How wonderfully therapeutic it is to watch a bee moving from flower to flower collecting nectar! Back at the hive, the bees turn the nectar into that wonderful, golden substitute for refined sugar. The bees make enough to keep their own hive humming, and then make a little extra for us. In its whole life, each bee collects enough nectar to make only 1/12th teaspoon of honey!
Honey consists of approximately 17% water and 82.5% sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose and trisaccharides). This leaves about .5% for acid, protein (including enzymes and pollen), alcohols, wax, and minerals. Honey compositions vary tremendously from hive to hive, area to area, and season to season, so these are just averages. Dark honey contains more minerals such as sulfur, sodium and potassium.
HONEY AND NATURAL HEALTH
Honey is a natural, healthy way to replace refined sugar as an occasional treat. WARNING! Never give raw honey to infants under the age of 1. Infants can contract infant botulism from raw honey. People over the age of 1 are able to process raw honey without risk.
Here are a few of the health benefits of honey and medicinal uses of raw, unfiltered, organic honey:
- Cough medicine—Add honey and lemon to warm water or tea to soothe a raw throat. Give 2 teaspoons of honey to a child with a cough to help him or her sleep. It has been shown to be as effective as over-the-counter cough suppressants.
- Mild antibiotic—Apply a dab of honey to a cloth and press it onto a cut as an instant antibiotic. All raw honey has some antibiotic and antibacterial properties.
- Burn treatment—Again, dab a little on the burn. It will soothe the throbbing and heal the redness quickly. It is even used in burn wards of hospitals.
- Hay fever treatment—Be sure to buy local, raw, unfiltered honey. Better yet, buy honey that comes from the particular flowers you are allergic to. The small amounts of live pollen in the honey will help you to build immunity to the allergen. Take a teaspoonful each day.
- Acne treatment—Changes in diet and drinking more water are the best long term acne treatments. To instantly calm inflamed skin, apply a layer of honey diluted with just a little water. Leave it on the skin for about 20 minutes. This daily soothing mask should clear up the pimples in a few days.
Honey, in small quantities, also:
- Helps the body to retain calcium
- Is easy for the body to process
- Is easier on the kidneys
- Is a gentle laxative
- Calms the body.
Unfortunately, honey is still a “buyer beware” product. Some producers sneak corn syrup into honey to reduce the cost. Additionally, commercially prepared honey has been heated to a high temperature, killing the enzymes and removing many health benefits. Heated honey has NO antibiotic properties and will NOT help reduce allergy symptoms. Also, the heat destroys much of the taste and aromas of this delicate substance. Buy raw, unfiltered organic honey. It tastes better and is healthier. Honey can be purchased as liquid honey, as comb honey, or as creamed (granulated) honey. Try them all! The wax in comb honey is edible or it can be chewed and then discarded. Some people enjoy comb honey spread on toast. Creamed honey is used as a spread.
VARIETIES OF HONEY
The varieties of honeys are vast and astounding. Some honey is marketed specifically for its medicinal value. You will find hundreds of articles about honey from the tea tree (leptospermum) found in New Zealand and Australia. This honey is marketed under a variety of names and there is a large amount of data showing the tremendous antibacterial and antibiotic properties of it. It is widely used in hospital settings, particularly outside of the U.S.
As you shop for honey, read the labels carefully, noting the difference between infused honey and the source of the honey. Blueberry honey (from the flowers of blueberry plants) tastes drastically different from blueberry-infused honey (honey infused with blueberry juice). A light-colored honey such as sainfoin or fireweed generally imparts a more delicate, melt-in-your mouth flavor. Dark-colored honey is generally more robust. Sunflower honey is a darker yellow-brown honey with a flavor that starts to lean toward molasses. Buckwheat honey is almost black and is a very bitter honey. Citrus honeys often taste very good with citrus fruits. A tiny drizzle of Hawaiian honey on grapefruit truly melts in your mouth! As you travel, try avocado honey, tupelo honey, and other local honeys. Add different kinds of honey to your tea and taste that little bit of heaven that the bees share with us!
STORING AND USING HONEY
Honey is stored at room temperature and will retain all of its wonderful qualities as it ages. Some honey will crystallize after a varying amount of time. The honey is still good, and can be gently heated to regain its liquid form. To re-liquefy honey, boil a pan of water. Remove the pan from heat and place the jar of honey in the water with a loose lid.
As you try new combinations and recipes, you will truly wonder why anyone would ever use bland, white, refined sugar. You, too, will say “Please pass the honey, Honey!”