(NaturalNews) Evidence shows that humans have been collecting and using honey for thousands of years. Humans have used honey in multiple ways, consuming it as an edible food and also using honey as a topical cream.
The first sign of humans gathering honey is a six thousand-year-old cave painting in Valencia, Spain, depicting a man climbing up a ladder to collect the sticky substance. Since then, honey has had an interesting history.
Honey has made appearances in Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity, with John the Baptist surviving on only honey and locusts in the Old Testament. When Julius Caesar ruled Rome, honey was used interchangeably with gold as a currency substitute. Honey was quite popular with ancient Egyptians as well, as it was even used in their mummification processes.
Most modern humans stick to consuming honey, although those who are informed apply honey to their skin as well. Honey is most commonly thought of as an alternative sweetener however, used instead of sugar.
Better than sugar?
Honey is a complex substance that is made up of over 100 different compounds. Table sugar is a very different story; literally just made up of sucrose. Sugar has no nutritional value to speak of, devoid of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. Honey, on the other hand, contains vitamins and minerals as well as significant levels of free radical fighting flavonoids and antioxidants.
These health properties of honey translate well under scientific examination. Vitamin E blood levels stay higher, blood levels don't spike as high, and triglyceride levels are improved when honey is eaten instead of an artificial sweetener.
Other alleged health benefits of honey include increased calcium absorption and increased hemoglobin count. Honey has also been used to ease arthritis and help with constipation. One clinical trial found that honey improved indigestion, ulcers, and intestinal inflammation. Many allergy sufferers use honey with success, and one study even found a 60 percent reduction in birch pollen allergy symptoms with honey ingestion. A 2007 study by the Penn State College of Medicine gave clout to honey's reputation as a cough medicine. The study showed honey outperforming an over the counter cough suppressant in severity, frequency, and bothersome nature of coughs.
Honey contains an enzyme which produces hydrogen peroxide, making it useful for cuts and other wounds. Hydrogen peroxide disinfects lacerations and prevents bacteria from growing in the inflicted areas, making honey an excellent topical cut cream. Honey has even shown the potential to combat the notorious staph infection MRSA. Those same antibacterial characteristics give honey the ability to fight acne when applied to skin.
Research supports honey's topical use as well. One study found that honey healed superficial burns more quickly and effectively than the standard medical treatment. Another study found that honey was more effective than the standard medical treatment at healing cesarean sections and abdominal hysterectomies. Honey allowed patients to be free of infection sooner as well as heal their scars faster.
However, not all honey is created equally. As with many foods, getting your honey local and organic will be superior from a nutritional standpoint. Additionally, most honeys have a higher antioxidant content as they get darker, so finding a dark variety of honey such as buckwheat should be prioritized too.
About the author: Ben Hirshberg is a 21 year old student, author, and entrepreneur who studies the art of living well. Born and bred in Seattle, WA, Ben likes to read, cook, run, travel, and throw convivial parties. Ben has PFT, FNS, and YES certifications through WITS and NASM and is in the process of becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and achieving board certification in Holistic Nutrition by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. He also writes regular columns for Paleo Magazine and is hoping to release several books in 2014.
You can get his book A Simple Guide to Mindful and Intuitive Eating for FREE at www.BenHirshberg.com