By Funke Oshifuye
The wound-healing properties of honey may, perhaps, be its most promising medicinal quality. Honey has been used topically as an antiseptic therapeutic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns and wounds for centuries. Studies have shown that when honey is applied topically to patients following caesarean section, hysterectomy and first degree burns, they healed more cleanly with no infections and had a reduced hospital stay.
Due to the fact that honey is composed mainly of glucose and fructose (two sugars that strongly attract water) honey absorbs water in the wound, drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited. It is important to note that these micro organisms thrive in a moist environment.
In addition, raw honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that, when combined with water, produces hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic.
Apart from the specific enzymes found in honey, which may help in the healing process, honey also contains antioxidants and flavonoids that may function as antibacterial agents. In effect, honey inhibits common bacteria found readily in our environment that can cause infections, especially in open wounds.
The phytonutrients found in honey have been shown to possess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties. Researchers have discovered that these phytonutrients may prevent colon cancer by shutting down activity of unfavourable enzymes.
For athletes, honey is a good ergogenic aid. An ergogenic aid is a food or ingredient that helps athletes’ performance. Studies have shown that athletes who take honey before workout will maintain optimal blood sugar levels up to two hours following the workout. It also helps with muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscles) in such athletes.
Honey has been shown to be a more effective cough suppressant for children ages 2-18 than over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. So, if cough has been keeping your child awake, why don’t you try a spoonful of honey before bedtime?
Note that the health benefits of honey depend on the quality of the honey while the quality of honey is a function of the plants and environment from which pollen, saps, nectars and resins were gathered. Other substances found in the environment including traces of heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics have been shown to appear in honey. So, make sure your honey is well-sourced!
In addition, the processing of honey often removes many of the phytonutrients found in raw honey as it exists in the hive. When raw honey is extensively processed and heated, the benefits of these phytonutrients are largely eliminated. Darker honeys, specifically honey from buckwheat flowers contain a greater amount of antioxidants than other honeys, and raw, unprocessed honey contains the widest variety of health-supportive substances.
Do not feed infants under one year of age honey or honey-containing products; honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores and toxins that can cause infant botulism, a life-threatening paralytic disease.