What is Honey?
Honey is a substance produced by bees from the nectar of plants. It is commonly used as a sweetener in food. It may also be used as a medicine.
Honey can become contaminated with germs from plants, bees, and dust during production, collection, and processing. Fortunately, there are characteristics of honey that prevent these germs from remaining alive or reproducing. However, some bacteria that reproduce using spores, such as the type that causes botulism, can remain. This explains why botulism has been reported in infants given honey by mouth. To solve this problem, medical-grade honey (Medihoney, for example) is irradiated to inactive the bacterial spores. Medical-grade honey is also standardized to have consistent germ-fighting activity. Some experts also suggest that medical-grade honey should be collected from hives that are free from germs and not treated with antibiotics, and that the nectar should be from plants that have not been treated with pesticides.
Honey is used for cough, diabetes, high levels of cholesterol, asthma, and hay fever. It is also used for diarrhea, ulcers in the mouth caused by cancer treatment, and stomach ulcers caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. Honey is also used as a source of carbohydrate during vigorous exercise or in people who are malnourished. It may also be used orally for wound healing following the removal of tonsils.
Some people apply honey directly to the skin for wound healing, burns, diabetic foot ulcers, gangrene, and treating cataracts or clouding of the cornea in people who were infected by herpes virus. It is also applied to the skin for sunburns, to prevent infections that occur following the use of catheters, and to prevent the spread of cancer cells when a tumor is being removed. Honey is applied inside the mouth and then swallowed to prevent and treat mouth ulcers that occur during cancer treatment and to prevent infections of the gums. It may also be applied to the skin to reduce itching, to treat skin lesions that occur after infection with an organism called Leishmania, for hemorrhoids, and for herpes infections.
Topical use of honey has a long history. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest known wound dressings. Honey was used by the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides in 50 A.D. for sunburn and infected wounds. Honey’s healing properties are mentioned in the Bible, Koran, and Torah.
Honey is used as a nasal spray for hay fever.
Honey is applied into the vagina to improve fertility.
In foods, honey is used as a sweetening agent.
In manufacturing, honey is used as a fragrance and a moisturizer in soaps and cosmetics.