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Honey -Thick Sweet Liquid with Health Benefits

Dr Sampurna Roy MD  


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Honey is thick sweet liquid made by bees from the nectar they collect from the flowers.

It was discovered long ago that honey was good as human food, and for many centuries it was used for nearly all sweetening.

In some countries honey is still used in cooking many foods, not only cakes and pastries, but also rice, meat, chicken and jam.

Honey is sometimes used to make an old-fashioned alcoholic drink called "mead" which was well known in Great Britain before the Norman conquest in 1066.

It was believed that the gods on Mount Olympus drank a kind of honey drink called nectar, and honey is mentioned a number of times in the Bible.

In the Book of Exodus, a land "flowing with with milk and honey" was promised to the children of Israel during their 40 years' wandering in the wilderness.

This description meant to them a country blessed with all the good things of the earth.

The flavour, thickness and colour of honey depend very much on the flowers from which the bees take nectar.


Honey bee queens mate with multiple males, which increases the total genetic diversity within colonies and has been shown to confer numerous benefits for colony health and productivity.

Queen "quality" significantly varied among commercial sources for physical characters but not for mating characters.

Due to the variation of botanical origin honey differs in appearance, sensory perception and composition.

The main nutritional and health relevant components are carbohydrates, mainly fructose and glucose but also about 25 different oligosaccharides.

Although honey is a high carbohydrate food, its glycemic index varies within a wide range from 32 to 85, depending on the botanical source.

It contains small amounts of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, aroma compounds and polyphenols.


 Health benefits of Honey:



1)  Honey is an ancient natural remedy for the treatment of burns and infected wounds.

It has regained attention in the medical profession, as it has recently been reported to have a broad-spectrum inhibitory effect against bacteria.

It has been shown to be bactericidal against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

A small number of clinical case studies have shown that application of honey to severely infected cutaneous wounds is capable of clearing infection from the wound and improving tissue healing.

The physicochemical properties (Example: osmotic effects and pH) of honey also aid in its antibacterial actions.

Research has also indicated that honey may possess antiinflammatory activity and stimulate immune responses within a wound.

2)  Honey possess antibacterial activity against Helicobacter Pylori.

The advantage which honey has over other substances suggested is that honey has a pH of 3.9  and its dilution by gastric juices in the stomach will activate its glucose oxidase content.

The glucose oxidase so activated will liberate hydrogen peroxide which is both antibacterial and an activator of fibroblasts and epithelial cells needed in the healing process of the ulcer caused by H.pylori.

It was suggested that honey used in combination with triple therapy may help speed up the rate of elimination of H. pylori from cases of gastritis and duodenal ulcer patients.

3) Honey is useful in various skin lesions. 

It has been included in treatments against pityriasis, tinea, seborrhea, dandruff, diaper dermatitis, psoriasis, hemorrhoids, and anal fissure.

4) Honey-based cosmetic products include lip ointments, cleansing milks, hydrating creams, after sun, tonic lotions, shampoos, and conditioners.

It has a soothing and hair conditioning effects, keeps the skin soft and young, regulates pH and prevents pathogen infections.

5) Anti-diabetic drugs in combination with honey improved glycemic control, enhanced antioxidant defenses and reduced oxidative damage.

These effects are believed to be mediated partly via antioxidant effect of honey.

Diabetes mellitus is known to increase the risk of developing hypertension.

Animal research has shown effectiveness of honey to enhance antioxidant defenses and protect kidney and pancreas against oxidative damage in diabetic, diabetic-hypertensive and hypertensive rats.

In future honey might be a valuable agent (both as a potential anti-diabetic and antioxidant agent) in the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

6) Recently, there are many studies focusing on the use of natural products for cancer prevention and treatment.

Of these natural products, honey has been extensively researched.

The mechanism of the anti-cancer activity of honey as chemopreventive and therapeutic agent has not been completely understood.

The possible mechanisms are due to its apoptotic, antiproliferative, antitumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, estrogenic and immunomodulatory activities.

7) Cough causes concern for parents and is a major cause of outpatient visits.

It can impact on quality of life, cause anxiety and affect sleep in parents and children.

Several remedies, including honey, have been used to alleviate cough symptoms.


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Dr  Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)







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