6 surprising health benefits of honey

6 surprising health benefits of honey

Thick, gooey and golden in colour, raw honey has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. The sweet liquid, which is produced by bees using the nectar of plants, has been touted as a potent healing agent in cultures around the world. In ancient India, it was even believed honey could ward off evil spirits and ensure a happy romantic life.

Since it tastes delicious, is a good alternative to sugar and can pretty much be added to everything, there’s really no excuse for it to be missing from your shopping list.

But if you really need further convincing, here are just a few medical benefits of honey that may just surprise you…

1. It’s great for the skin

If you’re suffering from a nasty flare-up, honey is a brilliantly effective skin saviour that won’t cost the earth. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can calm and soothe irritated skin, as well as being loaded with enzymes and other nutrients that nourish and cleanse the surface –  some beauty bloggers even claim it’s cleared up their acne. If it’s a natural summer glow you’re looking for, get slathering – honey is a natural humectant, meaning it hydrates the skin by drawing in moisture from the air. Try mixing two tablespoons of raw or Manuka honey with one tablespoon of uncooked porridge oats for a DIY exfoliating mask.

2. It’s good for the heart

As well as being a super tasty topping to your morning bowl of porridge, honey is jam-packed with polyphenols; helpful antioxidants that have been linked to increased blood flow and preventing blood clots from forming. One study in rats even showed honey can protect the heart from oxidative stress, which can contribute to heart attacks and stroke, although more research needs to be done on the link between long-term human heart health and honey.

You’re never too young to start thinking about heart health (Thinkstock/PA)
You’re never too young to start thinking about heart health (Thinkstock/PA)

3. It gives you an energy boost

Looking for a pre-workout snack that will fuel you through a sweaty HIIT session? Try adding a dollop of honey to your protein balls. As a carbohydrate made up of fructose and glucose, the sticky stuff makes for a high-powered, natural energy snack. Unlike refined sugar, it also contains small amounts of proteins and minerals such as B6, riboflavin and amino acids; compounds that help the body metabolise bad cholesterol and fatty acids.

While whizzing a spoonful into your smoothie won’t do any long-term harm, it’s important to remember to eat honey in moderation.  “It’s a source of energy, but it’s still sugar, so it should be eaten more as an indulgent treat rather than a substitute for more nutritionally-rich foods such as fruit and veg,” says nutritionist Liz Tucker.

4. It can heal wounds and burns

When applied topically, researchers believe honey can have a healing effect on painful burns and lesions. Applying honey to wounds has been a technique that’s been around since ancient Egypt, and modern studies have found it can be effective. One study published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal found a 43.4% success rate of using honey on diabetic foot ulcers, while another published in The Scientific World Journal found honey could also be an effective home remedy for reducing painful haemorrhoids.

Honey can help to heal burns and bruises (Thinkstock/PA)
Honey can help to heal burns and bruises (Thinkstock/PA)

5. It can treat dandruff

Suffering from a dry, itchy or flaky scalp? A 2001 study conducted by the Dubai Specialised Medical Center discovered that raw honey can be used to treat scaling, itching and hair loss. This is thought to be thanks to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Fancy giving it a go? Mix two tablespoons of vegetable oil with equal amounts of honey and apply it to your hair for a DIY hair mask. Leave it to sink in for 15 minutes, and then rinse it off before you shampoo.

Dandruff is caused by poor hygiene. This is (Kind of) True. Not washing the scalp regularly or relying too heavily on dry shampoo can affect scalp health. But these factors are more likely to cause dandruff:Using low-quality shampoo Applying low-quality conditioner directly to the scalp instead of only to the hair. # Weather can affect dandruff. This is True. Just as our skin is affected by colder weather, the winter months (when the air is drier), can dry out our scalps, too. Diet can affect dandruff. This is Also True. Nutrition plays an important role in scalp health, just as it does with the rest of our body, says Christopher. Have a client with a dry, flaky scalp? Diane suggests advising them to: Drink plenty of water Avoid salty, fried foods and coffee Eat foods rich in Vitamins A, B and C hairagain #hairloss #hairlosssolution #dandruff #dandrufftreatment #iridium

A post shared by Hair Again Texas (@hairagaintx) on

6.It can help suppress a cough

When flu season strikes, we all know there’s nothing worse than being kept awake at night by a dry, tickly cough that simply won’t go away.  Next time you’re a victim of this infuriating health woe, try easing the aggravation with a spoonful of soothing honey. A 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics found children with upper respiratory tract infections experienced more cough relief after drinking 1.5 tablespoons of labiatae (it’s an aromatic) honey 30 minutes before bedtime, than those that received a placebo. If nothing else, it’ll be a delicious pre-slumber treat that’ll satiate your sweet tooth.

More in this Section

America’s top space-age attractions to celebrate 50 years since the moon landingAmerica’s top space-age attractions to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing

Garbage's return to Dublin well worth the waitGarbage's return to Dublin well worth the wait

Trend of the Week: Circling back to fashion's hottest retro printTrend of the Week: Circling back to fashion's hottest retro print

Are you ready to join the tiny-house movement?Are you ready to join the tiny-house movement?

Latest Showbiz

Families have ‘an open line of communication’ to the production team.Families of Love Island contestants offered access to counselling

Nine NHS doctors attended to the soap star as she gave birth to her daughter Mia.Gemma Atkinson says difficult labour was ‘totally worth it’

The pair will lock lips prompting cheers from the other islanders.Love Island’s Chris Taylor and Harley Brash kiss for the first time

The TV personality auditioned for a part in Die Another Day.Amanda Holden beaten to Bond girl role by Rosamund Pike

More From The Irish Examiner