My journey with raw honey led me to a deeper understanding of this natural product and along the way I learned more about the health of my body and what it needs to thrive and survive.
History of Humans and Raw Honey
According to the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences human’s use of raw honey goes way back, 8000 years no less, with paintings from the Stone Age depicting this connection. The use of raw honey transcends cultures and many nationalities have adopted their own home remedies. In 1892 Van Ketel recognised the antibacterial activity in raw honey and in 1915 one of the earliest official records was in the Journal of the American Medical Association which states sugar was used to help heal soldiers during WW1.
It’s not a new thing raw honey being used for medical reasons, but with the discovery of penicillin in 1928 and the introduction of antibiotics, raw honey for healing got filed away under the heading ‘old wives’ tale’. Now, don’t get me wrong, penicillin has done amazing things in the field of medicine in saving people’s lives. But, with overuse we are hearing more and more of humans becoming resistant to antibiotics and that’s a serious situation to be in. In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 2 million people in the USA alone were infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year and 23,000 people die as a result.
Understanding Raw Honey for Healing
Raw, unpasteurised honey is good for our general health as it’s rammed packed full of Amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and natural sugars. It helps prevents colds, aids gut health and boosts our immunity. I take a great big dollop of it every day to keep the bugs at bay. That’s all good, but I think one of the most interesting qualities to come to light in recent years is the use of high grade honey in wound care. Manuka honey with a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) 12 + has shown to help increase the healing of bed sores, wounds, burns, ulcers and acne. I was surprised and pleased to learn it has been available on prescription in the UK for the past 12 years. It was also approved by US Federation Drug Administration in 2007 as a recommended wound treatment. The use of silver and iodine are still most commonly used for the treatment of wounds but it seems people are waking up to the idea of filtered medical grade honeys being used for healing as more licensed wound care dressings and products are being marketed and we can buy direct from pharmacies and clinics.
What’s also amazing is the growing evidence as shown by the work of Professor Rose Cooper, from the Centre for Biomedical Sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK that some medicinal honeys can stop super bugs like MRSA in their tracks. Implementing high grade honey on its own and when mixed with certain antibiotics can in some cases reduce infection. There are also findings that certain raw honey can help with treatments for cancer especially aiding the oesophagus when using intravenous lines, reducing inflammation. There are also studies that show strong indications that raw honey can help heal the gut in chronic conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Ulcerative Colitis.
Now, I’m no doctor and do your own research but it’s worth pondering as to why in all my searching I haven’t found more clinical trials that are conclusive apart from small survey examples. Surely if there is a possibility that something so natural can do something so good, especially given its long therapeutic history, there should be more extensive research done and supported by scientists to understand the full extent of what is possible?
What Does Raw Honey Contain to Make It Therapeutic?
Well it can be complex but here is my simple explanation. Bees excrete glucose oxidase into the nectar and this enzyme produces hydrogen peroxide when the honey is in contact with a wound. It’s like a disinfectant. Heated honey destroys this affect so only use raw honey on your cuts and pimples and not the mass commercial stuff. Manuka honey has another active antibacterial component, methylglyoxal (MG). The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect. Manuka is derived from the tea tree Leptospermum scoparium which grows in Australia and New Zealand, you can read more on Manuka and the work being done in my previous posts, Gatherby and Australian Medicinal Honey and True to Taste But is Your Manuka the Real Deal?.
Always seek the advice of a medical professional first, particularly for more serious wounds or abrasions and if an infection isn’t healing. If you do go down the road of administering raw honey, make sure you understand how to do this properly. Like I say, seek the advice of a medical professional, but it’s good to know there are options.
Proof that Raw Honey Can Heal
Hilda Paz Robles took to Twitter earlier this year and showed the before and after shots of her face. Having suffered with severe cystic acne, a relative advised her to drink green tea and to make a face mask including raw honey and green tea leaves. She did this a few times per week and she started to see dramatic changes. According to dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, raw honey is good for reducing redness, soothing inflammation and killing bacteria because of the raw honey’s osmosis effect on the skin. It can draw out fluid and helps reduce inflammation.
World Health Day
This year’s World Health Day focusses on health for all with the tagline ‘universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere’. It’s important to have a day that highlights issues for people around the world and help raise awareness, something we should take note of more often.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. They incur so-called “catastrophic expenditures”.
World Health Day brings to our attention many things and most of all that we are not alone, we are all connected, and we need to question and be more aware. I recently met an amazing beekeeper in Australia, Gabrielle Morley, who shared her story of how she combatted skin cancer. After conducting research through various universities in the Middle East on Bedouins their lifestyle and the regular intake of the highly nutritious seeds from the phoenix date palms that have shown to have many healing properties, she took to her kitchen and roasted and ground her own seeds and leeched the properties out with emu oil. She made a cream with beeswax and administered topically onto the lump for a week and it disappeared. This is after three years of pain. She finished recounting her story and relayed the words of her late father, ‘open your eyes and your ears and your brain will grow’.
So, what do we need to do to understand our health better and make better choices? Sometimes what is good for us is right in front of our nose.