Do You Know Honey?
When you think of honey, you probably think of just a sweetener that you would add to your daily cup of tea, baked goods, or breakfast staples, but there is so much more that honey has to offer us. Coined as being considered pure “liquid gold,” raw honey truly is a super food, and a jack of all trades, that should be found within every household’s kitchen pantry.
It’s been recorded since ancient Egyptian times to be used for cleaning, treating, and healing wounds, preventing and fighting off illnesses, treating skin conditions and contributing to a healthy beauty regimen, as well as helping reduce inflammation and fatigue. Many also don’t know, but honey can contribute to supporting a healthy digestive system in the same way as taking probiotics.
Not all honey is created equal however, and we will dive further into the importance of buying as local, and as raw as possible, in the material below.
Benefits of Raw Honey and its Uses
As already mentioned, there are countless health benefits of using raw honey to touch on, but for time’s sake, today I’m just going to go over some of my favorite top benefits.
- Antibacterial & Antifungal
Whether it be internal or external, raw honey is highly effective with its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, against treating cuts, scrapes, burns, fungus, infections and other illnesses. Raw honey has natural occurring hydrogen peroxide, which thoroughly cleanses and disinfects wounds, and is especially useful for burns off all kinds. Raw honey also has cell regenerative qualities, which quickens the healing process and reduces the possibility of scaring.
Combined with other ingredients, raw honey makes a potent antibiotic to treat infections, and bacterial diseases.
My go to recipe for fighting any type of infection or illness (has been used for ear, bronchial, and sinus infections, as well as strep throat, cold, and flu) is:
For every quart size mix;
~ Equal parts of raw honey (must be raw) and raw apple cider vinegar (again, must be raw), (approximately ½ a cup each).
~ The juice of two whole lemons.
~ 4-6 drops of therapeutic grade Thieves essential oil blend (depends on the severity of the illness).
~ 4 drops of therapeutic grade lemon essential oil.
~ Ground cayenne pepper (only if dealing with cough and congestion).
Combine everything in a quart sized glass container, then fill with filtered water.
Drink a quart daily until symptoms subside. I usually only have to consume this antibiotic for two-four days before I’m back to feeling like my usual self, which is way less time than any antibiotic a doctor will proscribe. Not to mention it’s all natural and boosts your immune system, instead of a proscribed antibiotic that completely depletes your immune system by killing off all the good bacteria in your gut.
- May help reduce pollen allergies
The theory behind raw honey helping reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, is based on the idea that daily consumption (of a teaspoon-tablespoon) builds immunity towards the pollen within the air. Why eat local honey? Local honey is the most beneficial, because the bees are gathering pollen from the same plants that are causing your allergies to flare up. For example, a raw honey bought from the west coast, or another country, is coming from a completely different climate and environment from the one you reside in, thus also growing and pollinating different plants from what you are being exposed to.
Many believe that “local” means it has to be within a certain number of miles from your home a place of work, but rest assured, that is not the case. As long as your honey is coming from a source where the hives have been placed in an environment with the same plants and foliage as your current location, then it will offer the same benefits.
- Boosts energy levels
Honey is a good source of carbohydrates, and is considered one of the best natural ways to boost energy levels. One of the many reasons why it is faved among fitness gurus, is because it is easily absorbed into the blood stream, which makes it a perfect pre-workout energy booster to help increase stamina. It can also be used after workouts to fight off fatigue, and it will even help quicken the healing process of sore muscles from strength training. This is why many body builders have been known to add honey into their post-work out shakes.
- Eases sore throat
Honey has many, you can make at home remedies for a sore throat. One of my personal (and most effective) favorite remedies, is to combine equal parts of raw apple cider vinegar, with raw honey, then add a bit of ground cayenne pepper to the mix, and dilute with water to your liking. The raw honey paired with cayenne pepper help soothe the throat and reduce coughing, while all three ingredients help boost the immune system. This is just a simpler recipe than the one above, and is mainly focused on reducing the urge to cough.
- Beautifying for the skin
Honey is an excellent addition to any beauty routine! Its antibacterial and healing qualities makes it one of the best ways to treat acne, by removing dirt from the pores, regulating your body’s natural PH levels, and can even help reduce appearance of scars on the face and body. For acne and scars on the face:
1. First you want to remove all makeup from your face, leaving a clear foundation.
2. Next, use warm water to wet your face.
3. Apply honey in a circular motion, being careful not to get it into your eyes (for it will burn greatly if you do).
4. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
5. Then apply a light layer of an oil moisturizer (my favorite is jojoba oil, because it does not clog the pores, and is quickly absorbed by the skin).
Honey is naturally moisturizing, so you are welcome to skip this step if you like.
