Honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. These ancient samples were tested and found to be edible even though they were thousands of years old! Honey is the only food product that can be stored at room temperature indefinitely without spoiling or significantly losing its nutrient content. Even if it crystallizes, it is nutritionally unchanged and edible. Most think of it as a natural sweetener with a unique taste but honey is so much more.
Medicinal Value of Honey
Honey is proven to have medicinal value. Medical grade honey is available for topically treating wounds. Patients with impaired healing ability have wounds treated with bandages that contain medical grade honey. The honey possesses natural antibiotic properties. It is safe for skin contact but creates a negative environment for bacteria. This germ controlling effect does not come at a price such as when other antiseptic or antibiotic agents are used. Systemic medications used to control pathogenic bacteria also kill the good bacteria in the gut. Many topical antiseptic agents damage healthy tissue.
Store-bought honey is well accepted anecdotally as a home remedy for various maladies. Honey is used as a remedy for everything from heartburn to minor cuts. However, its efficacy varies depending on many things. Medical grade honey is purified, refined and standardized. Store-bought honey varies greatly as a remedy based on a number of factors such as the bees that made it, the source flowers of the nectar, environmental conditions, processing and additives.
Bottles of honey usually declare it a natural product using various marketing words. However, since regular corn syrup is also a natural product, it is added to some honeys without it appearing as an ingredient on the label or the need for the manufacturer to indicate its presence. Manufacturers may sell adulterated honey that consumers perceive to be pure. The warning to not feed honey to children under one year old is due to their undeveloped digestive systems and the possible risk of a botulism bacteria infection. Adults with normally functioning digestive systems are not at risk.
Why Store-Bought Honey Only Sometimes Works as a Treatment
The issue is the batch to batch variability. Honey used by some who refuse to take prescriptions to treat heartburn have found relief eating small amounts of honey. Others do not. What seems to be the issue is the type of honey, when it was harvested and where. Honey is made by bees gathering nectar from various flowers. It can significantly vary in color and taste with subtle variances in viscosity.
Not enough testing has been done, but it seems that the mechanism of action providing relief varies, depending on the factors mentioned. Since honey can be indefinitely stored, one should purchase sufficient amounts when a variety is found that provides the relief being sought. This does require a bit of experimentation but may be well worth the effort. Since honey can be expensive, try small samples for efficacy. Even if it does not provide specific symptom relief, enjoy it for the taste.
Those seeking to obtain allergy relief from plant pollens should purchase local honey made from bees who feed on local wildflowers. The ideology of such honey providing allergy relief is subtle exposure to small amounts of pollen in the honey. For maximum benefit, consider beginning to eat this honey type a couple of months before allergy season begins. It is considered that the exposure to ingested pollen builds immunity in the same manner that allergy shots do. It is important to use honey harvested at the peak of the allergy season the year prior. Otherwise, no offending pollens would be present.
From mild clover honey to the strong molasses type of flavor of buckwheat honey, there are over 300 types harvested worldwide. The old adage tells us that in the wild there is a cure within 25 feet for all of our maladies. We just need to know where to look. Using locally harvested honey from a reputable beekeeper is the best place to start.