With the cold days hitting us everyone heads for the natural remedies for colds, coughs and sore throats. One common condiment is honey. But not just any honey, RAW honey. Since honey was discovered we've all known its benefits for soothing an itchy throat but only recently have people taken a particular interest in raw, unadulterated honey. What's the difference? You may ask. Well, it's actually honey for starters.
Raw honey is made from the nectars of flowers. Worker bees gather the nectar and place it in their honey sac where it mixes with acid secretions and deposited in the honeycombs cells. Bees then fan the deposit with their wings to reduce the moisture content from 40-80% to 18-20% before the cell is sealed with beeswax and the honey is complete. The Bee Keepers then remove the honeycomb frames and scrape the sealed beeswax to release the honey. It is then placed into a honey extractor which spins them so that the honey flies out into the big canister. It is then passed through a screen to remove any remaining beeswax before it is stored into jars. Nowadays most honey found in the supermarkets have been heat treated for longer shelf life, and filtered, leaving no traces of bee pollen and lack beneficial vitamins and enzymes which make honey, well, honey. Other natural constituents are also removed in the process.
Raw honey contains up to 80 different substances important to human nutrition. Besides glucose and fructose, honey contains: All of the B-complex, A, C, D, E, and K, minerals and trace elements: magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper, and manganese. The live enzyme content of honey is one of the highest of all foods. It contains over 5000 enzymes including amylase, a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates. The benefit of ingesting naturally occurring enzymes such as amylase is that it reduces the burden on the body to produce these enzymes itself to digest the food.
The two key beneficial components are bee pollen and propolis, however, there are other substances in honey not yet identified, which may also be responsible for its positive effects.
Bee pollen is a super food containing all the nutrients required by the human body. It contains 22 amino acids and 27 minerals and an array of vitamins, essential fatty acids and bioflavonoids. It's great for a healthy heart, weight control, beauty, allergies, anti-aging and much more.
Propolis contains antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties demonstrating its effectiveness in cancer treatments, allergies, diabetes, high cholesterol, ulcers and many other illnesses and infections. It provides natural defences against cell damage by neutralizing unstable oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Its antioxidant level is equivalent to that of spinach, or even strawberries, and unique to honey is Pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
Raw honey does not ferment in the stomach so it can aid in stomach upsets and diarrhoea. It is also alkaline forming unlike processed honey and processed foods, which are acid forming. For this reason it aids in balancing our body ph levels preventing an environment in the body which is a breeding ground for bacteria and other illnesses. It also heals wounds, burns, cataracts, skin ulcers, sores and scrapes and can provide a protective barrier for wounds.
With raw honey having all these health benefits and tasting so good you almost want to have it with every meal and snack. However, regardless of it being one of the healthiest sweeteners out there, it is still high in natural sugars and should be consumed in moderation.
Types of honey
There are more than 300 types of nectar sources collected by bees worldwide. Thus, they are able to make more than 300 different varieties of honey. Each variety has its own texture, taste, colour and flavour depending upon the region, floral source and even treatment. To learn about the specific health benefits for some of the common types of raw honey, click on the link below:
Recipes for Health
Brightening facemask for scars and dark spots:
- 2 tsp raw honey
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Mix together and apply to face for 20-30 minutes and then wash off with warm water.
- Raw Honey
- Onion (chopped)
In a jar, add chopped onions until it covers the bottom of the jar. Then top with 1 tbsp honey or enough to barely cover the onions but not completely. Make more layers of onion and honey until it is one and a half inches away from the top of the jar. Let it sit for 24 hours. An amber fluid develops and the onions float to the top. Strain the onions out. Store the syrup in the fridge. Take a tsp of it when needed.