Honey is one of the world’s oldest medicines. Its strong antibacterial and healing properties make it a great natural remedy for many common health problems. It was the most used medicine in ancient Egypt, and was deemed so precious that it was traded as a form of currency!
The Roman legions also treated their wounds with honey, and athletes at the ancient Olympic Games ate honey and dried figs to enhance their sports performance.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, believed in honey as the golden healer. “Honey cleans sores and ulcers, softens hard ulcers of the lips, and heals carbuncles and running sores,” he wrote. Science has shown us that, in fact, the ancients were not so far from the truth:
Sore throats and coughs
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists honey as a substance that relieves irritation in your mouth or throat by forming a protective film. It has strong antibacterial properties and provides temporary pain relief. Combine a spoonful of honey with some freshly-squeezed lemon juice and drink at regular intervals. Honey also relieves mild coughing (especially night-time coughing in young children). It shouldn’t be given to babies younger than a year old though.
Wounds, cuts and burns
As a natural antiseptic, honey can be used as a first aid remedy. According to research published by the journal, Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medication, it inhibits the growth of bacteria and helps keep wounds clean from infection. After gently cleaning the wound with warm water and mild soap, apply a layer of honey on a dressing. Change every 24 hours.
Do you suffer from hay fever? Eating honey that’s local to your area can help boost your immune system and reduce your hay fever symptoms. Honey contains very tiny amounts of the pollen found in your area. These bits aren’t enough to trigger an allergic reaction when you ingest honey, but they do help your body build up a tolerance to the pollen.
Honey has a mild laxative effect that can help combat constipation and bloating. It’s also rich in friendly bacteria, which act as a probiotic and keep the digestive and immune system healthy. For a homemade digestion aid, try tea with honey and lemon. Honey may also be effective in the treatment of ulcers – take about two teaspoons of honey on an empty stomach (half an hour before a meal), up to three times a day to provide pain relief.
Too much to drink? Honey is a great way to help the body deal with the toxic effects of a hangover. According to The Royal Society of Chemistry, the fructose in honey is essential to help the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.
Honey is great for your skin as it locks in moisture. If you suffer from dry skin, dab some honey on your skin, leave for 20 minutes, and rinse off with warm water. Legend has it that Cleopatra’s great beauty was thanks to baths of milk and honey. If you’d like to give it a try, run a warm bath and add a cup of milk and half a cup of honey to the water.
Honey can help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites. Dab a bit of raw honey right on the bite. Honey’s antimicrobial properties will also help prevent infection.
Honey can boost athletes’ performance, endurance levels and reduce muscle fatigue. It provides an easily absorbed supply of energy, making it ideal for energetic morning starts and as a pre- and post-exercise energy source.