Antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity
Honey’s antimicrobial effect can be attributed to its low water activity; antibacterial agent hydrogen peroxide; and non-peroxide antibacterial substances such as aromatic acids, phenolics, and flavonoids. The low pH level can also be responsible for the antibacterial activity.
Some of honey’s antimicrobial properties can be destroyed by heat, light, and storage. It is thus best to store honey in a cool, dark place.
Protection against oxidation is thought to prevent some chronic diseases. Honey has been found to contain significant antioxidant activity including glucose oxidase, catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoid derivatives, organic acids, Maillard reaction products, amino acids, and proteins.
Fresh honey will have higher levels of antioxidants compared to honey that was in storage for a long time.
Certain honey, such as buckwheat and manuka honey, have higher levels of antioxidants.
Anticancer / Antitumor activity
All honey exhibited antimutagenic and antitumor activity. Nigerose, another sugar, present in honey, has an immunoprotective activity. Studies indicate that honey activates the immune system and honey ingestion may be advantageous with respect to cancer and metastasis prevention. Also, honey given orally before tumour cell inoculation may have a decreased effect on tumour spreading.
In another study, honey was an effective agent for inhibiting the growth of different bladder cancer cell lines in vitro.
Honey is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and works by preventing the formation of free radicals released from the inflamed tissues. The reduction of inflammation could be due to the antibacterial effect of honey or to a direct anti-inflammatory effect.
Honey often used in on wounds as a topical treatment and as an oral remedy.
It is hypothesized that intake of honey will help your body build immunity against pollen. There are many anecdotal evidences to support this; however, no scientific study has verified this.
In experiments, honey showed an immunosuppressive activity. Eating honey stimulates antibody production.
Therefore, the alleviating effect of honey on allergy symptoms may not be entirely due to traces of local pollen in the honey.
Penn State College of Medicine research team found honey to be a more effective cough suppressant compared to over-the-counter medicine. Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection.
Since over-the-counter medicine are not recommended for children under 6 years old, due to its lack of effectiveness and side effects, honey is the better solution when it comes to alleviating coughs for children.
This study used buckwheat honey, and it is the sought-after remedy for cold symptoms.
Honey has not only antioxidant and antibacterial effects, but also soothing effect.
Honey is a popular ingredient in lotions, shampoo, soap, and more. Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture.
Honey’s antioxidants will help with aging. Antibacterial agents will attack your acne. It will moisturize and cleanse your pores, and boost your complexion, creating a glowing skin.
See one of our recipes for creating a honey mask.
Honey’s antibacterial activity inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes caries. Potent antimicrobial honey such as buckwheat and manuka honey can have a positive effect against dental plaque development and gingivitis.
However, it is still recommended to clean the teeth after eating honey.
From the ancient times and various cultures (Middle-east, Asia, Europe), honey has been used to treat gastro-intestinal disorders. Modern studies confirm that honey prevents and treats:
- Peptic ulcers
- Gastritis, gastroenteritis
Honey has also shown to stimulate the growth of intestinal probiotics and improve protein / lipid digestibility. In infants and children, honey shortens the duration of bacterial diarrhoea.
In certain cases, consumption of 50 to 100g of honey can lead to a mild laxative effect and is used in Eastern Europe as a treatment for constipation.
The dietary significance of carbohydrates is often indicated in the terms of the glycemic index (GI). Carbohydrates with a high GI induce a high blood glucose level. Food with a low GI show provide benefits to people with diabetes and coronary heart disease. Honey’s GI is lower than that of other sweeteners.
Study showed that eating honey led to smaller increases of blood insulin and glucose than glucose or sugar. It was also shown that consumption of honey has a favourable effect on diabetes patients, causing a significant decrease of plasma glucose. Honey was well tolerated by patients with diabetes.
Data suggest a nutritional benefit of substituting other sweets by honey for people struggling with weight gain.
Infants on a diet with honey:
- Had better blood formation
- Higher weight gain
- Had shorter phases of crying
- Showed less throw up
- Had better skin colour
- Had less digestion problems
- Were less susceptible to diseases
- Suffered less frequently from diarrhoea
- Had more haemoglobin (carries oxygen to the body) in their blood
- Had an improved calcium uptake
- Had lighter and thinner faeces
Although there are numerous benefits of honey for infants, there is the danger of Clostridium botulinum. The presence of this bacterium in natural foods is ubiquitous and is not unique to honey.
In Germany, one case of infant botulism per year is reported. Not all cases are attributed to honey. In Canada, since 1979, only 42 cases were reported, and only 3 of these cases were linked to honey.
Only about 10% of honey sold in the market have botulinum spores present and these spores are not destroyed by pasteurizing. Pasteurizing of honey is done at around 60⁰C (140⁰F). Spores will only be killed at 120⁰C or higher.
Energy Food for Athletes
Honey is well tolerated and can be an effective carbohydrate source for athletic performance. It increases significantly the heart frequency and the blood glucose level during the performance. It did not promote physical or psychological signs of hypoglycaemia in fasted athletes or during resistance training.
Honey had a positive effect on hepatitis A patients. It caused a decrease of the alanine aminotransferase activity (by 9 to 13 times) and a decrease of bilirubin production by 2.1 to 2.6 times.
Honey has a supportive effect on patients who have undergone a cancer radiation therapy by reducing the incidence of radiation mucositis. There was a significant reduction in the symptomatic grade ¾ mucositis among honey-treated patients compared to the controls. 55% of the patients treated with honey showed no change or a positive gain in body weight compared to the controls, the majority of which lost weight.
Honey was administered to chemotherapy patients with neutropenia and was found to reduce the need for colony-stimulating factors.
The majority of the scientific information here has been gathered by Honey for Nutrition and Health: A Review, Journal of the American College of Nutrition · January 2009 by Stefan Bogdanov, PhD, Tomislav Jurendic, Robert Sieber, PhD, Peter Gallmann, PhD