Sussanna Ngodoo Jacob
Interestingly, honey has been with us since time immemorial as a remarkable natural sweetener that also boosts numerous medicinal benefits with its extremely acidic nature.
Honey is a prohibited area for most bacteria and microorganisms.
Broadly, the health benefits of honey which can be traced to its antibacterial, antifungal, hygroscopic and antioxidant properties follow below:
•Treats cough and throat irritation: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends honey as an effective cough medication with comparable efficacy to dextromethorphan, a popular over-the-counter medication used in the treatment of cough and its associated sleeping difficulty in children.
Also, health authorities in the United Kingdom recommend a warm drink of lemon and honey in the treatment of cough or throat irritation in children except those who are under 1 year of age since they stand the risk of developing infant botulism from honey consumption.
•Treats wounds: Honey has been extensively applied in the treatment of skin wounds by virtue of its antibacterial, antifungal and hygroscopic properties. It helps to absorb excess moisture from wounds (hygroscopy) and effectively fights off infectious agents in most wounds.
In addition, honey has debriding properties hence, it helps to remove dead or necrotic tissues from wounds, keeping them clean and promoting wound healing. All these properties are in keeping with the findings of the National Institutes of Health.
Furthermore, honey encourages the production of hydrogen peroxide in the wound through the activity of an enzyme glucose oxidase which helps to fend off infection by obligate anaerobes, particularly Clostridium tetani that is responsible for tetanus, a feared complication of improperly treated wounds.
•Treats ulcers and bacterial gastroenteritis: Honey has also been found useful in the management of ulcers and bacterial infections of the gut. Helicobacter pylori is a common culprit in the pathophysiology of Peptic Ulcer Disease and honey, through its antimicrobial activity may play a role in the eradication of this microorganism.
Similarly, its antibacterial activity accounts for its potential usefulness in treating bacterial gastroenteritis. In clinical studies, honey has been shown to kill Salmonella and Escherichia coli which are common causative agents of food poisoning.
•Treats seasonal allergies: Because honey contains traces of flower pollen, exposure to these allergens while eating honey may lead to immune responses that reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions. However, this potential benefit has not been adequately proven and is still being researched.
•Good for athletes: Honey has been shown to boost the performance of athletes. Honey is calorie-dense and a tablespoon of it contains about 17g of carbohydrates apart from additional nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
According to the National Honey Board, it’s rewarding for athletes to add honey to their bottle of water to boost energy during workouts.
More still, modern studies revealed that athletes that eat honey have improved recovery time and sustained glycemic levels when compared to their counterparts who consume other sweeteners.
•Treats dandruff and other scalp disorders: By virtue of its antibacterial and antifungal properties, honey has been applied in the treatment of dandruff and similar scalp conditions. A study was done on patients with chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
In all the patients, considerable resolution of symptoms and disease was obtained within 2 weeks of honey treatment.
•Boosts-memory: According to Reuters, honey may show some benefit in boosting memory. A research conducted on some healthy post-menopausal women found that those who ate honey performed better on short-term memory tests than others.
Don’t feed honey to babies who are less than one year old, it may cause infant botulism. Clostridium bacteria that cause infant botulism usually thrive in soil and dust. However, they can also contaminate certain foods, honey in particular.
Infant botulism can cause muscle weakness, with signs like poor sucking, a weak cry, constipation, and an overall decreased muscle tone (floppiness).
Parents can reduce the risk of infant botulism by not introducing honey or any processed foods containing honey (like honey graham crackers) into their baby’s diet until after the first birthday.
Light and dark corn syrups are thought by some to also contain botulism-causing bacteria, but no proven cases of infant botulism have been attributed to ingesting these products.
However, check with your doctor before giving these syrups to an infant. As kids get older their bodies are better able to handle the bacteria.
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