Health Benefits Of Honey

What is Honey?

Honey is a sweet, liquid substance with high nutritional properties and therapeutic value. It is produced by bees from the nectars of numerous flowers or from the exudates of insects (aphids).

Health Benefits Of Honey

Naturally derived honey is composed of more that 300 compounds, mostly carbohydrates (fructose and glucose) and fructo-oligosaccharides. It contains phytochemicals, flavonoids, catalase, phenolic acid, inhibine, tocopherols and various peptides. (1)

Honey has predominant antiinflammatory,antioxidant and immune enhancing effects.

Biochemical Structure

Honey is composed of numerous organic acids such as gluconic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, citric acid, malic acid, formic acid, succinic acid, lactic acid and pyroglutamic acid. There are as well inorganic acids such as phosphoric and hydrochloric acid.

The most important phenols in honey are flavonols, flavones, flavonones, benzoic and cinnamic acid. Phenolic acids are ellagic, caffeic, p-coumaric and ferulic acids.

Biochemical Structure

In honey there are two kinds of sugar such as dextrose and levulose.

The monosaccharides present in honey are glucose and fructose that form more complex di and trisaccharides in honey.

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is composed of 0.1 -0.6% proteins. Most of them are enzymes and amino acids.

The most valuable enzyme in honey is invertase (saccharase, sucrase). Its function is to convert the sucrose into dextrose and levulose. Amylase (diastase) is also found in honey, as well as catalase and phosphatase.

The most important antioxidants in honey are phenols, kaempeferol, galangin, apigenin, quercetin, hesperetin, chyrsin and the Mallard products – melanoidins. ,

Of vitamins, the distribution is as follows: B1 (0.004-0.006 mg), B2 (0.002-0.06 mg), niacin (0.11-0.36 mg), pyridoxine (0.008-0.32 mg), pantothenic acid (0.02-0.11 mg), ascorbic acid (2.2-2.4 micrograms).

Honey is rich in minerals, such as calcium (4-30 mg), chloride (2-20mg), copper (0.01-0.1 mg), iron (1-3.4 mg), magnesium (0.7-13 mg), phosphor (2-60 mg), potassium (1’-470 mg), sodium (0.6-40 mg), zinc (0.2-0.5 mg).

Honey has numerous health effects due to its powerful compounds. The most prominent are the ones involved in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascualr disorders, inflammatory processes, neurological degeneration, wound healing, infectious diseases and aging.

Phenolic compounds in honey are responsible for anticarcinogenic, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antiatherogenic, antithrombotic, immune and analgesic effects.

Cardiovascular Effect

Honey consumption has been linked to lower risk for certain cardiovascular disorders. It is able to reduce the levels of glucose and cholesterol. (2)

High level of phenolic substances is associated with lower cardiovascular risk, especially in coronary arterial disease. Thus, flavonoids stimulate coronary vasodilatation, decrease thrombotic events and prevent LDL oxidation.

Anticancer Effect

Quercetin is a phenol that inhibits cellular transcription factors and contributes to apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cells. It is able to decrease the protein expression in human fibrosarcoma cells.

Antibacterial & Antifungal Effects

Honey is a potent antimicrobial nutritient. Its alcohol (methanol,ethanol and ethyl acetate) extracts inhibit various bacterial microbes such as aerobes, anaerobes,Gram positive and negative species. It is efficaceous against yeast and fungi.

Antibacterial & Antifungal Effects

It is active against Staphylococcus aures, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa etc. (3)

Honey is of benefit in certain viral infections. It has been shown that is helpful as local agent in herpetic lesions. It shows an inhibitory effect on rubella virus activity.

Physical Strength

Honey is of benefit in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time and has been known to enhance athletic performance.

Upper Respiratory Infections

It has been shown that honey helps with irritative coughs.

Ulcer Disease

Recent studies show that honey may help in certain gastroenterological disorders. It is of benefit in ulcers, bacterial gastroenteritis and gastritis.

ulcus disease

If there are abdominal colics, the oral ingestion of honey and water is recommended .

Diabetes

In individuals with type 1 and 2 diabetes, honey consumption is linked to a lower glycemic index. It reduces blood lipids, homocysteine levels and C-reactive proteins.

diabeties

Honey consumption may induce insulin production, lower glucose levels, elevated hemoglobin concentration and better lipid values.

Vision

Honey is applicable in vision impairments such as blepharitis, keratitis, conjuctivits and eye burns.

Skin Protection

Honey is a natural moisturizer that helps in exfoliation and skin dryness. It may be applied locally to affected skin areas and promote its longevity and delay aging process.

 

Honey is also effective in the treatment of eczema and dandruff.

Wound Healing

Honey can be used as a natural cure in first aid wound treatment, burns and cuts due to its antibacterial properties prevent infection and function as an antiinflammatory agent.

It may be applied topically on wounds, burns and ulcers and enhance healing process, tissue growth and regeneration. (4)

Digestive System

It has been noted that honey has prebiotic effects. Honey increases the number of bacterial flora (bifidobacteria) needed for maintenance of digestive tract.

Honey has shown similar effects to corticosteroids in patient with colitis. (5)

Allergic Reactions

Due to its potent anti inflammatory attributes, honey is able to reduce allergic reactions.

Antioxidant

Honey is able to reduce the amount of free radical substances in human organism due to high amount of antioxidants such as glucose oxidase, catalase, vitamin C, carotenoids, quercetins.

Quercetin is a phenol that inhibits cellular transcription factors and contributes to apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cells. It is able to decrease the protein expression in human fibrosarcoma cells.

Antiinflammatory

Recent studies have shown that honey may reduce the function of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2. It may even modulate the activity of prostaglandins (PGE2, PGE2 alpha) and thromboxane B2.

 

Honey compounds may inhibit certain inflammatory parameters involved in angiogenesis (TNF-α a and PGE2).

Honey is applied in edematous lesions, necrosis, severe wounds, It enhances epithelialization and decreases the level of glycosaminoglycan and proteoglycan. Overall, it highly supports tissue regeneration.

Immune System

Honey is full of polyphenols, antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage.

Sports Nutrition

Honey is a product that aids physical exercises due to high amount of carbohydrates. It is mostly present in post-exercise supplements.

Insect Bites

Honey’s anti inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.

Sleep Aid

Honey is rich in amino acids that enhance the production of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is being converted to serotonin and eventually melatonin that induces sleep.

Candidiasis

The intravaginal candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, may be inhibited by honey distillates.

Possible Side Effects

  • Local honey application may lead to superficial skin layers sensations.
  • Allergic reaction to honey are quite rare.
  • Dehydration of treated tissues may arise.
  • Wound botulism is major concern in the honey treatment if there are Clostridium spores present.

References

  1. Tahereh Eteraf-OskoueiTraditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2013 Jun; 16(6): 731–742
  2. Yaghoobi N. Natural honey and cardiovascular risk factors; effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, triacylglycerole, CRP, and body weight compared with sucrose.ScientificWorldJournal. 2008 Apr 20;8:463-9.
  3. Al-Waili NS. Honey and microbial infections: a review supporting the use of honey for microbial control.Med Food. 2011 Oct;14(10):1079-96.
  4. Subrahmanyam M.Topical application of honey in treatment of burns.Br J Surg. 1991 Apr;78(4):497-8.
  5. Bilsel Y. Could honey have a place in colitis therapy? Effects of honey, prednisolone, and disulfiram on inflammation, nitric oxide, and free radical formation.Dig Surg. 2002;19(4):306-11