Honey has always been an important part of traditional medicine and foods due to its rich nutritional and therapeutic properties. In modern times, the role of honey in food, skin care products and medicines to treat diseases such as cancer, microbial infection, wounds, burns, etc. through laboratory and clinical studies is well known. Of course, these properties, which are mentioned below, can be achieved by buying and consuming natural honey.
1. Honey to heal wounds
Honey has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immune modulating activities and is therefore used to treat a variety of wounds, burns, amputations, wounds and surgical incisions. Antimicrobial activity and high viscosity, respectively, prevent infection and moist environment around the wound, which facilitates healing. The anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating properties of honey reduce inflammation and increase the immune system’s response, which in turn regenerates tissue and accelerates wound healing activity. The high osmolarity of honey due to its high solute content causes osmotic release, which removes dirt and debris from wounds, and the presence of amino acids, vitamins and minerals directly nourishes regenerating tissues. Due to these properties, the Russians used honey to treat wounds during World War I. The Germans used honey with fish liver oil to treat burns, pimples, wounds and even fistulas.
2. Honey as medicine
Honey has a number of therapeutic effects due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Antimicrobial properties help prevent microbial infections. Honey has been reported to be effective in treating gastrointestinal infections such as duodenitis and stomach ulcers and skin infections such as athletes’ feet, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and others. The use of honey in the treatment of herpes of the lips and genitals is reduced compared to acyclovir creams with signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions.
In a laboratory study, 20% honey solution inhibited the growth of H. pyroli, the pathogen that causes gastritis. Honey has a very low glycemic index compared to glucose and sucrose and produces lower serum sugar (glucose and fructosamine) compared to sucrose and dextrose, and therefore can be used as an anti-diabetic drug instead of artificial sugars in the diet. Used by diabetics.
Honey has been reported to improve blood lipid profile, homocysteine and C-reactive protein levels in healthy people as well as people with high blood fats. In addition, honey also increased serum insulin levels in diabetic rats. Honey also has anti-cancer properties due to its ability to prevent cell proliferation, promote apoptosis, induce mitochondrial membrane depolarization and modify cell cycle progression in cancer cells. Honey can cure respiratory diseases such as sore throat, cough, asthma and acute bronchitis by reducing infection and microbial inflammation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also identified honey as a potential anticonvulsant for coughs and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Honey can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its flavonoids; Because flavonoids increase the dilation of coronary arteries, reduce the ability of platelets to clot and prevent LDL oxidation.
3. Honey and oral health care
In oral health care, the properties of honey are used to reduce plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis, bad breath, oral mucosa and dry mouth due to radiation and periodontal disease. The antimicrobial properties of honey reduce microbial growth and also intensify the formation of biofilms. Dental plaque caused by bacteria with the ability to form biofilms and produce acids causes the loss of minerals and damage the structure of the teeth and cause tooth decay. The use of manuka honey has been reported to prevent plaque formation by inhibiting biofilm growth and reducing acid production.
Gingival problems are caused by inflammation of the gingival tissues. Manuka honey-based mouthwash has been shown to be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash. In one study, the effect of chewing honey (honey with wax) on plaque formation and the number of bacteria was investigated. The results showed that the number of bacteria decreased and the role of honey in preventing tooth decay and gingivitis was determined.
4. Honey and ophthalmology
The role of honey in the treatment of eye diseases has been known since ancient times. Through clinical studies, it has been confirmed that topical use of honey is effective in treating non-reactive eye diseases such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis and keratitis. In this study, honey was used as an ointment on the lower eyelid of 102 patients. This improved the condition of 85% of all patients, while in the remaining 15% no deterioration or progression of the disease was reported. The role of honey in the treatment of burns caused by chemical and thermal agents, as well as corneal and conjunctival damage due to antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, has also been identified.
5. Honey in the food industry as a preservative and prebiotic
Several antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds in honey prevent food from oxidizing during storage and prevent the growth of various bacteria, thus preventing spoilage. Hence, honey is used as a preservative of foods such as meat, fruit juices and so on. In contrast, honey also shows a prebiotic effect and maintains the balance of intestinal microflora by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and suppressing other harmful bacteria. The prebiotic capacity of honey is related to its oligosaccharide content. In one study, honey was reported to control the growth of intestinal bacteria in rats. It has been reported that single-flower honeys of clover, sage, sour wood and alfalfa have strong prebiotic properties.
6. Honey nutrients
Honey is a rich source of carbohydrates along with proteins, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. The carbohydrate content of honey provides more energy than artificial sugars due to its high ratio of fructose to glucose and other sugars. Therefore, athletes consume honey as an energy source before, during and after endurance training. A small part of honey contains antioxidants that are involved in inhibiting free radicals. Consumption of honey improves the antioxidant status of the body and strengthens the body against oxidative stress.
Honey contains enzymes and micronutrients that facilitate easy digestion and absorption of important dietary nutrients needed for proper metabolism and body function. Due to several nutritional benefits, honey is preferred as a sweetener over artificial sugars. In addition, honey provides calcium, which is easily absorbed by the body and prevents bone-related disorders such as osteoporosis or bone loss in the elderly. Honey not only has benefits for adults, but also for children.
7. Honey and cosmetics
Honey is used in various cosmetic products such as face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, anti-wrinkle cream, soap, anti-acne products and so on. Honey has a moisturizing nature and shows keratolytic properties, thus nourishing the skin, keeping it moisturized and preventing wrinkles. Honey is used in shampoos, soaps and other bath-related products due to its cleansing properties.
The exfoliating properties of honey are attributed to fruit acids and are therefore used to remove dead skin. The flavonoid content of honey prevents skin irritation and is therefore used in sunscreens. The antimicrobial properties of honey reduce microbial infection and treat acne. Honey also strengthens the upper protective layer of the skin by maintaining a mildly acidic pH. Honey is used instead of traditional emulsifiers in shampoos and body lotions. Hydroxypropyl trimonium honey is used in shampoos and conditioners. Honey penetrates deep into the hair shaft and restores the flexibility and elasticity of the hair.
Honey is an amazing organic compound that has been used for centuries for nutrition and healing purposes. Recent scientific studies have rediscovered the medicinal role of honey in the treatment of various diseases and disorders, especially for the treatment of wounds. Despite its many beneficial properties, the potential of honey is very little used. The unused potential of honey is due to the lack of accurate information about the biological role of each of the components of honey. Research has also shown that different types of honey differ in their physicochemical properties (which affect their biological properties). Therefore, in order to maximize the unlimited potential of honey, it is important to define the role of each component and standardize them through further scientific studies.