Liquid Gold: 8 Sweet Benefits of Honey

The benefits of honey span beyond its sweet and heavenly taste. Find out the eight ways honey can be beneficial for your health.

different types of honey

The benefits of honey span beyond its sweet and heavenly taste. Honey may come in many different varieties, but every kind is good for health. 

Let’s discover the benefits of honey below! 

Types of Honey and Their Differences 

Not all honey is created equal. There are hundreds of types of honey around the world and can be differentiated based on their geographical or botanical origins. Their colours and flavours may vary according to several factors such as their harvest time and floral sources. 

Five of the most popular honey varieties are: 

1. Raw honey 

A sweet liquid produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. One hundred percent natural, raw honey never spoils. 

2. Royal jelly 

The white, viscous jelly-like substance is secreted by worker bees to feed the hive’s queen bee and honeybee larvae.

Royal jelly encased in honeycomb
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), royal jelly helps nourish the body’s yin fluid and strengthen body functions and immunity.

3. Manuka honey 

The honey produced by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand. 

4. Propolis 

The resinous substance accumulated by bees from plants to seal holes and cracks in the beehive. Brazil produces the highest quality propolis, thanks to its proper climate and environment. 

5. Longan honey 

In Malaysia, longan honey is one of the main mono floral honeys, alongside acacia, pineapple, rubber tree and sourwood variants. It is high in antioxidants. 

8 Benefits of Honey 

Natural and nutritious, honey is known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. Benefits of various types of honey include: 

1. A source of energy  

As honey contains glucose or natural sugar, it’s able to provide energy and nourish vital organs in the body. 

2. Anti-ageing and skin-repairing 

Royal jelly is the “superfood” that makes a queen bee lives 20 times longer than a normal bee. It is known for combatting the effects of human ageing.

Evidence shows that royal jelly can improve the physical and mental state of older people. Following an experiment on rats, a study conducted by researchers from the Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences has shown that royal jelly possesses neuroprotective effects in Alzheimer’s patients.

A 2019 study published in a journal for the National Center for Biotechnology Information has stated that the mechanisms behind royal jelly’s anti-ageing properties are still unclear. Even so, most studies attribute them to two of royal jelly’s components, 10-hydroxydecanoic acid (10-HDA) and major royal jelly protein (MRJP).

Another 2019 study by researchers in Japan and Egypt on royal jelly and its components suggests that royal jelly can also encourage collagen production to enhance skin repair. Likewise, propolis can promote collagen synthesis, thanks to one of its components, fibronectin.

Common honey is also effective in regenerating skin tissue. It is said that the bacteria in wounds prefer to metabolise the glucose in honey. Try applying honey to wounds to promote a faster healing process.

An aerial view of a bowl of honey and Manuka flowers beside it.
Manuka honey is a popular varietal containing a high concentration of an antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal (MGO).

Hormone-balancing 

Hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, prolactin and estradiol are present in royal jelly. It’s no wonder royal jelly is widely used as a natural remedy for hormonal imbalances that occur in women who experience premenstrual syndrome and menopause.

Studies in male animals have found that one of the benefits of royal jelly is that it supports fertility, semen quality and output and the concentration of testosterone in men. 

Immunity boosting 

Besides preventing ageing, 10-HDA in royal jelly also helps boost the immune system due to its immunomodulatory properties. 

Additionally, propolis has been discovered to possess antiviral activities. A 2020 study by American and Brazilian researchers found that propolis has some preventive effects against COVID-19. The study stated that propolis’ components of caffeic acid phenethyl ester, galangin, chrysin and caffeic acid can interfere with the virus’ invasion of the host cell. This makes it a viable therapy to reduce COVID-19 infection. 

Anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour role 

Royal jelly has an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour role, as proven in a 2020 study published by Spandidos Publications. It demonstrated that the intake of royal jelly orally can decrease serum levels of TNF-α, the major mediator of cancer-induced inflammation.

Similarly, propolis has the same anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour benefits. Various studies including one done by a researcher at International Medical University Malaysia in 2011, have revealed that propolis may be feasible to treat breast cancer and melanoma by inducing apoptosis. Apoptosis or programmed cell destruction, which was initially considered the cause of cancer, is now deemed a treatment strategy. 

Prevents digestive issues 

Studies such as one published by Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity Journal in 2015 have revealed that honey contains high levels of prebiotics to aid the body’s digestive process.

In Manuka honey, a component called Methylglyoxal (MGO) gives it its strong antibacterial prowess. Its treatment of stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria has been known to have positive results. There is also evidence of Manuka honey taken with an empty stomach easing symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome.

Furthermore, because of its antiviral function, symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders have been reported to be successfully remedied with propolis.

Cough and sore throat medicine 

One of the benefits of honey is that it is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Manuka honey, for example, is an effective treatment if you have a sore throat. What’s more, the consumption of honey is also a trusted remedy for a persistent cough. 

A partial view of a woman’s hands inserting honey into a drinking mug.
An easy way to consume honey is to dilute it in warm water and add lemon slices to it to make honey and lemon tea.

Anti-infection  

Honey’s antimicrobial activities help improve conditions related to infections such as chronic acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Honey works by coating the oesophagus and stomach lining to manage the symptoms of GERD. 

Propolis is used to treat vaginal infections because of its antibiotic, antimycotic and anaesthetic roles. 

Is Your Honey Genuine?

To truly reap the health benefits of honey, you need to get your hands on genuine honey products. Here’s how to know if the honey you’ve purchased is real: 

  1. Drop a small amount of honey on your thumb. Pure honey will stay intact.
  2. Add one tablespoon of honey into a glass of water. If it dissolves, it’s artificial. 
  3. Real honey is flammable. Dip a match into honey and try lighting it! 
  4. When buying honey, read the label of ingredients to see whether there is glucose or corn syrup. 
  5. Genuine honey tastes like flowers or herbs, instead of being full-on sweet. 
  6. Real honey will crystallise when refrigerated for a long time. 

Sweet yet strong, the benefits of honey on your overall health can be boundless. Try it and start seeing its effects. 

This is an adaptation of an article, “Honey Varietals for Family”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website

References

  1. Research Gate. 2016. Honey Types [online]. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304011787_Honey_Types> [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2019. Royal Jelly and Its Components Promote Healthy Aging and Longevity: From Animal Models to Humans [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6802361/> [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  3. Hindawi. 2017. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits [online]. Available at: <https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2017/1259510> [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  4. Science Direct. 2020. Propolis and its potential against SARS-CoV-2 infection mechanisms and COVID-19 disease: Running title: Propolis against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 [online]. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332220308155> [Accessed 24 May 2022]
  5. Spandidos Publications. 2020. Oral intake of royal jelly improves anti‑cancer effects and suppresses adverse events of molecular targeted therapy by regulating TNF‑&alpha; and TGF‑&beta; in renal cell carcinoma: A preliminary study based on a randomized double‑blind clinical trial [online]. Available at: <https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/mco.2020.2099> [Accessed 24 May 2022]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2011. Apoptosis in cancer: from pathogenesis to treatment [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197541/> [Accessed 24 May 2022]
  7. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity Journal, 2015, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, and Antiulcer Potential of Manuka Honey against Gastric Ulcer in Rats [online]. Available at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2016/3643824/, [Accessed 14 June 2022]
  8. Chemistry Central Journal, 2013, Evaluation of physicochemical and antioxidant properties of sourwood and other Malaysian honeys: a comparison with manuka honey [online], Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3771408/ [Accessed 15 June 2022]

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