Lavender Apothecary

Honey: A Sweet Mystery

by Lisa Crown

Table of Contents

Bees, plants, pollen, and honey…there is a mountain of facts and opinions. Most people know that honey, especially “natural honey” may help with a cough or scratchy throat. Maybe it is tasty in tea. So, in what ways is natural honey helpful?

plants, pollen, and honey

Honey is known for its therapeutic qualities, which differ depending on its content. It is influenced by its surrounding flora, as well as its range of environmental conditions. Honey contains many beneficial ingredients, several of which are phytochemicals present in plants, such as compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Study results on the structure, characteristics and natural origins of varied honey types are important because they can help people in the industry, and consumers, know what is authentic.

Artificially created honey is one that is produced through bees that are fed a sugar solution. It is a natural substance, but it is not directly derived from the plant. In a study on the nutritional profile of honey, researchers found that these bees produce honey that is higher in all sugars and provides only a small amount of the beneficial phytochemicals found in authentic honey (Mustafa et al., 2021). It is important to know the difference. In addition, there may be other ingredients mixed with honey. The source of honey can be proven.

A honey’s properties are derived from the bee’s source of nectar. As an example, Safflower’s medicinal property is well known by China’s herbalists, (Zhu et al., 2022). The honey made from Safflower has special properties of the plant and is of a higher nutritional value than others and does carry the flower’s powerful properties (Zhu et al., 2022). Many other types of flowers have been identified in honey, and research has shown there are major differences. Bucekova et al. found that “honey samples from local beekeepers showed superior antibacterial activity compared to the medical-grade honeys” (2020). The biology of locally sourced honey proves to be superior, especially for the people in that region, as would be expected. Honey contains measurable levels of generated hydrogen peroxide. H202, hydrogen peroxide, is produced in greater quantities in natural honey, so even though artificial honey has antimicrobial properties, it is inferior because the bee’s process allows for the reaction required to produce the spectrum of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that honey is known for (Tashkandi, 2021). In the Bucekova et. al study, “more than 40% of the commercial honeys purchased presented low antibacterial activity, which is indicative of artificial honey (only sugars)” (2022). Quality is clearly important when it comes to the benefits of different types of honey.

Can Honey Help if You’re Sick?

Colds, Sore Throat, Cough

Honey used for cough and cold goes back to ancient times. In ancient Greece, honey was considered the nectar of the gods because they used it to treat ailments, including burns. For cough, health organizations around the world recommend honey as a treatment. Ciprandi and Tosca note that “thanks to its viscosity, the saccharides [sugars] adhere to the irritated mucous membranes creating a protective film that reduces the stimulus of cough… leading to a soothing effect” (2021). Honey also maintains hydration in the coated area, with natural honey containing more moisture than artificial honey. This, in turn, improves sleep and allows the body to heal faster. Over-the-counter medications do not have great results, as many tired parents can attest, and natural honey can provide a safer alternative.

Honey has been shown to have positive anti-viral properties as well. Ruoff, Devant, and Hansman tested honey and propolis (material from beehives) as potential Norovirus inhibitors (2022). Norovirus is not easily treated, and it is a major cause of gastroenteritis. Acute gastroenteritis, what some call “Stomach Flu” or “Stomach Bug”, is easily spread. In the study of bee products, “a propolis sample showed promising blocking potential” (Ruoff et al., 2022). Virus-like particles treated with some honeys also showed some blocking potential and “taken together, [their] results found that natural samples might function as norovirus inhibitors” (Ruoff et al., 2022).

Natural honey can provide a Safer Alternative.

Cancer is a leading cause of death and researchers are continuously searching for safer alternatives to traditional chemical treatments. Natural treatments are often suggested to cancer patients as auxiliary and supplemental options to curb symptoms of side effects and reduce patients’ cancer-related complaints. The anti-inflammatory property of honey works to reduce swelling and edema and mediate the fever response to these symptoms (Eteraf-Oskouei & Najafi, 2021). Porcza, Simms, and Chopra conducted a review of current research and have found that natural honey has no major side effects (2016). In patients with skin issues because of radiation, honey has been shown to promote healing (Porcza et al., 2016). In addition, “Oral mucositis, a side effect of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, remains a challenge to manage” (Porcza et al., 2016). The mechanism of honey that binds it at a cellular level to mucous membranes, just as in a sore throat, also provides increased hydration and reduction of bacteria.

Honey also has been proven to improve cellular function by supporting apoptosis, the natural breakdown of bad cells. The enzymes in honey can reach the mitochondria and increase the activity of the apoptotic cycle (Eteraf, et al., 2021). Cancer cells proliferate by inhibiting the necessary proteins which are needed to eliminate bad cells. Honey can cross the mitochondrial barrier and induce this process that breaks down the cell in a normal way. Honey also deactivates inflammatory activation of some cytokines; the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins is decreased (Eteraf, et al., 2021). These are just a few effects of honey on cell function that show promising use against various types of cancer. Research on specific cancer cells continues to increase, and the results shown in smaller studies in labs will prompt even deeper studies. The real benefit comes equally from the lack of side effects and the proven properties of natural honey that cannot be replicated with artificial honey.

The enzymes in honey can reach the mitochondria and increase the activity of the apoptotic cycle.

The sugar content of honey is, of course, a dietary question. But the superior bioavailability of the polyphenols and balance of sugars are proven in natural honey (Mustafa et al., 2021). Honey that is locally produced by farmers in your region is the best option, followed by honey that can be guaranteed to not have been stored improperly, thereby changing its properties. The benefit of local natural honey, like ours, is one of assurance that the honey can be easily accessed and properly treated to achieve the maximum result. Studies of honey in a lab will use concentrated honey at different percentages, and in humans measured in grams. The dosages are different to accommodate the varieties of uses and the purposes of the study. However, one thing stands out across the literature of research studies involving honey; that is natural honey outperforms artificial honey in nearly every aspect. Regardless of how a person chooses to use honey, it must be natural honey, and consulting with a professional for a specific use would be a good idea. For most people, simply replacing the occasional use of sugars in small amounts with natural honey is absolutely a good idea for your well-being.

The first place to look is right in your area. Small batch-produced local natural honey can also be purchased online from a reputable source like our honeybee hives. Purchasing honey from smaller farmers is good for bees and supports the resources needed for food production. The important job of bees in the natural environment is undeniable. Consumer trust in the source is important and we make sure to satisfy stringent requirements for our own infused honey products. You can find a variety of honey with essential extracts to please any taste. The gentle addition of pure organic essential oils gives our honey a unique edge compared with others found in a supermarket.

Lavender Whisper Apothecary was created, we have learned the impact of your skin care products to your health, that is why we use only the high quality ingredients, all natural plant based oils, butters, essential oils, botanicals and clays, we look for ingredient that are beneficial to you skin and your health, all natural emollients, moisturizers, antiseptic, exfoliating, detoxifying and soothing.