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Honey: Potential Benefits and Risks – Tufts

Humans have been using honey as a sweetener for over 5,000 years. Throughout history, many cultures have also used it as a natural remedy—to treat wounds, ease coughs, and more. While there are many studies looking into a variety of medicinal uses for honey, few offer any sign of efficacy in humans, and honey is not included in any authoritative evidence-based treatment guidelines. A closer look at honey and its components can help us understand why.

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Honey Basics: “To make honey, foraging honeybees collect nectar from flowers and bring it back to the hive, where it gets ‘spit out’ into a cell of the honeycomb,” says Rachael E. Bonoan, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher for Tufts University and Washington State University. “Once there is enough nectar in the wax cell, the bees dehydrate it by fanning their wings.”

Honey that comes straight from the honeycomb or is only filtered to remove debris is called “raw” honey. Most honey sold in stores is minimally processed for safety and quality purposes: After filtering it is pasteurized (exposed to high heat) to kill bacteria and yeast cells. Pasteurization also extends the time honey remains liquid before it crystalizes.

Though the exact chemical composition of honey varies depending on the location and type of flowers from which the bees gather the nectar, honey contains a diversity of nutrients, including sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and numerous polyphenols—antioxidant plant compounds. Unfortunately, honey—raw or pasteurized—does not have enough nutrients or other bioactive compounds to make a significant difference in health. “In order to get nutritionally-relevant amounts of these compounds, one would have to eat so much honey that the negative health effects from the sugars would far surpass any potential health benefits from the other nutrients,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, a professor at the Friedman School and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

Sweet Risks: Honey is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an added sugar. There is strong evidence that intake of added sugars is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, and it may increase risk for high blood pressure and stroke. The average American adult’s added sugar intake is 77 grams per day, far more than the 36 grams (nine teaspoons) for men and 25 grams (six teaspoons) for women recommended by the American Heart Association. “Cutting back on all added sugars is an important change to make for overall health,” says Lichtenstein.

Honey may contain spores that cause botulism, a serious paralytic illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves. Although adults don’t typically contract botulism from ingesting spores, infants can. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deem all honey, both raw and pasteurized, unsafe for infants under a year old.

Minimal Reward: Honey has been studied for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, and for its potential role in treatment of diseases from diabetes to cancer. Unfortunately, few of these studies involved humans, and none prove effectiveness. “As with any sweetener dissolved in water, honey may be of some benefit in soothing a cough,” says Lichtenstein. Honey has also been looked at as a topical treatment for wounds and skin conditions, but it is not recommended for that use at this time. Honey does appear to have antioxidant properties, but fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods provide antioxidants as well.

Eating local raw honey has been touted as a way to help ease seasonal allergy symptoms. There is no research to confirm that eating honey will improve allergy symptoms. In fact, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the pollen in raw honey could cause a negative reaction in people suffering from severe pollen allergies.

Although honey has more nutrients than most other sweeteners, the vast majority of claims for its healthfulness are unvalidated or overstated. Enjoy this natural sweetener in limited amounts for the pure joy of its rich, sweet taste—but do not count on it to boost your health.

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How healthy is honey? – AHA

As temperatures fall, honey’s popularity tends to rise. Whether used as an ingredient in autumn recipes and holiday desserts, added to a celebratory cocktail or given to ease a child’s cough, it certainly satisfies a sweet tooth.

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Although marketers may tout honey as a healthy alternative to regular sugar because of its antioxidant content, experts warn against adding any extra sugar to your diet, according to the American Heart Association News.

“Added sugars in the diet are definitely something that people should keep low, regardless of the source,” said Maya Vadiveloo, assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences in the College of Health Science at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. “Holistically speaking, I would not say consuming large amounts of added sugars – whether it be from honey, sugar, maple syrup or corn syrup – is a good thing.”


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Honey Better For Colds Than Drugs – Study

Honey appears to be a preferable treatment for cough or cold symptoms rather than antibiotics and over-the-counter medicines, according to a new systematic review that’s looked at the results from 14 previous studies – but the conclusions may not be quite so clear-cut as they appear at first.

“Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients,” write the researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK. “It is also cheap, easy to access and has limited harms.”

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One particular area of interest is the comparison of honey to antibiotics. With antibiotics often causing side effects and antibiotic resistance on the rise, there are multiple advantages to using honey as an alternative remedy, the authors of the review point out.

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Manuka Honey ‘sandwich’ could be the key to fighting infections

Here’s a sweet story from Newcastle University. Layering minute amounts of Manuka honey between layers of surgical mesh acts as a natural antibiotic that could prevent infection following an operation, new research has shown.

Meshes are used to help promote soft tissue healing inside the body following surgery and are common in operations such as hernia repair. However, they carry with them an increased risk of infection as the bacteria are able to get a hold inside the body by forming a biofilm on the surface of the mesh.

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Skin and soft tissue infections are the most common bacterial infections, accounting for around 10% of hospital admissions, and a significant proportion of these are secondary infections following surgery. Continue reading


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Manuka honey: Is it really a superfood? – MNT

Honey has been used to treat wounds since ancient times, as detailed in a document dating back to 1392. It was believed to help in the fight against infection, but the practice fell out of favor with the advent of antibiotics.

I have been a fan of honey for over 50 years. It was one of the first ‘health foods’ I got into in one of my earliest forays into eating well. So, I was aware of many of its healthy properties. Nonetheless, this information about Manuka honey from Medical News Today was news to me.

As we face the challenge of a growing worldwide resistance to antibiotics, scientists are examining the properties and potential of honey.


Qualities of Manuka honey

The leaves of the Manuka tree, also known as a tea tree, have been known for centuries among the indigenous tribes of New Zealand and southern Australia for their healing powers.

Bees that collect nectar from this tree make Manuka honey, which harbors some of healing properties.

All honey contains antimicrobial properties, but Manuka honey also contains non-hydrogen peroxide, which gives it an even greater antibacterial power.

Some studies have found Manuka honey can also help to boost production of the growth factors white blood cells need to fight infection and to heal tissue.

Manuka honey contains a number of natural chemicals that make it different: Continue reading

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10 Foods to Eat at Least Once a Week – Infographic

In case you didn’t know it. Here are 10 really great foods that you should include in your diet. Luckily, they happen to taste great, too. So, we aren’t talking hardship of any kind here.



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Health Benefits of Honey

The healing powers of honey are not overstated. The Waikato Honey Research Unit provides details about the world-wide research that is being carried out on the benefits of honey in medicine. Furthermore, BBC reported in July of 2006 that doctors at the Christie Hospital in Didsbury, Manchester are planning to use honey for faster recovery of cancer patients after surgery. Such research will provide scientific evidence for the so-called “beliefs” held by honey lovers all over the world and will help in propagating the benefits of honey to more people.

Our Better Health

Honey has been used by countless cultures all around the world over the past 2,500 years. While the numerous health benefits of honey have made it an important element of traditional medicines such as Ayurvedic treatments, scientists are also researching the benefits of honey in relation to modern medicine, particularly in the healing of wounds.

It is known as Honig in German, Miele in Italian, Shahad in Hindi, Miel in French and Spanish, Mel in Portuguese, мед in Russian, Honing in Dutch, and μελι in Greek; there is almost no part in the world where honey is not widely used and celebrated as a part of the cultural diet.

But what makes honey so popular? Most likely, it is the ease with which it can be consumed. One can eat honey directly, put it on bread like a jam, mix it with juice or any drink instead of sugar, or…

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Honey Is A New Approach to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

Meschwitz, who is with Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., said another advantage of honey is that unlike conventional antibiotics, it doesn’t target the essential growth processes of bacteria. The problem with this type of targeting, which is the basis of conventional antibiotics, is that it results in the bacteria building up resistance to the drugs.

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Honey, that delectable condiment for breads and fruits, could be one sweet solution to the serious, ever-growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, researchers said here today.

Medical professionals sometimes use honey successfully as a topical dressing, but it could play a larger role in fighting infections, the researchers predicted. Their study was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features more than 10,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels through Thursday.

“The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance,” said study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D. That is, it uses a combination of weapons, including hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high…

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