It’s no surprise that here at Saratoga Tea & Honey Company, we are BIG fans of honey! From sweetening our tea to livening up our breakfast, we all know how absolutely delicious honey is. However, many people are not aware of the array of health benefits raw honey has to offer! It is important to note that not all honey is created equal, the benefits we will be discussing today are found only in raw honey, like the varieties we proudly sell!
So what is raw honey? Well, raw honey is honey “as it exists in the beehive” -- unprocessed, unpasteurized, and straight from the hive! Raw honey is scraped from the honeycomb, filtered lightly to remove any wax debris, and drained into jars.
Unfortunately most of the honey found at grocery stores and consumed today is pasteurized, meaning its been heated and filtered many times which removes and destroys the pollen, propolis, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that naturally occur in raw honey. The pasteurization process robs the honey of its incredible nutritional value and health benefits! Sadly, many commercial honeys are also deceitfully cut with brown rice syrup, which is undetectable to testing! Pure, raw honey is the only way to ensure you’re getting the real deal!
But enough about that counterfeit honey, let’s get on to discussing raw honey and all of its glorious benefits!
Seasonal Allergy Relief
Probably the most well known health benefit of raw, specifically local, honey is its ability to alleviate seasonal allergies! Raw Honey contains small amounts of bee pollen, which is known to provide natural allergy relief and boost your immune system. This process of using small doses of the “allergen” to prevent allergies is referred to as immunotherapy. When people are treated for allergies generally one of two methods is used, antihistamines or immunotherapy. Antihistamines rarely treat the cause of the problems, they merely lessen the effects. Immunotherapy on the other hand, allows your body to slowly adapt and build up a self-resistance by introducing small and controlled amounts of the allergen into your system. This method of using bee pollen as an effective allergy treatment has become very popular. Likewise, local honey can be used in a similar and effective way!
Natural & Effective Cough Suppressant!
Most people already know this one, but did you know that studies show that raw honey is just as effective, if not more, than over-the-counter cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan? Just a single dose of honey can reduce mucus secretion and coughs!
Promising studies have also shown that raw honey, specifically the dark varieties which tend to be richer in antioxidants, can help inhibit the growth of the Streptococcus mutans, which in some forms causes strep throat, sometimes pneumonia, and also is responsible for dental plaque build-up and cavities! Impressed yet? Hold on, we have many more benefits to discuss!
* Note, it is important that children under the age of 18 months not consume raw honey because it can sometimes contain small amounts of a bacteria that while harmless to older kids and adults, can be harmful to infants' digestive systems that are not mature enough to process it.
A study conducted by the University of Wyoming concluded that the consumption of raw honey with breakfast can activate hormones that help suppress the appetite. Meanwhile, the San Diego State University found that replacing sugar with honey can lower overall sugar consumption, which helps with weight control and lower blood sugar. A study on people with type 2 diabetes found that when compared to sugar, honey didn’t raise glucose levels as much but did increase insulin levels! This would indicate that honey can trigger the secretion of insulin which helps in keeping the blood sugar levels in check.
Rich in Antioxidants
Studies have shown that honey increases the antioxidant value of your blood. Honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are essentially molecules that are out of balance, and high levels of them are believed to make us more susceptible to many diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. One particular antioxidant called pinocembrin is only found in honey, is particularly associated with improved cognitive function and may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease!
Improves Cholesterol Levels
In addition to honey’s other heart-healthy properties, studies have shown that consuming raw honey lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol by 6–11% and triglyceride levels by as much as 11%. It also may also increase "good" HDL cholesterol by about 2%! Combined with the antioxidant level and anti-inflammatory properties make honey an excellent choice to give you an extra edge in fighting cardiovascular disease!
Excellent Source of Energy
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel our bodies like to use for energy. Honey is carbohydrate rich due to its glucose and fructose content, making it a high-powered, natural energy food! Refined sugar provides empty calories, but raw honey contains small amounts of enzymes, amino acids, minerals and trace elements. And because it contains glucose it provides an easily absorbed supply of energy in the form of liver glycogen, which makes it an ideal choice for pre-workout energy fuel and post-workout recovery!
Promotes Restorative Sleep
Seems counterintuitive following the previous benefit, doesn't it? I guess you could say that raw honey is adaptogenic in that it provides equilibrium when and where you need it most! Consuming a spoonful of honey before bed also promotes the production of melatonin in the brain by creating a small spike in insulin levels which stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain which then converts to serotonin, which then converts to melatonin. Wow, just thinking about all of the work our bodies do is making me tired! Long story short, eat honey before bed so your brain and your body can get to work rebuilding tissue and boosting your immune system while you get some shut-eye!
Topical Benefits: First Aid & Beauty
If you’re not already blown away by the plethora of health benefits from consuming honey, perhaps you will find these benefits from topical applications of honey impressive! Honey is anti-everything nasty, it is antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. This makes it tremendously beneficial for any skin issues you may be battling; whether you have acne, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, dull skin, scarring, mild irritations, burns, and wounds, honey can help with healing and calming down irritation. Multiple studies have shown that honey is a natural antibacterial with wound-healing effects. It does some magic when it reacts with the body’s fluids and it creates hydrogen peroxide, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria! Incredible! These same effects combined with it’s nourishing and moisturizing properties are what also makes honey effective against acne and some types of dermatitis such as psoriasis, eczema and dandruff. Honey can be used as a spot treatment, a mask, or added to face washes and moisturizers; a few drops emulsifies surprisingly easily with water, with no stickiness!
So there you have it folks! Honey not only tastes delicious, it has an impressive profile of health benefits, many of them well documented by science! It is recorded that the average person consumes more than 150 pounds of sweetener per year! Why not, swap your sugar and other sweeteners for raw honey and take advantage of all this golden nectar has to offer!