Friday, May 06, 2011

In Its Raw Form, Honey Can Treat Ulcers, Pollen Allergies, Wounds

By Danielle Haynes, The Tonawanda News, 5/3/2011

Honey has long been heralded as a go-to natural remedy for a sore throat. Brew a cup of tea, add a bit of lemon and some honey and you’re good to go. While it won’t necessarily cure the common cold or flu, it’s helpful in relieving that one symptom.

Scratchy throats aside, certain honeys also have antibacterial and antifungal properties in addition to helping alleviate some allergies and dry skin. Be aware though, not just any honey will do the trick ... there are numerous types of honey out there and each one has different properties depending on where it’s from.

“People tend to think honey is all the same thing but it isn’t,” said Geri Hens, a professional beekeeper who runs Hens Honey Bee Farm in North Tonawanda. “Honey depends on the particular vegetation the bees are foraging on. There are as many different honeys out there as there are bottle of wines and it (varies depending) on how that honey is harvested and processed.”

Manuka honey, for instance, is well known for its superior treatment of wound infections due to the uniquely high antibacterial properties of the manuka bush, which can only be found in New Zealand. Bees that harvest the nectar from this particular bush then pass those antibacterial properties on to the honey they produce.

Catherine Stack, doctor of naturopathy and certified nurse midwife in Niagara Falls, says that manuka honey can be a very effective alternative to traditional antibiotics, which come with side effects like yeast infections and digestive issues. Additionally, antibiotics become less effective over time the more individuals use them.

“People are becoming very resistent to antibiotics because we take them too much,” Stack said. “Manuka honey releases off low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which have very anti-infective properties on wounds.”

Stack says manuka honey is also helpful in treating helicobacter pylori — commonly refered to as H. pylori — an ulcer-causing bacteria in the stomach that is often treated with long-term antibiotics.

“That’s pretty exciting that honey can cure what people are going on massive antibiotics for,” Stack said.

And if you’re want to ditch the allergy medicines, look for honeys made a little closer to home.

Hens, who is the only producer of USDA raw organic honey in N.Y., says eating a daily dose of honey that is harvested with 2 to 3 miles of where you live is an excellent way to fend off sneezing and watery eyes associated with pollen allergies.

“If you had a pollen allergy, you’d want to consume honey that’s got the same vegetation pollen in it (that you’re allergic to) ... what you’re doing is desensitizing your immune system to it and releasing the antihistamine,” Hens said.

The important thing to remember, Hens said, is that once honey is pasturized (heated higher than about 105 degrees) or filtered, it is no longer beneficial because the pollen granules have been removed. Basically the more unadulterated and fresher, the better…

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