The amber colored, viscous fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers is known as Honey. According to National Board of Honey, a tablespoon of honey consists of 64 calories free of fat, cholesterol and sodium. It primarily consists of 40% of levulose (fructose), 35% Dextrose (glucose) and up to 20% of water. Few years ago, dextrose, levulose and an unknown carbohydrate material named “honey dextrin” were thought to be the ones which formed a simple structure of honey. It is now after development of separation and purification methods it has been proved that apart from them, there are around 22 other sugars contributing to a much more complex structure.
("Apis florea nest closeup" by Sean.hoyland at English Wikipedia)
There are plenty of acids present in honey, giving it its flavour. Although, it only accounts for less 0.5%, it is partly responsible for the excellent stability of honey against microorganisms. Along with amino acids, the presence of proteins in honey allows it to have lower surface tension than it would have otherwise, it will tend to produce foam, create scum and develop air bubbles.
The essential feature which differentiates honey from all other sweetening agents is the presence of enzymes. There are a few enzymes which play an important role such as glucose oxidase which produces gluconic acid from dextrose.
The unusual composition and complex structure makes honey favorable for us, but not for infants under the age of 12 months. A bacterium mainly found in dirt and dust named Clostridium botulinum can contaminate honey and cause a rare paralytic disease called infant botulism. The spores of the bacteria can germinate, produce toxin in the lower bowel and cause muscle weakness and breathing problems. However, there are many properties which are beneficial to others.
Honey is said to be the best and cheapest remedy for pesky colds. A persistent cough could be healed by just 2 tablespoons of honey. It is believed that the sweet taste triggers nerve endings which protects the throat from incessant coughing. Also, the the thick consistency provides a layer around the throat.
2. ALLEVIATES ALLERGIES
Honey’s capability of curing cold and its inflammatory effects has led to belief that it can also reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Even though there are no clinical studies, Dr. Matthew Brennecke, a Neuropathic Doctor at Rocky Mountain Wellness Center has said that honey is a natural vaccine and consists of a small amount of pollen. When our body gets exposed to these in small amounts, immune responses are triggered and produces antibodies to the pollen. Repeated exposure builds up antibodies and gets accustomed to their presence. Technically, the allergic response decreases when less histamine is being released.
3.ALL-NATURAL ENERGY DRINK
Fructose and Glucose are natural unprocessed sugars. They enter our bloodstream directly and increase our blood sugar. This rise in sugar level acts as short term energy source and boosts energy for intensive activities such as exercise.
4. SLEEP AID
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for our mood and happiness whereas, melatonin is a chemical compound which regulates the length and quality of our sleep. Honey increases the amount insulin and serotonin level which the body converts into melatonin. Honey contains multiple amino acids and with the rise in insulin, tryptophan enters the brain and converts serotonin into melatonin. With such high levels of melatonin, a person is put off to sleep without any effort.
In 2001, European published a study stating that if honey is diluted with 10% warm water and applied to dandruff problem areas in scalp and left for 3 hours, it relieves itching and reduces scaling within a week. It has also shown an improvement with hair loss and healed skin lesions within two weeks. This can be an easy and affordable remedy for such common complications.
The variety of honey depends upon the floral source of pollen or nectar gathered and regurgitated by the honeybee upon arrival in the hive. The color intensity increases with increasing antibacterial and antioxidant power. This wide range of honey have been utilized for many medical purposes. Honey is a natural antibiotic and is considered as a conventional treatment for wounds and burns. In a recent study published in British Journal of Surgery, a group of patients were treated with tropical honey for leg ulcers and all except one showed remarkable improvement.
According to Dr. Diane Radford, a breast surgical oncologist in St. Louis, Mo.,
Manuka honey is one of the many kind of honey which is being used to treat chronic leg ulcers and pressure sores.
All of that said, with all of these benefits of honey one should not forget that too much of anything get end up being harmful. Honey is mainly sugar and plays a major role in increasing blood sugar level and thus it needs to be in control. But hey, let’s Bee Positive, Honey!