✦ And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, what is sweeter than honey? - Judges 14:18
We are all more than familiar with the health properties of honey and that it has been used as both a food and a medicine since ancient times. However, many people are unaware of exactly how fond people were of the golden nectar way back in Biblical times and that it is even mentioned frequently in the Bible itself.
That’s right, the holy scriptures have over 65 references to bees and honey across books such as Genesis, Exodus, Job, Ezekiel and Matthew, amongst others.
Interestingly, honey bees are always used in the context of good, abundance and blessing. There are frequent references to “a land flowing with milk and honey”, and it is sometimes referred to as a precious gift. As such, it would be fair to say that honey is indeed heaven sent - a God sent even!
Back to the present day and honey is now used as a natural health supplement in a variety of ways.
High-quality honey contains many important antioxidants, including organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids. The phytonutrients in honey are responsible for its antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and anti-fungal power. They’re also thought to be the reason raw honey has shown immune-boosting and anticancer benefits.
Within moderation, honey is a great natural substitute for refined sugar and can help lower blood pressure in those that suffer from the condition. It is also believed to help improve your cholesterol levels and be used to treat niggly coughs as a natural alternative to contemporary medicines and to ensure a good night’s sleep. Some scientific studies suggest honey can help people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Native to Australia and New Zealand, Manuka honey is made by bees that pollinate the native leptospermum scoparium bush. The word mānuka is the Māori name of the tree and the honey produced is considered a high grade product with its potent antibacterial properties that set it apart from traditional honey.
Manuka honey can be used to treat wounds (see more below) and enhance oral heath by attacking harmful bacteria associated with plaque formation, gum inflammation and tooth decay. Research suggests that Manuka honey may help treat gastric ulcers, improve digestive symptoms and help soothe sore throats. It can also help people who suffer with cystic fibrosis and be used to treat acne by keeping skin free of bacteria, which could expedite the acne healing process.
Royal jelly is a creamy white substance with a high nutrient content that young bees make to feed queen bee larvae and their young – it is often referred to as a nutritional powerhouse. There are claims that it offers a range of health benefits, such as easing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and supporting wound healing.
Royal jelly is highly nutritious and may have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may be responsible for many of the health claims about royal jelly. People usually consume it orally or apply it directly to the skin.
Indeed, using honey to treat skin wounds or burns is an age-old process due to a unique pH balance that promotes oxygen and healing compounds to a wound. According to a literature review published in the journal Wounds, the acidic pH of honey encourages the blood to release oxygen, which is important to wound healing. Additionally, the natural sugar present in honey has the effect of drawing water out of damaged tissues (known as an osmotic effect) which reduces swelling and encourages the flow of lymph to heal the wound. Honey has also been shown to have an antibacterial effect on bacteria commonly present in wounds.
However, before considering using honey to treat wounds or burns it is highly recommended to consult a professional doctor first.
Secrets of the Queen Bee
One company that specialises in leveraging the health properties of honey to create balms and skin healing products is Brisbane-based, family-run QueenBEE Secrets.
After suffering a serious illness in 1992, QueenBEE Secrets founder Diane Elliott embarked on a path of discovery in the field of Aromatherapy. It was 10 years later when she acquired a lavender farm that she truly began to understand the healing properties hidden in the farm’s beehives and before too long she was developing a range of skincare balms that she initially produced for herself, her family and a few customers.
The business has grown organically since then and today produces 14 different balms with plans to add more as customer demand grows. All products are handcrafted in Australia using 100% natural ingredients such as royal jelly, Manuka honey and beeswax and can be used for a variety of treatments such as dry and irritated skin, anti-ageing, arthritis, bug bites, and muscle and joint relief.