Though honey is a common natural sweetener used for generations, scientific evidence suggests that honey has and could be used for many unconventional purposes, in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth.
The latest research indicates that humans’ use of honey can be traced back more than 10,000 years. A standard sweet of many ancient cultures, honey has also been used for various health reasons: The Romans, for example, applied it on open wounds, burns and rashes to expedite the healing process, among other medical applications.
A study published last year from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam examined defensin-1 — a naturally occurring protein found in honey — and noted its infection-fighting characteristics. These findings explain its success many years after its use as an antibacterial ointment in ancient times.
“Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” researcher Sebastian Zaat said in a press release.
In another study published in the Journal of Andrology, led by an Iranian team of scientists, the health advantages of honey were investigated. Two groups of physically active and otherwise healthy subjects were compared in an experiment in which half of the participants consumed honey while the other half consumed an artificial sweetener. At the end of eight weeks, the honey-only group exhibited higher levels of antioxidant activity than the other group.
The list of ailments honey may help remedy continues to grow. Research has uncovered just some of honey’s numerous beneficial effects ranging from controlling blood sugar levels, acting as a cough suppressant, boosting immunity and improving athletic performance.
Although it tends to crystallize after being stored for long periods of time, honey is one of the only natural foods that seems to never truly expire. Try submerging the container in hot water for 15 minutes rather than microwaving it to maintain its flavor.
So maybe you’re not a Roman gladiator competing in the Colosseum, but a few rough nights in I.V. punctuated by a nasty bike collision definitely merit some of this liquid gold.