Why is Honey a good antibacterial and its benefits?

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Honey is a wonderful and sweet golden liquid produced by honey bees and consumed by humans as an alternative to sugar. Honey is also produced by a variety of bees and other insects, each with its own distinct properties. Honey is available all through the year but they are harvested during summer and autumn and can be had fresh. Apart from being a natural sweetener, Honey offers many health benefits as it contains compounds that contribute to its uses as an effective antioxidant and antimicrobial agent. 


How is Honey made?

Honey is made from nectar collected from flowers. Honey bees turn nectar into honey by the regurgitation process. In this process, the nectar gets combined with special enzymes present in the saliva of the bees. Later, the liquid is stored in the honeycombs built inside the beehive. The fluttering action of the bees’ wings provides adequate ventilation to keep the honey free from moisture and makes it fit for consumption.



What are the Different Types of Honey?

  • Raw Honey: This comb honey is collected directly from the beeswax comb found in hives. It may contain wax particles and some pollen. Raw honey is believed to be a great cure for allergies such as hay fever.
  • Liquid Honey: This extracted honey is prepared by removing the beeswax capping of the honey comb which is then whirled in a honey extractor. The centrifugal force of the extractor draws the honey from the cells of the comb.
  • Dried Honey: This honey is processed by removing moisture from liquid honey. It has non-sticky and solid granules. Anti-caking and drying agents may or may not be used to make dry honey. Dried honey is used generally to decorate desserts. 
  • Whipped Honey: This is also known as creamed honey or candied honey. It is processed to manage crystallization at the desired level. This granulated honey is made by blending nine parts of liquid honey with one part of finely granulated honey. The blended mixture achieves a firm consistency when stored at a temperature of 57 degrees.
  • Chunk Honey: This honey is got when comb honey is packed with liquid honey in a jar.



Which are the different types of flowers from which honey is made?

Honey is produced in a variety of colors such as red, amber, white, brown and black. The flavor and texture of honey is largely dependent on the nectar collected from the different types of flowers. Honey is most commonly made from flowers such as alfalfa, clover, acacia, heather, basswood, buckwheat and goldenrod and also from a variety of other flowers like lavender and thyme. Bees produce honey containing the flavor and color typically associated with the particular plant.

  • Acacia Honey has a clear color with a delicate vanilla flavor. It remains in a liquid form for long durations. It is used for sweetening drinks without altering the aroma or taste of the original drink.
  • Heather Honey is a spring honey collected from the Mediterranean forests. It has a slightly orange color with a delicate floral aroma. It tends to crystallize quickly but makes a great table honey.
  • Clover Honey is collected from the plains and coastal hills. Clover honey can be light in color or a rich amber depending on the type of clover, its source and location. It has a pleasant and mild taste with a floral flavor and is recommended for use as a table honey.
  • Orange Blossom honey is often got from a host of citrus sources that originated in Mexico and Spain. It has a citrus taste and is light in color with a fragrant fruity flavor.
  • Alfalfa Honey is produced from the purple blossoms found in United States and Canada. It is light in color with a pleasant aroma and flavor.
  • Buckwheat honey is produced in New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Eastern Canada. It is a full-bodied and dark colored honey containing large quantities of antioxidant compounds. 


What are the conventional uses of Honey as Antibacterial Agent?

Raw Honey contains several types of resins found in propolis. Propolis is popularly known as "bee glue". It is a complex compound used by honeybees to seal the hive and protect it from bacteria and other micro-organisms. Other constituents of honey include methyl caffeate, caffeic acid, phenylethyl dimethyl caffeate and phenylethyl caffeate which contribute to its anti-tumor and cancer-preventing properties. Honey has been used since ancient times to treat infected wounds. The efficacy of honey for this purpose has been reiterated by the medical fraternity, more so in cases where modern medication has failed. Research studies have proved the benefits of honey in combating infection due to its antimicrobial properties that resist many fungi and bacteria. Besides, honey helps actively in the healing process. The antibacterial property is largely due to the osmotic effect of the high sugar content present in honey which prevents microbial growth. Honey also contains a low level of hydrogen peroxide which is hailed as an antimicrobial agent. For centuries, Honey has been used for to alleviate mild to severe symptoms associated with a common cold. It helps to combat sinus drainage, colds and flu, respiratory allergies among others. Sore throats caused by streptococci (bacterial species) are naturally treated with honey, an effective alternative to antibiotics. Ulcers are caused by H. pylori bacteria and certain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center conducted laboratory studies and stated that manuka honey (made of nectar from the New Zealand manuka bush) helps kill ulcer-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation of the stomach lining.



Does Honey lower cholesterol?

Clinical trials have proved that when healthy subjects were administered natural honey, it reduced the total cholesterol by 7%, 2% triglycerides, 7% C-reactive protein, 6% homocysteine and 6% blood sugar. Moreover it led to a 2% increase in good cholesterol or HDL. Similarly subjects with high cholesterol levels administered with Natural honey showed a 5 % decrease of total cholesterol, 11% of LDL cholesterol and 75 % of c-reactive protein( responsible for cardiovascular diseases).



What are the side-effects of Honey?

Honey contains botulinum endospores in its natural form and hence should not be given to infants as they can easily contract "botulism". Honey extracted from flowers of rhododendrons, sheep laurel, mountain laurels, azaleas and oleanders may be toxic and induce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, excessive perspiration and weakness. In most cases, honey intoxication is caused by the consumption of unprocessed, natural honey and may even lead to rare instances of convulsions, low blood pressure, irregularities in heart beat and death.



For more information on Honey, click on the links below:

Honey is unsafe for babies

Honey: An effective cough remedy

Cure Boils with Honey

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