Honey: New Medical Discoveries and Benefits
The medicinal qualities of honey have been known around the world for thousands of years and can be found among the curatives listed in ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese herbals.
Aristotle said that honey was good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds, while the ancient Hebrews believed it was a gift from their god to cure the ills of mankind.
But it was only in recent years that scientists have come to fully appreciate the vast array of the curative powers this sweet gift from nature possesses.
While its easy to take for grated the method by which we acquire honey, the process by which honey is produced is actually quite complex. Made from plant nectar mingled with bees digestive enzymes, honey is composed of equal proportions of glucose and fructose (inverted sugars), and contains aromatic volatile oils (which conveys its flavor), proteins, various enzymes, and a variety of vitamins.
And as any beekeeper can tell you, when it comes to honey, the darker the color, the higher the mineral content--and relates to how effective it is as a curative.
When heated, the chemical structure of the amino acids in honey are changed, which reduces its nutritional value. Honey that has been heated and liquefied is also typically filtered, removing the trace amounts of errant pollen commonly found in raw honey, which reduces the healing effects of honey. It is for this reason that raw honey is preferred over processed honey when seeking both nutritive and curative properties. In addition to table honey, a number of beneficial products are derived from honey including pollen, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax, and bee venom--all of which have a number of internal as well as topical usages.
And while relief from constipation, insomnia, and obesity are among the many internal applications known to honey users world-wide, its topical usages is what are currently impressing science most.
Known to Asian doctors for centuries, American physicians are only now discovering the benefits of choosing honey over conventional medicinals in treating severe burns. Recent studies show that while typical salves and creams leave burned skin rough, scarred, and discolored, honey produces supple and unblemished skin.
And one major advantage of using honey for treating burns is that when changing dressings, conventional salves must be scraped off and reapplied (which is extremely painful and anti-productive in that salves typically stick to the wound), while honey dressings peal off easily and virtually painless, with the majority of the honey having been absorbed into the burn and already speeding up the healing process.
One particular variety of honey showing extreme promise in burn treatment is that produced from the flower of the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), a plant native to New Zealand.
Recognized for its extraordinary anti-bacterial properties, Manuka honey has proven superior in helping to stop the growth of harmful bacteria even when wounds are badly infected. The Manuka honey's amazing healing properties come from a somewhat unique chemical reaction which produces hydrogen peroxide, a well-known antiseptic used in hospitals and households for the past century.
Additionally, because honey shields against bacteria and in essence acts as a self-functioning bandage, major wounds have to be bandaged for shorter periods of time and less severe wounds often need no bandage at all--thus speeding the total healing process. Manuka honey also appears to promote cellular growth--something many topical salves do not.
With each new healing property discovered, scientists realize how much theyve underestimated honeys natural, far-reaching capabilities. Undoubtedly, continued studies will uncover even more uses for this true gift from nature. Oh, yeah, and it tastes delicious on top of it all!
Images via Wikipedia.org
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