Emma Cullen celebrates the great things honey is capable of – besides tasting scrumptious, of course…
‘Eating honey was a very good thing to do’ said Pooh – and how right he was! The cuddly character from AA Milne’s popular children’s books is best remembered for his penchant for honey, and it seems our fluff-filled friend was onto something. Honey has long been a staple foodstuff, but there are more reasons than its super-sweet taste to explain why we love this golden nectar so much – and why we need to protect our local bees so we can continue to enjoy it for years to come.
It is widely known that honey is a healthier choice than refined sugar if you’re in need of a boost, but did you know that it also contains an abundance of natural antioxidants (a super-food buzzword) and that its unique composition means this complex natural product has been benefiting humans in various ways for generations?
We’ve rounded up some great tips for using honey to help you feel bee-autiful. All the directions listed below are best followed with local honey; by supporting your local independent beekeepers, you’ll be helping to maintain our precious bee population.
Honey has been proven to help the liver’s breakdown of alcohol, so if you’ve had a heavy night, pop a spoonful of honey into some hot water and you won’t feel so bad.
This calls for raw honey that has not been subjected to a pasteurisation process. Honey can help this ailment both inside and out – consuming one teaspoon of raw honey three times a day can help to keep the collagen in your joints healthy, and rubbing honey over the joints can ease the pain more directly from the outside.
When applied to the skin, honey can a draw out bacteria from bad acne spots. Apply manuka honey – which is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory – to the spot and let it work its magic. It will also calm down that red ‘glow’ that you get with a spot, so it’s an all-rounder – and you don’t have to treat your fragile skin with redness-inducing chemicals.
That’s right – honey has even been known to help ease the side effects of cancer treatment. New Zealand manuka honey in particular can be used to treat ulcerations and wounds relating to radiotherapy. In fact, this kind of manuka could be used to help the healing process of any kind of infected wound.
Hair, skin and nails
The natural oils and nutrients found in honey can prevent nails from drying out and keep cuticles healthy. Mix equal parts of honey and olive oil (you can even add some essential oil if you like) and then massage into cuticles. Leave it on for 20 minutes and rinse.
Honey is antibacterial and soothing for the skin, so you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better ingredient to wash yourself with. Try mixing one tablespoon of honey with one of oil and two of coarse sea salt to make an exfoliating scrub. You’ll smell delicious afterwards, too.
As well as being a great conditioner for your nails, honey can work miracles on your hair. As someone who has previously ruined my silky locks by bleaching them intensively to breaking point, believe me – this really works.
If you want a completely natural recipe, mix your honey gently into warm oil so it dissolves and then let it cool before applying the mixture to your hair. Wrap your hair in cling film or a towel and leave it for 20 minutes before rinsing out. Alternatively, you can add honey to your normal conditioner for added moisturising benefits. Honey is easily washed out as long as it’s mixed with something else – straight honey on your hair will result in a sticky, gloopy mess.
This is the most fuss-free face wash ever. It’s just honey – pure and simple. Simply dampen your face as you would normally before washing, smear on some honey and leave it on for a couple of minutes* then rinse off. Many have claimed this simple ingredient has cleared up terrible acne, and honey has nutrients in it which help to destroy free-radicals, the major contributors to aging skin.
* Make this into a great mask by adding 5cm of peeled puréed cucumber to the mix. Leave the mixture on your face for five minutes then rinse with cold water. You’ll look good enough to eat.
You can find out more about protecting our bees by visiting the Soil Association website and joining their Keep Britain Buzzing campaign.
Do you have a honey-based remedy you swear by?