (high blood pressure). It does this by dilating blood vessels, which decreases the pressure of the system.
Honey has been proven effective for treating sore throat, due to its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Sore throat and cough are generally caused by inflammation of the airway, which is usually secondary to an infectious microbe. Common culprits include viruses, bacteria and fungi that infect your airway, prompting an inflammatory response by your immune system. It is this inflammation that causes swelling, redness and pain in your throat.
Fortunately, the compounds present in natural honey have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial effects. This means that the honey helps you in two ways: 1st, it helps your immune system attack the invading microbe and destroy it. 2nd, it stimulates the release of anti-inflammatory hormones that help clear away inflammation and relieve your symptoms.
Honey has even been shown to be more effective than standard cough medicine. So next time your throat is scratchy, make yourself a nice cup of tea with a big spoonful of honey, and enjoy!
Honey has truly incredible wound healing abilities. It has been used for hundreds of years to help heal wounds, insect bites, burns, skin disorders, sores and boils. The effects are so remarkable, that modern medicine has adopted honey as a standard treatment for slow healing wounds. A product called “medihoney” (medical-grade honey) is used as an ointment to cover wounds. The honey creates a thick, antimicrobial, moisture-balancing layer over the wound that protects it, while simultaneously stimulating skin cells to repair the damaged tissue.
The evidence-supported benefits of using honey in wound treatment include rapid healing, wound cleaning, infection clearance, skin regeneration, decreased inflammation and increased comfort. You can even rub a bit of honey on your cuts and scrapes at home to help them heal fast!
Honey exhibits anti-tumor effects against several types of cancer, including breast, liver and colorectal. The phytochemicals in honey selectively target cancer cells, leaving healthy tissue unscathed. Honey fights cancer in several ways. It prevents cell replication, which is how tumors grow. It also induces apoptosis or “programmed cell death” in cancer cells. These results are limited to petri-dishes, but are certainly promising!
Cancer generally develops as a result of oxidative stress and inflammation. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, daily intake of honey may reduce your risk of developing cancer in the first place!
Why Choose Greek Honey?
Honey is a powerful food-medicine that humans have been using for literally thousands of years. I find it incredible that early humans were able to discover the secret healing powers of this sticky, golden sap. From killing cancer cells, to boosting immune function, to preventing heart attacks, the powers of this superfood are seemingly endless.
Honey makes a great addition to a bowl of Greek yogurt, a piece of peanut butter toast, or a hot cup of tea. It’s probably the easiest superfood to incorporate into your diet — it tastes a hell of a lot better than kale.
When you’re picking out honey, be sure to choose a Greek honey. The vibrant plant life and biodiversity of Greece help bees produce aromatic honey that is packed with powerful phytonutrients. So add a spoonful of honey to your daily routine. Your body will thank you, and so will your taste buds!
Where to Find Greek Honey?
New York City-based Chef Maria Loi swears by Greek honey — so much so that she created her own line of it — Loi Meli — which she imports into the United States. Currently two types of Loi’s honey are available at Whole Foods Markets throughout the east coast, a regular thyme honey and a more exclusive black honey.
Chef Loi often uses honey in her own recipes, even replacing sugar with various increments of honey.
Perhaps her most famous honey-inspired recipe is her Kyklos Baklava, which she’s even prepared on national television on the Kelly and Ryan show.
The Pappas Post Market also offers some of the best Greek honey available, including Navarino Icons Greek honey, which is harvested from colonies of bees that roam freely to collect nectar from the flowers blooming in abundance in the southern Greek region of Messenia. This honey is unheated and unfiltered, which preserves its nutritional benefits while highlighting its taste and aroma.
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