Friday, February 06, 2009

Honey and Health

Valentine's Day Feast: Honey for Your Honey
Neil Zevnik, Huffington Post, 2/5/2009

The amazing benefits to be found in honey have less to do with nutritional values and more to do with antioxidant and anti-microbial properties that are unique to this natural sweetener. Honey is not a significant source of vitamins and minerals, but it contains several compounds that are thought to function as antioxidants, including two specific phytonutrients that have been shown to shut down the activity of colon cancer-causing enzymes.

It appears that a strange and wonderful synergy is created by the combination of the nectar from the flowers, enzymes in the bees' saliva, and propolis or "bee glue", which produces results greater than the sum of its parts. The First International Symposium of Honey & Human Health in January of 2008 presented research papers that included findings that suggested that large amounts of "friendly bacteria" may account for honey's therapeutic properties, that honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, and that honey is a more effective cough suppressant in children than the widely-used popular medicine dextromethorphan.

[Important Note: honey should never be given to infants under one year of age; botulism spores may be present, causing bacterial infections in the intestinal tract.]

Another traditional use of honey is as a dressing for wounds, and research is now figuring out exactly why it is so incredibly effective - again, a unique combination of ingredients that dry out the wound and provide anti-bacterial and antiseptic benefits. Honey reduces odors, swelling, and scarring; in fact, a recent study in India involving burn patients found that honey was vastly superior to conventional treatments in suppressing infection and speeding healing. Sweet indeed!

And let us not neglect to mention that honey has been used for centuries as a natural, fragrant and wholly pleasing beauty treatment, due to its humectant qualities and silky feel. It is said that Cleopatra herself owed much of her legendary beauty to a daily infusion of golden honey...

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