Because of the high number of antioxidants, and its ability to retain water, honey acts as a great moisturizer for the skin, and will give you a beautiful, youthful glow that cannot be attained by any chemically fortified product on the market today.
Why Commercial Honey is Not the Same as Raw
Most commercial honey is filtered and pasteurized (including those labeled “raw”), which drastically decreases the many health benefits of honey.
Microfiltration (mostly used with honey harvested within the US) is a process that involves removing all fine particles, air bubbles, pollen grains, and possible wax (from the honeycomb), in order to make the honey more appealing to the everyday consumer. The pollen grains though, is a contributing factor that helps reduce local pollen allergies for an individual.
Ultrafiltration however, is the process used for most imported honey, which the FDA claims substantially transforms the honey, and is mainly done to make adulterated fillers within honey harder to trace. Therefore, ultrafiltration has no health benefits whatsoever.
Pasteurization is a process where the honey is heated to temperatures of 145 F (63 C) – 150 F (65.5 C) for 30 minutes, in theory, to kill off possible bacteria that could be in the honey, as well as prevent crystallization. But honey, is widely known for its antibacterial qualities, as well as its ability to stay preserved for 1,000’s of years (for archaeologists have found honey within Egyptian tombs, to be fully preserved and as edible as any honey a farmer may harvest today). So, is pasteurization really necessary, or is it more of a marketing ploy to boost commercial sales?
Know Your Source
Another reason why you should consider buying local instead of from a commercial grocery stores, is because it is extremely hard to tell which honey sitting on the shelf may, or may not have been adulterated. China has been the main culprit for adulterating honey with fillers such as corn syrup or rice syrup, as well as with chemicals such as chloramphenicol, which is a toxic antibiotic the US has banned, because of extensive studies done finding links of it causing cancer, and it is considered dangerous for many people’s health. The US currently has banned all honey being imported from China, but that has not stopped China from finding ways to get their fraudulent honey within our country.
After the ban, China began selling their honey to other countries acting as the middleman, and making it difficult to trace the honey back to China. 2016 marked the largest fraud food investigation of all US history, where Border Protections and Homeland Security seized 60 tons of fraudulent honey from a Chicago warehouse.
Sadly, only 30% of all honey sold within the US is True Source Certified (an organization started by US honey producers which provides traceable sources from the hives producing the honey), this one fact alone, means the store-bought honey sitting in your pantry right now, has more than likely been adulterated.
How to Find Local Honey
Local farmer’s markets are a great place to find raw honey harvested within your homes proximity. This is my favorite way to look for honey, because it gives me the opportunity of speaking to the farmer one-on-one about his knowledge, practices, and process of harvesting from the hive, then how the honey is bottled after harvest. Buying directly from the farmer, also cuts out the middle man (often times saving you money), and is a major contribute to supporting small local businesses.
You should be able to find a list of farmer’s markets within your area, by doing a simple google search. Many counties will have multiple markets on different days, and times of the week, giving you the ability to find which market would be best for you and your schedule.
If, however, your schedule is jam packed, or you just can’t wait for the next market to pop up before getting your hands on this liquid gold, then your next best bet would be, to try a local health food store or herbal/vitamin shop. Most (especially small locally run) health food stores will carry local raw honey (this may also be a good source for location and times of farmer’s markets near you, if you are unable to find what you are looking for online). You can also save yourself a trip, by calling the health store ahead of time to see if they carry just what you are looking for.
Differences in Color and Flavor
Another good reason to visit your local farmers market for finding raw honey, is to try to locate the small-time farmers who do not batch mix their honey. Most farmers will harvest all of their hives at the same time, mixing all the honey together, resulting in one flavor and type of honey. There is nothing wrong with this process, but you will notice a special treat from honey harvested and bottled from a single hive.
When a farmer spreads his hives around to various areas of the farm, and does not batch mix, the honey takes on flavors of the environment in which the hive is placed. For example, a hive placed near blueberry fields will have delicious notes of blueberry within, while hives planted near pecan trees will have a nuttier pecan flavor (one of my favorites!). I’ve been blessed in finding a farmer at my local market who does not batch mix her honey, and provides an exceptional product, that I (along with many others) have been faithfully purchasing for the past six years.
Take the time to get to know your local farmers, and don’t be afraid to ask them what their methods and process consist of in producing the final product they are selling to you.
Raw honey has many great benefits indeed, but only if it is truly raw and unadulterated. Don’t settle for second best (or far from best), by buying your honey at a commercially chained grocery store (where the risk of fraudulent honey is exponentially grand). By supporting local farmers, you are not only getting the best quality and sourcing possible, but you are also helping to put food on the table for those families who work very hard to provide us with quality assurance.