Honey, one of nature's most natural and intense sweeteners, has been used for centuries as a home remedy for various ailments. In more recent years, science has confirmed what folk medicine has pretty much already proven: Honey heals.

The color of honey, which ranges from pale amber to deep, dark brown, depends on the source of nectar. Although there are exceptions, most light colored honeys, such as alfalfa, orange blossom and clover, have a mild flavor while dark honeys, such as those made from buckwheat or avocado blossoms, have bolder, more distinct flavors. The darker the honey, experts say, the higher its concentration of healing substances. Here are some of the ways honey contributes to good health:

Source of Antioxidants: Normal oxidation in the body can injure cells, which contributes to aging and development of various disease such as cancer and heart disease. Honey has high levels of antioxidants and researchers at the University of California in Davis found that people who added four tablespoons of honey to their diet every day for a month increased the antioxidant levels in their blood.

Burn Remedy: When used to treat wounds, honey absorbs moisture from the air and uses it to help keep the skin hydrated so it can heal properly. Studies that have been performed to determine whether or not honey actually promotes healing have had mixed results but experts seem to agree that a minor burn dressed with honey and guaze will feel better and heal sooner than a similar wound dressed with antibiotic creams and ointments

Antimicrobial (antibacterial): Honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, which gives it antibacterial qualities for treating minor cuts, abrasions and even mild forms of acne.  Some types of honey, including Manuka honey from the New Zealand Manuka bush, claim to have the highest antimicrobial activity of all.

Cough Suppressant: A study performed at Penn State University confirmed what advocates of folk medicine have been reporting for centuries: A spoonful of honey will relieve a bothersome cough better than the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough suppressants. The researchers found that children with upper respiratory infections who took buckwheat honey before going to bed had fewer and less severe coughing bouts throughout the night and got better quality sleep.  And so did their parents!

Energy Source: Honey is easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, which means it's a great source of quick energy.  But the good news is: it's not quite as high on the glycemic index as table sugar, which means it's less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar.



UC Davis



NYU Langone Medical Center: Honey



Penn State University



HoneyO/Healing Properties of Honey



National Honey Board's State-by-State Honey Locator