Honey: Traditional & Modern Medicine
For centuries, honey has been used in traditional medicine. In the recent past, honey has gained significant attention from the scientific community to explore its potential applications to treat various clinical conditions. Honey has a wide range of therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antineoplastic activity. Most respiratory infections caused by viruses and antibiotics are not needed. Since antiviral drugs are still expensive or not readily available, honey is the best choice to prevent and fight virus infections.
Not all Honey is Created Equal
To begin, we must ask, what is honey? According to the World Health Organization Codex Alimentarius for Honey, "Honey is the natural sweet substance, produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature." In simple words, honey is a sweet substance produced by bees from the nectar of plants.
A study showed that locally produced raw honey possesses excellent antibacterial activity comparable to commercial kinds of honey.
So, is there anything wrong with the honey we buy from the grocery store?
One study suggested more than three-fourths of the honey sold in grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce.
The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey." Without pollen, there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources or instead it is fake honey as in liquid sugar.
Here are some facts you should know about honey before you go shopping:
1– Fake honey— artificial or fake honey is imitation or artificial honey made from sugar or corn and rice syrups with additives essences and food coloring. Therefore it is a false claim of ingredients and not natural honey at all.
2- Adulterated honey— Also referred to as impure honey is 'honey' that has been added glucose, dextrose, molasses, sugar syrup, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, starch, or any other similar product other than floral nectar.
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found loads of adulterated honey cut with cheap syrup imported as 'pure honey.' They were found to contain foreign sugars, mostly corn syrup, rice syrup, and cane sugar syrup. Unfortunately, it is a legal and common practice by beekeepers in some countries to feed their bees with sugar to increase their production. As a result, you can find adulterated honey even inside the honeycomb.
When honey is really cheap, you're probably getting what you're paying for.
3- Pure honey — pasteurized but contains no added ingredients. Pure honey is heated at high temperatures and filtered. Pasteurization does kill bacteria, but bacteria can't naturally survive in honey, so that's not why it is pasteurized. Rather, it is intended to reduce moisture/chances of fermentation and prevent crystallization/granulation. Most honey consumers prefer clear, clean-looking liquid honey. Honey could not be filtered without heating and removing some pollens. Heating and filtering honey will destroy the nutritional and medicinal properties of honey.
The antimicrobial activity in most honey is due to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide H2O2. The peroxide activity in honey can be destroyed easily by heat. On the other hand, pollen which is one of the richest sources of vitamins in nature can be destroyed and eliminated by heating and filtering honey.
Some experts believe filtered honey should be labeled as a "sweetener" made from honey. Because it doesn't retain all of its original vitamins, minerals, and enzymes and doesn't have the benefits of unrefined raw honey.
4- Cream honey — Creamed Honey, which many people confuse with Raw honey, has been pasteurized and "seeded" with the desired crystal size to create tiny, fine crystals that are uniform in size, resulting in a honey that is nice and creamy. Here the crystallization process has been partially controlled in order to create a cosmetically attractive end product. It's thick, spreads easily, and doesn't drip... and because those crystals are nice and small, it feels smooth on the tongue.
5- Raw honey — When it comes to choosing the healthiest and most natural honey, your best bet is to go raw.
Raw honey is honey in its initial form – straight from the beehive, just as nature meant it to be. We all know that the benefits of raw honey are many and varied. Raw honey retains all of its original vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It's great for allergies! It's tasty and delicious, unrefined, and closer to nature.
So why is it that most of the honey found at your local supermarket is NOT raw honey? Because raw honey will crystallize, and pasteurized honey, which has been heated, takes a lot longer to do so. Raw honey is best described as honey "as it exists in the beehive." Unfortunately, there is no simple test you can do at your home to know if the honey you are buying, even the raw one is only from blossom and floral nectar, except for laboratory tests which show if bees were fed any kind of syrup.
You should always buy straight from the honey producers, aka beekeepers. Additionally, you should ask for lab results to see if their honey is only from blossom and doesn't have antibiotics or other chemical residues.
All honey is called the same, but not all of it is processed in the same way. The product that you should be buying is called Raw Honey. Full of nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, it is nature's sweetest candy and its best medicine.
Please note: It is recommended that infants under a year old do not consume honey.