Raw honey has been used for its medicinal value for thousands of years by many cultures.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote of the medical uses of honey.  All the major religious texts mention the health benefits of honey.  Raw honey—honey which has not been filtered, heat-treated, or processed—is not just a healthy food. It is a powerful medicine when taken internally or used topically.  The favorable effects of raw honey as a natural medicine for a wide variety of ailments are well known in folk medicine and are beginning to be documented in the modern scientific literature.

Its chemical composition makes it easier to digest than regular sugar, and its metabolism does not stimulate insulin secretion to the same degree as does sugar.  Thus honey can be used in small amounts as a healthy substitute for regular sugar and artificial sweeteners.    It also contains small amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Common indications for oral ingestion of honey include: insomnia, anorexia, stomach and intestinal ulcers, constipation, osteoporosis, and laryngitis.  A clinical trial in Saudi Arabia found honey to relieve dyspepsia (chronic indigestion).  It was also found to help heal bleeding ulcers and GI inflammation.  Manuka honey from New Zealand was found to inhibit the growth of H. pylori, the bacteria that is sometimes responsible for the development of ulcers.  Research has confirmed honey’s ability to act as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, as well as its antifungal and antiviral properties.

Indications for the external application of honey include treatment of athlete’s foot, eczema, lip sores, and both sterile and infected wounds resulting from accidents, surgery, bed sores, or burns.  In many countries, including France and Germany, physicians recommend using honey as a first line of defense against burns, superficial wounds, and in some cases, even deep lesions such as abscesses.  Wounds treated with raw honey generally heal faster and with less scarring than with conventional treatments.  Raw honey is a natural and painless antiseptic. It kills germs because it is hydrophilic, meaning it absorbs or attaches to water in its environment thus dehydrating any bacteria it comes in contact with.  In addition, honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. This enzyme is converted to hydrogen peroxide, which is another powerful anti-microbial agent.  In a 1991 study, honey was compared with silver sulfadiazine, the standard treatment for burn patients, and the results were astounding.  Only 8% of patients treated with honey developed infections, compared to 92% of those treated with the silver sulfadiazine.

In addition to the previously mentioned medicinal uses for honey, it has also been shown to reduce the average size of postoperative scars significantly, treat cataracts and conjunctivitis, normalize the digestive microflora, calm the nerves, and facilitate sleep.  These are just a few of the many uses for honey.

(from material provided by Andrew Kochan, MD, 6-08)