Okay, here goes. I give you my solemn word. I’m going to make up to two Winnie the Pooh references in this honey post, and no more than two. Okay. Two. And maybe a single reference to “The Archies.”
I think we are in agreement that honey is delicious. It is safe to say that most of us – even those who don’t eat it for various reasons – agree that it is mighty tasty. It’s great with oatmeal, with fresh bread and butter, on toast, and in a wide range of drinks. Many different kinds of recipes call for use of honey, and it is a household item in many kitchens all around the world
But what is it, exactly? We know it comes from bees, and that’s fairly common knowledge. But let’s dig a little deeper and see what it’s about.
What Is Honey? Where Does Honey Come From? How Is Honey Made?
Honey is essentially a food that is produced by bees and similar insects. Bees themselves are a marvel. There was a myth surrounding them, saying that physically speaking they shouldn’t be able to fly, and that the laws of aviation cannot explain it. Well, with the older laws – pertaining to birds and airplanes primarily – this has some truth to it. Bees don’t fly in the same way that birds and aircraft do, and this is probably where the myth arose.
Bees don’t break any physical laws, but they are impressive nonetheless! This gravity-defying, highly industrious, and relatively intelligent insect has been studied and observed since antiquity, and the honey it produces has been shared by bees and mankind for a long, long time.
Bees drink the floral nectar of certain flowers, and through a process of part-digestion and regurgitation honey is produced and stored in the hive’s honeycombs. Once a comb is filled, the bees seal it with beeswax, and it is ready for harvesting.
Raw Honey vs. Processed Honey Explained
There are some differences between raw and processed honey. Many proponents of raw honey claim it has more health benefits. I am not here to state the validity of the claim, but there are differences in aroma, flavor, color, and others. And while not all honey is alike, whether raw or processed, it seems that raw honey does have certain advantages. The filtering and pasteurizing process (which gives processed honey its name) is the main difference between them.
Processed honey has a uniform texture and color, and raw honey is a lot more wild in its nature. Parts of it may already be hardened by the natural process of granulation. Raw honey is left untreated, while the processed honey is heated up to very high temperatures. Honey contains nutrients which are beneficial for our health, and normally there are higher amounts of nutrients in raw honey.
Does Honey Ever Expire?
Honey may lose some – and at times many – of its properties during storage, but it cannot go bad if it is stored in sealed containers in controlled climate. Honey, whether raw or processed, is susceptible to the laws of physics, chemistry, and the environment at large.
Honey can last for many years, even centuries. But keep in mind that it may not be the same honey when you open it up. So, if you are planning to stored some grade-A honey in a time capsule designated for uncovering in the year 3000… well, the folks opening it up may be disappointed. But you should still totally do it, because time capsules are awesome.
Benefits of Honey For Skin Explained
Honey has been a cosmetic staple for thousands of years. It’s effects on the skin have been well documented. It helps the skin stay younger-looking, thanks to its antioxidants. It helps to soothe wounds and heal them, thanks to its antibiotic properties. It creates an overall glow, because it is also a moisturizer which helps the skin’s pores unclog and subsequently open up, aiding the natural process of skin regeneration.
There are honey masks for the face, honey treatments for spots and acne, honey makeup removal products and more. Honey is used in spa treatments and homemade treatments, the most famous of which is probably the honey bath, where a certain amount of honey is added to the running water of a bath. In the case of cosmetics, raw honey is definitely recommended more. It is meant to be used externally/topically, not ingested, which is why raw honey is the go-to variety in this case.
Benefits of Honey For Hair: Can Honey Help Hair?
When used in moderation, honey can definitely be used to enrich your mane, and aid hair growth and maintenance. The same ingredients which are beneficial for the skin are also great for the scalp. They nourish and protect.
The thing is, the scalp produces certain amounts of sebum. It is the body’s natural oil, and the scalp’s natural amounts may differ from the amounts secreted by the rest of the body’s skin. Because of this, it is best to experiment slowly with honey. It is good for you, but not every honey shampoo or conditioner will be beneficial. You need to base it on more than the mere existence of the substance within the product’s ingredients list.
If you choose to incorporate honey into your hair care routine, you may need to try different shampoos and products, to see how the honey affects you. Alternatively, you could make your own DIY shampoo, and add as much honey as you need.
The downside of that is, your homemade will be less consistent, and the formula will vary. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Depends on you, really. Either way, figure out how must honey is helpful, and certainly make use of it if you are so inclined. It is safe and natural, and this is especially true to raw honey.
And by the way, while we are hovering around the subject of hair and honey, let me bust a related myth: dreadlocks are not created with honey. Can they be created with it? Yes. There are all kinds of ways to make dreadlocks, but most of the dreadlocks which are artificially made (as opposed to naturally grown) are done using other substances, such as wax.
Honey For Weight Management Explained
This is probably the most controversial of benefits associated with honey. The claim that honey can be used for weight loss and management is one which is still being studied. As with any diet tips, tricks, or trends – is all depends on you.
Some are actually helped by the addition of honey to their regular diet. Taking a spoonful before bed has been shown to yield results in some individuals. I certainly wouldn’t shy away of adding it, as it is a wonderful substitute for sugar.
Essentially, it is all about moderation. Honey is pretty high up there on calorie meter, but even if you are calorie counting you can still consume some of it daily, without running the risk of gaining much weight. When it comes to weight loss in general, it’s best to err on the side of natural foods.
Honey For Throat & Cough Explained
A lovely, golden, sweet food, honey is – and it is a substance which has proven itself effective in reducing symptoms such as a cough and/or sore throat. Whether as a standalone medicinal substance, or incorporated into tea drinks and what not, honey has been shown to provide relief from pain, to ease sleep (which can often be erratic and filled with coughs), and to soothe the throat.
On some occasions, it has even outperformed over-the-counter products. It smooths the area out, and helps the body speed along the healing process.
Honey is accessible, relatively inexpensive, and unlike in older times, we don’t need to exterminate the hive to in order to get to the honey. Bee keepers do their best to spare the bees, and gather the honey without killing the little yellow insects. A standard hive produces much more honey than necessary, and we humans gets to enjoy the surplus, which is often abundant. Some colonies produce up to 200 pounds of honey per season, but most of them produce significantly less.
Would you look at that? I managed to get through the whole thing, without making even one of the references I wanted to. What the heck is wrong with me? I mention dreadlocks and not Pooh?! Okay, let’s rectify this right now.
Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes from A.A.Milne’s 1928 classic The House on Pooh Corner. It is written in the last pages, just before the book comes to a close, when Christopher Robin and Pooh are walking and talking, enjoying a sweet summer’s day…
“What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?”
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best-” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
Gets me every time.