Honey has been used to promote healing for thousands of years. Here’s what we know today about the health benefits of honey, and its limitations.
For children suffering from an upper respiratory infection, two teaspoons of honey may work better than cough medicine to relieve hacking and improve their sleep, according to research and parent surveys. Moms and dads with their own coughs have also found success with the remedy.
Kids under age 1 shouldn’t be given honey because of the risk of infant botulism, which is a rare but serious side effect that can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems.
Manuka honey, the handiwork of honeybees overseas, may help treat wounds, such as pressure ulcers or burns, when doctors apply it directly.
An FDA-approved wound and burn dressing called Medihoney uses this special type of honey made from the nectar of the manuka tree in New Zealand and Australia.
Treating wounds with honey, which has ancient origins, has gained traction anew because of increasing germ resistance to widely used antibiotics.
Studies show Manuka has strong antibacterial properties thanks largely to hydrogen peroxide produced in honey. However, studies remain mixed on its use to treat wounds. Talk with a health professional before applying any of the sticky stuff, Manuka or other, to minor burns, cuts or scrapes at home.
We all know too much of anything sweet can increase the risk of cavities. However, one study found that gently applying honey to the gingival sulcus, essentially the area where your teeth and gums meet, significantly reduced plaque formation.
Doing this a couple times daily had similar effect as using mouthwash, and both worked better than chomping on sugar-free gum that uses xylitol as a sugar substitute.
Honey contains minerals including iron, calcium and potassium. That’s in addition to being slightly acidic, something that helps to prevent bacterial growth. Taken together, there’s reason to believe consuming honey could boost your immune system.
Even so, experts say more research is needed to determine its exact impact. If you want to give it a sweet shot, purchase darker varieties, such as Buckwheat honey, shown to have higher levels of antioxidants than lighter honeys.
So bees make honey, in part, by throwing up nectar. Good to know, right? Well, in a twist, some doctors think all that evaporated insect puke could help people who suffer from acid reflux, keep food down.
At present, though, there’s no scientific evidence that demonstrates honey effectively treats acid reflux or heartburn. Critics note sweet stuff — like refined sugar — can worsen symptoms by promoting acid production.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, “no convincing scientific evidence” shows that honey can relieve seasonal allergy symptoms despite many claims to the contrary.
On the flip side, though not common, some people are allergic to honey.
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