Health Benefits of Honey

By Phillip Carter, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Houston County


Honey has numerous health benefits and it would take a long time to list them all. However, there are a few benefits we should consider to improve the quality and the duration of our lives.

Raw honey is about as natural as you can get. Many beekeepers only filter larger particles. However, some companies pasteurize their honey to prevent granulation while it is in a store. There has been much debate as to whether pasteurizing honey reduces some of its beneficial health properties. Virtually, every county in Alabama has beekeepers so most individuals should be able to locate a local beekeeper and purchase their honey.

Many people are unaware of the numerous minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that are found in honey. In essence, it's like taking a multivitamin. All you need is a teaspoon before bed and a teaspoon in the morning. The minerals found in honey include magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulphur, iron, copper, iodine, zinc, and phosphate. The vitamins include A (carotenes), B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B5 (panothenic acid), C (ascorbic acid), H (biotin), and P1 (rutin). Without having to go into a chemistry lesson, antioxidants are substances that help the body reduce the effects of cellular damage and chronic diseases. The concentration of antioxidants varies with the floral sources of honey. For example, darker honey most often has more antioxidants than lighter honey.

Honey also has some amazing antiseptic and skin healing properties. It contains antimicrobial agents that prevent infections by killing bacteria in and around wounds. Many types of bacteria cannot survive in honey so wounds heal, swelling eases, and tissue can grow back. Medical journals cite more than 600 cases in which honey was used to treat wounds. It appears that a lot more research is being done on using honey for burn victims. Honey is being used in Iraq to treat burn wounds in children. Honey also has a wonderful ability to attract water, which makes it great for re-hydrating dry skin. Most individuals know how bad a sun burn hurts. Honey can ease that pain and speed the healing process.

Bee pollen is another important substance found in honey. Bee pollen in itself is high in protein and contains all the vitamins and minerals previously mentioned. But more importantly it may provide some relief for those who suffer with seasonal allergies. Pollen can be purchased by itself to take separately; however, one can still benefit from taking honey since it already contains trace amounts of pollen. This trace amount of pollen every day may help reduce the symptoms of pollen-related allergies by inoculating yourself. In addition, it is very important that the pollen and honey be purchased locally since that is where the allergens are located. Because every individual is different, one can only try it to determine its effectiveness.

There are numerous books and Web-based resources that have additional information. Try some local honey and start feeling better today.

Blackiston, H. (2002). Beekeeping for dummies. New York: Hungry Minds, Inc.

Bonney, R. (1993). Beekeeping: A practical guide. Massachusetts: Storey Publishing.

Needham, A. W. (2008). Health benefits of honey. Retrieved January 16, 2009.

Healthful Honey. (2005). Honey-the wonderful. Health Benefits of Honey. Retrieved January 16, 2009.

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