The Many Health Benefits of Honey
Honeybees produce honey from flower nectar. Pure honey contains no additives including sweeteners or water. The National Honey Board in the United States regulates this fact. Bees other than honeybees do store honey, but the only true honeybee is the genus Apis. This sweet syrup has medicinal qualities along with its delicious flavor. We will concentrate on these health benefits of honey and the studies into them.
Nutrients in Honey
Honey contains a great deal of nutrients that provide the consumer with many benefits. Some of these nutrients are:
- Amino acids
- Various sugars such as sucrose, glucose, fructose and more
- Bioflavonoids (these vary according to the kind of honey)
A Bit of History
The health benefits of honey are not a new discovery. The ancient civilizations of this world knew of how honey could help heal. Many clinical trials report proof of this fact. This liquid can help wounds, ulcers, burns and more heal faster. Diabetics can even enjoy the health benefits of bee mhoney.
Studies Performed on Honey
Diabetics Consuming Honey
A randomized clinical trial studied the effects of consuming honey by diabetics and it lasted for 8 weeks. A research team from Tehran, Iran was in charge of the study. They looked into the effects that natural honey would have on the biochemical indices of the blood, along with the body of the diabetics involved in the study.
The study included 48 subjects suffering from type 2 diabetes divided at random into 2 separate groups. One group did not receive honey and was the control group. The other group took natural honey orally over an 8-week period.
Patients had blood drawn and tested for fasting levels of blood sugar. The two groups had no significant differences in this area. The honey group showed a decrease in body weight, LDL, triglycerides and overall cholesterol, while the HDL increased in this group. This group also realized an increase in levels of Hemoglobin A (1C); because of this increase, diabetics should consume honey cautiously.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Another study by a research team from Kuantan, Pahang compared povidine iodine and honey for dressing applications on the diabetic foot ulcers classified as Wagner type II. This study compared the group dressed with honey to the one dressed with povidine iodine as well as saline. All patients underwent surgical debridement and given antibiotics.
The iodine group healed in an average time of 15.4 days, while the honey group healed in an average time of 14.4 days. The results were not conclusive enough to recommend honey over povidine iodine. However, the results do show that honey is a valid alternative dressing for this type of diabetic foot ulcers.
Honey as a Natural Sweetener and Preservative for Salad Dressings
A study performed at the University of Illinois in 2008 proved that honey could be a natural alternative to refined sweeteners and chemical additives for commercially made salad dressings. This study replaced EDTA, the substance that prevents the oxidation of oils contained in salad dressing from happening, along with the high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener in commercial salad dressing. The researchers used blueberry and clover honeys in this study after examining 19 honeys for their phenolic profiles, antioxidant activity and sweetening abilities.
They did come across the problem of the honey breaking down the emulsion, because it attacked the dressing's starch that thickened it. However, the solution to this problem was a new formulation containing xanthan gum. The results of the study in the end were that salad dressing with honey is just as protected against oxidation and spoilage as those containing EDTA.
Cancer Patient Honey Trial
The doctors working at Christie Hospital located in Manchester used manuka honey on patients with throat and mouth cancer. Their hope is to lessen the risk of the patients contracting MRSA along with decreasing the inflammation. Dr. Nick Slevin, the leader of the trial, states that manuka honey contains excellent anti-infection and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is also thought to reduce the risk of infection by MRSA.
Getting Honey Recognized for its Medicinal Properties
Peter Molan, PhD from New Zealand talks about how honey is being more recognized today for it medicinal properties by patients and medical doctors. Positive clinical results helped show people the facts on its therapeutic benefits. It will take even more research on the health benefits for honey to get more recognition in this area. This will help medical professional and patients learn about what healing properties honey can offer to therapeutic efforts.
Numerous medical journals and other literature contain reports that state the effectiveness of honey for treating skin ulcers, burns, and wounds. Honey quickly reduces pain, swelling and the inflammation along with the odor associated with these problems.
Less skin grafting is needed since the healing happens fast enough to leave fewer scars. Dead tissue also sheds without the need for surgery and the infection is cleared up in less time. One of the other health benefits of raw honey is the fact that it allows for moist healing to take place. This helps a wound or other skin problem heal from the inside out instead of the outside in, which decreases the chance of infections from happening. This moist environment without honey could allow bacteria to grow, but the honey prevents this growth. Honey is different from other antiseptics, as it will not damage tissues in fact it increases the rate at which new tissue grows for healing the wound.
Many professional are not yet aware that the antimicrobial potency of honey varies. This is mainly because the quantity of hydrogen peroxide differs between honeys along with other antimicrobial elements depending on which plants are the sources for them.
Manuka honey has an extremely high amount of antibacterial activity derived from the Leptospermum scoparium plant. All of the species of bacteria typically infecting wounds are sensitive to honey's antibacterial qualities including Staphylococcus aureus. The wound cannot heal properly until the bacterial infection has been eradicated from it.
Researchers at the Central Public Health Laboratory conducted tests on many types of bacteria resistant to antibiotic including MRSA. The results were that they had no resistance when treated with honey. These results are important because there are many superbugs that break out in hospitals today that are resistant to traditional antibiotics. Honeys that contain mid-levels of antibacterial activity were the ones used in this study. They have up to 50 times the activity actually needed for suppressing the tested bacteria growth. Honeys with lesser activity could prove effective, but honey is often make weaker by the secretion of the wounds and this could negatively affect the strength of the antibacterial activity.
Another one of the benefits of honey is the hydrogen peroxide it gives off. This benefit goes beyond just the antibacterial activity it actually encourages cell growth for tissue replacement. In this case, hydrogen peroxide is of such low level that it does not cause inflammation.
There is an insulin effect on top of this provided which also stimulates healing. This can stimulate tissue regeneration along with new blood vessels developing. Enzymes that digest protein are also activated that helps the process for healing.
Honey with its antioxidants prevents free radicals that can cause inflammation. These are merited with the anti-inflammatory effect that honey provides. The sugars, acidity and other nutrients in honey also speed up the healing process. The acidity of this substance keeps the ammonia generated from bacteria from harming the tissues of the body. It also helps the blood release oxygen and this is necessary for new tissue to grow. Honey provides additional nutrients that the cells help not only the healing to take place, but also the sugars help the white blood cells attack the bacteria to kill them. These sugars also reduce odors.
Clinical trials are ongoing to discover all the health benefits of raw unfiltered honey. More research is necessary for a full understanding and acceptance by the medical community. The more positive information on the healing powers of honey that is collected the medical doctors will turn to it more as a valid treatment.