Studies have shown that regular consumption of honey has many health benefits, such as improvement of allergic rhinitis (AR) symptoms, wound-healing properties, and improvement in cardiometabolic health. Individuals who deal with seasonal allergies have to create a treatment plan that reduces their exposure to pollen grain. During the springtime, there is an increase in pollen grains circulation. However, it also means that there is an increase in production of honey. Depending on your type of allergen, honey could help alleviate some of the allergy symptoms. In this article I will discuss the basics of honey, the benefits of daily honey consumption, and the variety of ways to use honey in your diet.
What is honey?
Honey is the sweet, yellowish-brown fluid that bees and other insects produce out of the nectar collected from flowers. Bees gather and refine the flower nectar, through regurgitation and enzyme activity, in order to make honey. Bees eat part of the honey they create to provide them energy for metabolic activity, such as their flight muscles during foraging, and to feed their larvae. Along with this, bees store extra honey to nourish bee colonies during overwintering, when normal activity or survival is nearly impossible. Since bees generate more honey than the colony needs, beekeepers often harvest the surplus for human consumption.
According to the non-profit organization Mayo Clinic, “there are about 320 different varieties of honey, which vary in color, odor and flavor.” While other insects, such as wasps found in South and Central America, feed on nectar and produce honey, most of the honey used for human consumption is often produced by honeybees.
Health benefits of honey
Honey is mostly made up of sugars; fructose, glucose, and sucrose. It also contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, zinc and iron. Additionally, most people use honey as a natural sweetener. However, it does have some health benefits, such as helping raise glucose levels. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, one tablespoon of honey (21g) provides 267 kilojoules (64 kilocalories) of food energy. This high sugar concentration can help people with hyperglycemia boost their low sugar levels.
In addition to boosting glucose levels, honey can help treat coughing and relieve some cold symptoms. In a 2012 study, “Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study,” honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing in children aged 2 and older, than the placebo did.
Now, there are many studies that are researching wound-healing properties of honey. For example, in an article that was posted on Cochrane, they reviewed evidence from 26 studies that observed the effects of applying honey on any kind of wound. “There is high quality evidence that honey heals partial thickness burns around 4 to 5 days more quickly than conventional dressings,” as stated on Cochrane. “There is moderate quality evidence that honey is more effective than antiseptic followed by gauze for healing wounds infected after surgical operations.” Also, in a 2017 study, “Bee-derived antibacterial peptide, defensin-1, promotes wound re-epithelialisation in vitro and in vivo”, it was reported that defensin-1 protein, which is a common factor in honey, promotes cutaneous wound closure.
Furthermore, there are studies that are observing the effects of daily consumption of honey on allergy symptoms. For Instance, in the study, “Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia,” 40 patients with Allergic Rhinitis (AR) were given 10 mg of loratadine every day, which is a standard medication to help treat allergy symptoms, along with 1 g/kg body weight of honey for the case group, and 1 g/kg body weight of honey-flavored corn syrup for the control group. The patients would be scored at week 4 and week 8, for any changes in symptoms such as nasal itchiness, nasal blockage, rhinorrhea, sneezing, eye itchiness, etc. At 4 weeks, both the case and control group showed improvements in their symptoms and that there was not much of a difference in the mean total symptom score. However, at week 8, only the case group showed continuous improvement and it lasted for up to a month after the treatment ended. For that reason, they concluded that honey could serve as complementary therapy for allergic rhinitis.
Other findings about honey consumption
In contrast, some studies have shown that honey does not affect alleviating symptoms of conditions such as rhinoconjunctivitis. In a study that was conducted by University of Connecticut Health Center's Lowell P. Weicker General Clinical Research Center called Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis, they observed 39 participants with common allergens. The participants were split into 3 groups; one group received nationally collected, filtered, and pasteurized honey, the second group received locally collected, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey, and the third group received corn syrup with synthetic honey flavoring. “This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis,” said the researchers from “Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis.”
Honey is a natural sweetener and is often recommended as a healthier alternative to sugar. According to the National Honey Board Consumer Attitudes and Usage Study of 2020, honey has increasingly become America’s favorite sweetener, with a total of 27%. Here are some ways that you can eat honey:
- Add a spoonful of honey to a warm cup of brewed tea.
- Make a nice salad dressing like a honey-lemon vinaigrette salad dressing.
- Mix yogurt and honey. Add toppings such as fresh fruits and granola.
- Spread honey on a slice of toast.
Also, honey is a great substitution for sugar. In “Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal: The Best and Worst Choices to Treat Your Ailments Naturally”, “the ratio of one part honey for honey for every 1 ¼ parts of sugar: The liquid in the recipe may need to be decrease, however, to compensate for the water that is present in honey.
In conclusion, honey is a great sweetener and contains some health benefits. For Example, daily consumption of honey can boost high blood pressure, be a great addition to an allergy treatment plan, help treat coughs, aid in wound healing, and much more. Though many studies have resulted in the discovery of the healing properties of honey, many researchers are still conducting studies to observe the effects that honey can have on improving our health.
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in