By Dawna Matthews:
“The fruit of bees is desired by all, and is equally sweet to kings and beggars and it is not only pleasing but profitable and healthful; it sweetens their mouths, cures their wounds, and conveys remedies to inward ulcers.” – Saint Ambrose
Honey is the sweet elixir of bees using nectar from flowers. One of my favorite summer pastimes is watching the bees gather around my garden. Whenever I see them, I am so grateful for their beauty, hard work and delicious honey.
Many people know about the everyday uses of honey as a sweetener but aren’t aware of the healing power of honey. Honey has been used for ages as food and medicine. It was once revered by the Egyptians as currency and offered to the gods in wine. The Egyptians were definitely knowledgeable about the importance of this natural sweetener. Honey’s versatility ranges from antibacterial to beauty — so simple yet powerful. Honey comes in several varieties, ranging from light to dark, depending on the floral source. Raw honey is preferred due to its phytonutrients and added filtration — this helps extend its shelf life. If you start to use honey as often as I do, shelf life may not be of concern.
Here are my favorite ways to use honey:
• Hair Conditioner — This is a favorite of mine, especially during the drying winter months. Honey helps retain moisture and add luster. Combine 1/2 cup of honey to 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil. Section hair in parts and apply honey/oil mixture. I recommend applying it to the drier end sections of hair, less near the scalp. Leave on 20 minutes, shampoo and rinse.
• Moisturizer — Honey is a sweet treat for the skin. One of history’s notorious queens, Cleopatra, used honey in many of her beauty elixirs. She even bathed in milk and honey. Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture, making it a divine ingredient in moisturizers and creams. I prefer a simple honey facial mask. Combine 1 tsp. of honey with 1 tsp. of yogurt and apply to a clean, moist face. Leave on 10 minutes, rinse off with water, pat dry, and say ahhhh.
• Immunity Booster — The phytonutrients in raw honey have amazing antibacterial and antiviral properties that help boost the immune system and ward off illness. At the instant you start to feel under the weather, try making a honey tea. Combine 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in 1/2 cup of hot (not boiling) water.
• Anxiety Elixir — Traditional Ayurveda remedies suggest balancing and grounding energies by using an elixir of honey, lemon and ginger. The ginger provides calm to the digestive system, while honey acts as a blood sugar stabilizer creating balance and less stress. Mix 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. of honey, and take 3 times per day.
• Sleep Aid — One of the lesser know properties of honey is its ability to promote sleep and relaxation. The natural sugars in honey raise insulin levels and allow tryptophan compounds to enter the brain. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way — try a spoonful. I like to mix one teaspoon with a cup of chamomile tea.
• Minor wound healer — Honey is well known for its antibacterial properties. Apply a thick layer of raw honey to a scrape or cut, and it will help sterilize and aid in healing with less scabbing. Honey allows the wound to to stay moist while exposure to oxygen helps activate the antibacterial enzyme. Gently apply and cover with an adhesive bandage and you are set!
Honey truly is an amazing natural asset and elixir. Besides using it for food, these are just a few ways we can add honey to our lives. How do you use honey? We would love to hear your ideas!
**Honey is recommended only for adults and children over the age of one due to the risk of botulism.
For more information about this natural wonder, visit: http://www.honey.com/