Many years ago (more than I care to remember), when I first started working in the medical field, I was assisting in a dressing change of a very large decubitus ulcer (bed sore). Without going into specifics, this sore was large enough for me to fit my whole fist into without touching the sides. It was huge!
During the dressing change we removed yards and yards of gauze “packing” and replaced it with new gauze. Before packing the new gauze into the wound, the nurse that I was assisting had me place the strips into a dish of a sticky, viscous solution. I laughingly remarked to her that this stuff looked like honey. She peered at me over the top of her surgical mask and said, “That’s exactly what it is. Pure, raw honey”. Now this was in a small village in the countryside of England. As a young, know-it-all, I thought to myself, these poor folks haven’t yet learned of the medical advances used in modern countries. Boy did I get an education! In the space of a few short months I watched this sore heal from the inside out, which is exactly what was needed. The flesh grew and filled in with strong, healthy tissue.
Without realizing at the time, I think this was the start of my search for the health benefits found in nature. If raw honey could fix a wound of this size, what else was out there?
Raw Honey vs Regular Honey
The honey that you find on your regular grocery store shelf is usually regular honey or commercial honey. This is honey that has been filtered and pasteurized to the point that most of the health benefits have been removed. Sometimes other fillers have been added like corn syrup or other sugars and sweeteners. During the processing method the heat and ultra filtration remove the pollen as well and the pollen is important. Pollen contains over 250 substances including vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, micro nutrients and antioxidants linked to health benefits. 75% of commercial honey contains no pollen. None.
Raw Honey has not been pasteurized or processed. It is usually filtered just enough to clear out any wax from the honeycomb and any bits of dead bees. That’s it. Just as nature and the bees intended. It not only contains pollen, with all of it’s health benefits, it contains 30 types of bio active plant compounds called polyphenols which act as antioxidants. The color can range from almost clear and colorless to dark amber or black. All shades of yellow or amber that change depending on the botanical origin, age and storage. The clarity depends on the filtration and the amount of suspended particles.
The health benefits of raw honey date back over 8000 years. Records show that it was used by the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans in the treatment of wounds and digestive ailments. Cave painting from 7000BC in Spain show the collection of honey by a person climbing a tree and subduing the bees with smoke so the hive could be robbed. Around 4000BC the Egyptians made hives from hardened mud, with the Greeks modifying this design around 1450BC by baking the mud into terra cotta. Other designs have evolved, like hanging a log in a tree (still used today), woven cylinders known as skeps, and rectangular boxes made from wood. The common denominator in all being the same. A long low cavity with a small hole at one end and a type of door at the other. In 1851, Rev. Langstroth from Philadelphia designed the Langstroth movable bee frame revolutionizing domestic beekeeping without destroying the bees.
Throughout time honey has been used in dedication and ritual, as a food source, used in medicine as well as in death. Egyptians used it as a sweetener as well as an ingredient in the embalming process. Honey being favored by the pharos. The Greeks used honey for food as well as medicine. There are Greek recipe books full of honeyed sweetmeats, cakes and cheeses described in a quote by Euripides in the 5th century BC as “being steeped most thoroughly in the rich honey of the golden bee”. Aristotle (384-322BC) referred to “pale honey” as being a good salve for sore eyes and wounds. The Romans, like the Greeks used it for food and medicine and spread the industry of beekeeping. Hannibal gave his armies a mixture of honey and vinegar (Oxymel) as they crossed the Alps on elephants. The Kings and Queens of England drank fermented honey wine known as Mead up until the Renaissance when sugar was introduced. By the 17th century the use of honey had been ousted by sugar.
Without getting too bogged down in the science, let me explain why raw honey is so important in medicine, especially in this day and age, when we have such a plethora of manufactured pharmaceuticals within our reach. As we all know, antibiotics have become less and less effective against “super bugs”. Think MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The key word here is resistant. There are others but this one is particularly nasty. According to an article in NHS news, researches have found “that honey has been shown to exhibit “broad-spectrum” antimicrobial activity, being able to act upon more than 80 species of pathogen. They point towards previous research that has demonstrated that honey can inhibit pathogens normally capable of causing wound infection, including strains that are resistant to conventional antibiotics. They also highlight the growing number of clinical reports that have shown that wound infections (including those infected with MRSA) can be cleared by the topical application of manuka honey.”
Now Manuka Honey and Tualang Honey are two of the best but even locally farmed honeys have very similar properties. Honey has antimicrobial activity due to the enzymatic production of H2O2 – hydrogen peroxide. In wound care this produces antibiotic properties because it hinders the growth of bacteria and the high viscosity provides a protective barrier. Honey is acidic, which helps release oxygen from the wound and promote healing.
As well as the antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflamatory properties, raw honey is high in antioxidants and may have some anti fungal, anti viral and anesthetic properties as well. However, raw honey can contain Clostridium Botulinum which is harmful to infants, so you never give raw honey to a child under the age of 1 year. Their little bodies have yet to learn how to fight this.
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Raw honey has been around for millennia. It was known as the “food of the Gods”. It has been used to nourish, to worship, to help and to heal. The many health benefits of raw honey include healing wounds, burns and skin grafts. It’s a polynutrient and prebiotic that aids digestive problems and fights the H.pylori bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. It is great for sore throats and coughs being just as effective as Dextromethorphan, the main ingredient of cough syrup. It improves cholesterol levels and has a glycemic index of 58 which can aid in blood sugar levels of diabetics. Raw honey has been used in conjunction with cardiac health, liver disease and some cancers. The pollen content in your local honey can help with hay fever and allergies.I have found a great source that supplies a wonderful selection of different honeys. Bloom Honey brings you pure, raw honey straight from the hive with all the benefits intact. Not only do they provide True Source Certified honey, these folks are also members of California State Beekeepers Association, the American Bee Federation, and the American Honey Producer’s Association. In addition, they will donate to Project Apis m, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining the health of the honeybee and researching colony collapse disorder. These are the kind of people that I like to support! As an affiliate of Bloom Honey, by clicking this link, I do receive a small percentage of any purchases you may make. Thank you!
The humble honey bee creates this liquid gold that is so beneficial to all of us in varying forms and unfortunately they are declining. We must, as a species, do what we can to help our little winged friends. Whether in the form of domestic hives or simply planting more flowers and using less pesticides. Learn about the bees, please, for without them there will be no us.
Do you have a particular brand of raw Honey that you prefer? Do you want to know more about local Bee Keepers and how we can help the bees? Please leave me a comment in the section below so we can work together to protect these industrious little buzzers that work so hard for us.
– Dolly –
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