by Amy Goodrich

Honey, referred to by some as “Mother Earth’s Liquid Gold,” has been around for centuries. It has been part of many traditional medicines, including Ayurvedic treatments. And in ancient Greece, Hippocrates used it in nearly all his medicinal formulations. Raw honey owes its remarkable benefits to a special cocktail of natural sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids.

Honey vs raw honey

Not all honey is created equal though. Regular, or most commercially available honey goes through several processing steps, ripping from it its most precious nutrients: bee pollen and bee propolis (or bee glue).

Decades ago, the Chinese noticed that the demand for honey had skyrocketed, and as with many things, started to mass produce honey to get the most money out of it. They started to ultra-filtrate honey to make it clear and more appealing, and easier to handle for the demanding market. However, this resulted in most of its nutrients being filtered out, and what’s left is a sugary sweet liquid with almost no health benefits at all.

Raw honey is alkaline-forming and still contains all its beneficial natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants and other important natural nutrients – all of which are destroyed during pasteurisation and filtration. Raw honey is collected straight from the extractor and is unheated, unpasteurised and unprocessed.

How raw honey can improve your health

Antioxidant powerhouse

Antioxidants are very important in the fight against free radicals – harmful and highly reactive molecules that cause cell damage, and are associated with premature aging and the development of many diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis-related conditions, atherosclerosis and cancer.

Anti-microbial action

Honey has been used for years as a topical treatment for minor scrapes, cuts and burns. Data suggests that it may help prevent infection due to its natural hydrogen peroxide properties, and that it speeds up the wound healing process.

Improve digestion

Raw honey is great for digestion as it doesn’t ferment in the stomach and has been shown to improve many digestive issues including stomach cramps, indigestion, nausea and constipation.

Excellent pre-biotic

Packed with natural pre-biotics, raw honey stimulates the growth of friendly gut bacteria to keep the intestines clean and healthy.

Prevents dental cavities

Unlike any other sweetener on the market, raw honey is actually good for our teeth – if used in moderation of course. Researchers have found that bee propolis – the glue that holds everything together – is very effective in the treatment of periodontitis and gingivitis, and limits the formation of bacterial plaque while reducing tooth caries. In fact, ancient Greeks and Romans used propolis as a mouth disinfectant.

Soothe sore throat and cough

Honey has long been used as a remedy to soothe sore throats and ease coughing. A 2007 Penn State study found it to be as effective as dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant.

Control sugar spikes

Unlike any other sweetener, honey has a lower glycaemic load and helps control blood sugar spikes and insulin levels. However, moderation is key, since one tablespoon contains about 63 calories.

Good for the heart too

Honey has been shown to have positive effects on reducing cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary artery disease. It scrapes fat and cholesterol from our body’s tissues.

Radiant and healthy skin

Use honey topically to treat mild eczema, acne and dry skin. It can also be used as an exfoliator, and keeps your skin hydrated, elastic and rejuvenated.

This is only scraping the surface of what raw honey can do for you. And again, when buying honey make sure to opt for the real thing. Avoid the clear, processed stuff they sell in most grocery stores; this is fake honey, stripped of all its nutrients.