Vail health column: Pure, raw honey is nature’s pharmacy
Pure, raw honey contains all the workings of nature’s pharmacy in a compact and delicious package. In its pure, unadulterated, unheated form, it contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The healing aspects of honey go back thousands of years, when Egyptians used it topically to treat wounds. According to WebMD, “Today, many people swarm to honey for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Holistic practitioners consider it one of nature’s best all-around remedies.”
In the laboratory, science has proven that raw honey slows the growth of pathogenic organisms. Even though using raw honey for allergies and immune support lacks the complete scientific backing of researched studies in the United States, I have talked to dozens of people who told me they have eaten raw honey, in conjunction with proper diet and other healing modalities, to fight cancer, fight infections, lower blood sugar and detoxify their systems. The health benefits of honey for these purposes seem to work best when one takes a teaspoonful of raw honey on an empty stomach and waits 30 minutes before eating or drinking.
The myth of local raw honey for allergies stems from a time when only smaller, local producers of honey left their supply unpasteurized. Modern science and global wind currents have proven that raw honey from any part of the world may prove beneficial to your health. It doesn’t matter where it comes from; it matters what you have left in it, and heating above 118 degrees destroys the essential nature of the honey by compromising the enzyme and phytonutrient content.
However, if you work as a farmer in a field of hay, then you may find the best and most immediate results from local raw honey, even though some experts claim that the kinds of pollens that are the greatest causes of allergies are smaller, windblown pollens that are not typically found in honey.
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One of the most medicinal honeys, Manuka, comes only from New Zealand. Manuka honey contains natural antibacterial properties and has so many uses, here are some of the most common: gastritis, stomach ulcers, tonsillitis and sinusitis; skin ailments such as eczema, hives, rosacea and rashes; immunity support, facial masks, common flus, coughs and colds; cuts and burns.
According to Nelson Honey, a purveyor of Manuka, “raw Manuka honey from New Zealand contains more amino acids and vitamins than other honey: B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It has a fructose content of 38 percent, whereas much honey comes in at a fructose content of 50 percent. … Manuka honey also has antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory activity.”
Rata honey, from the southern tip of the southern island of New Zealand, also has profound healing properties because of its chemical composition. It has virtually no high molecular sugars and very low oligosacharides. To some, it makes the beautiful, white honey have an almost salty flavor. For the rest of us, this unique molecular composition enables the honey to pass through the stomach and into the upper small intestine, where it can linger longer than other honeys. This enables the honey to work on bacterial overgrowths in the small intestine as it slowly makes its way toward the colon.
While all raw honey can build the immune system and help wounds and burns heal faster, the darker shades of honey, such as avocado blossom honey and buckwheat honey, have a history of helping with respiratory conditions and congestion of the lungs in Europe and Australia.
In Australia, people use jarrah honey to treat wounds, burns and skin infections. It has been scientifically researched and proven by scientists working at the University of Sydney that the antimicrobial quality of jarrah honey makes it an excellent dressing for golden staphylococcus infections, E. coli, candida and ulcerated wounds.
Historical and anecdotal use of honey for various ailments and conditions goes back thousands of years and seems to indicate that raw honey has various medicinal and practical uses. Some people swear that it helps ameliorate the effects of seasonal allergies and that it also kills off parasitic infections resistant to antibiotics. For most of us, the delicious taste of honey makes it a natural treat worth trying for its healing properties.
Delling Zing has worked in the health food industry and as a therapeutic chef for more than 20 years. He specializes in integrating super foods, healing herbs and medicinal foods into his all-organic cooking. He grew up eating fresh, raw comb honey and makes organic foods at Freshies in Edwards.