Six Health Benefits of Honey
Honey is one of nature’s wonders. Made by an insect, the natural sweetener has undergone an in-depth exploration by scientists, and many healing facts of honey have been unsealed. In this article, we will review some of these published, peer-reviewed studies highlighting the healing traits of honey.*
Brain Regenerative Effects
As people age, the brain ages it and can lose its sharpness. However, scientists have uncovered several, natural substances that can help support brain regeneration; honey is one of them.
Researchers in Bangladesh and Malaysia have found that polyphenols in honey have demonstrated to be useful in improving memory degradation and can act at the cellular level . The researchers also noted, “Raw honey possesses nootropic effects, such as memory-enhancing effects, as well as neuropharmacological activities, such as anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant activities” .
They stated honey possesses this ability because of its potent antioxidant effects, being able to “quench” reactive oxygen species, compounds that contain oxygen and are responsible for oxidation and aging . The researchers called for further investigation into honey’s actions regarding its brain regenerative effects and speculated if the effects are as powerful as they believe, honey could be an alternative treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.
Positive Effects on Diabetes
In a 2013, randomized, crossover study, scientists found that long-term use of honey could potentially have salubrious effects in those with type-1 diabetes because honey might be able to promote beta-cell growth, which is inhibited in those individuals .
Additionally, in a 2011 study, researchers investigated the blood sugar levels and spikes in individuals with type-1 diabetes when they consumed the natural sweetener. After their research, the researchers concluded, “In conclusion, honey, because of its lower GI [glycemic index] and PII [peak incremental index] when compared with sucrose, may be used as a sugar substitute in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus” .
So, honey has a positive impact on individuals with type-1 diabetes because it may promote beta-cell growth and because of its low glycemic index.
However, if you are considering using honey for this purpose, I would recommend purchasing the rawest, most unprocessed type you can.
Supports Healthy Bacteria
Inside of bees, there is a diverse population of beneficial bacteria, including lactic acid bacteria (LAB), and these bacteria find its way into the honey as it is produced.
In a 2012 study, lactic acid and as it relates to the health of honeybees. The researchers said they uncovered the “largest collections of novel species from the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium ever discovered within a single insect” .
In fact, honey does increase the count and feed these bacteria, as demonstrated in a 2000 study. In the study, researchers conducted an in vitro [petri dish] experiment and found that honey increased the number of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum 10 to 100 times when compared to sucrose . When fed to rats, the honey also significantly increased the number of lactic acid bacteria .
Acts as a Natural Antibiotic
Studies finding that honey acts as a natural antibiotic against bacteria date back almost 20 years.
In 2001, researchers at the Wound Healing Research Unit at the University of Wales College of Medicine studied honey’s effects against a Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in a leg ulcer. The researchers found that “MRSA was eradicated from the ulcer and rapid healing was successfully achieved” . The researchers concluded, “Honey is recognized to have antibacterial properties, and can also promote effective wound healing. A traditional therapy, therefore, appears to have enormous potential in solving new problems” .
In a 2009, in vitro study, researchers examined the honey’s effects once again, against MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA). The researchers found honey to be 100% successful in killing the isolated in planktonic form. The Manuka and Sidr honey also killed 63-73% and 91-91% of the MRSA and PA biofilms, respectively. The researchers concluded, “Honey, which is a natural, nontoxic, and inexpensive product, is effective in killing SA and PA bacterial biofilms. This interesting observation may have important clinical implications and could lead to a new approach for treating refractory CRS [chronic rhinosinusitis] [inflammation of the sinuses and nasal cavity]” .
In a 2008 study, honey was once again found to be effective against MRSA. The researchers remarked that using honey to treat MRSA had a 70% eradication rate with MRSA in chronic venous ulcers .
In a 2012 study, researchers investigated what would happen if Manuka honey was combined with traditional antibiotics to treat MRSA. They found there was a synergistic effect because honey made MRSA much more susceptible to the antibiotic’s effects .
These are only a handful of the studies that have investigated honey’s antibiotic effects, but with these alone, you can get a solid idea of honey’s antibiotic actions.
Helps Fight Dental Plaque
Even though honey may stick to the teeth and be extremely sweet, researchers have found it to be advantageous with preventing the formation of dental plaque.
In a 2010 study, researchers investigated the anti-plaquing effects of Manuka honey and compared them to chlorhexidine gluconate [a mouthwash ingredient] and xylitol. Individual’s mouths were cleaned of any plaque or calculus and were separated into three groups, one for each of the three elements. After the study, honey was measured to be as effective as chlorhexidine gluconate and much more effective than the xylitol, showing that honey can reduce plaque formation .
Kills Herpes Virus Lesions
A 2004 study investigated honey’s effects at killing HSV-1 and HSV-2 lesions, oral and genital, respectively, and compared the results to acyclovir cream, a pharmaceutical drug.
According to the study, for HSV-1 lesions, the average start to finish duration time for attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time was 35%, 39%, 28%, and 43% better, respectively, than the acyclovir treatment.
For HSV-2 lesions, the average start to finish duration time for attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time was 53%, 50%, 49%, and 59% better, respectively, than the acyclovir treatment.
Moreover, only patients in the honey group had cases where their lesions remitted completely, and there were no side effects in the honey group. However, some patients in the acyclovir developed local itching.
The researchers concluded, “Topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes” .
So, we have reviewed some of the natural and beneficial effects of honey. If you are interested in purchasing honey for health reasons, I would recommend considering Manuka honey because as I was researching for this article, it was regularly mentioned.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.