When we think of honey, our minds automatically go to that little plastic bear filled with a thick, brown syrup-like substance. But what if I told you that stuff is not even really honey? What if I told you that the honey we grew up eating and learning about is vastly different from the real, pure, raw honey that our ancestors most likely used in their healing teas and tinctures?
Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurized or processed in any way. There’s a huge difference between raw and pasteurized honey. Raw honey contains the vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and other natural nutrients that make it such a wonderfully healing food. Pasteurized honey, on the other hand, has been stripped of these beneficial properties through the process of heating, making it just as unhealthy as refined sugar. While pasteurized honey looks clear and syrupy, raw honey is more solid and opaque, and often contains small pieces of beeswax and pollen.
We refer to raw honey as “liquid gold” in our home because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. It also strengthens the immune system and is a great topical remedy for skin wounds and infections.
Raw honey has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s so versatile and we use it in so many different applications around the home!
Here are my 10 favorite ways to use raw honey around our home:
- Soothe sore throats and coughs: Honey’s antibiotic and antiviral properties make it great for treating sore throats and coughs. It coats the throat and helps reduce irritation. Add a spoonful into a warm cup of lemon tea, or just eat it right off the spoon!
- Treat cuts, burns and scrapes: Smooth a thick layer of honey over minor cuts and burns, and it acts as an antibiotic ointment to help kill any bacteria, reduce inflammation, and protect the exposed skin from dirt and debris.
- Spread it on your toast: Because it’s thicker than regular, pasteurized honey, I love spreading it on a piece of toast, with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon in the morning. It’s a great energy boost to start off your day on the right foot!
- Replace the processed sugar: Instead of granulated sugar, use raw honey to sweeten things like yogurt, smoothies, and almond milk, or stir a spoonful into your morning cup of coffee or tea. If replacing the sugar called for in a baked recipe, it’s better to use just regular, pasteurized (organic, if possible) honey, since it will be heated during baking anyways.
- Wash your face: Raw honey, softened between your palms, and massaged all over your face, first thing in the morning, on a dry face – try it and you’ll love your sparkling, soft skin. It can even help with acne – just apply a small amount to blemishes every night, and you should notice results within a week.
- Treat allergies: Raw, local honey taken a couple times a day, starting a few month before allergy season has been found to relieve seasonal allergies. It must be local honey, however, since it will contain tiny amounts of pollen from local plants, which will act as a sort of vaccine against the allergens found in that plant.
- Improve your sleep: Add some honey to a warm glass of milk or tea (or on it’s own!) right before bedtime for a better night’s rest. Honey helps your body release melatonin into the brain, which promotes a deeper, more restorative sleep.
- Support good bacteria: Honey contains probiotics that help support the growth and activity of good bacteria in our gut, making it very efficient for digestion. Since it doesn’t ferment in the stomach, it’s easily absorbed and be used to treat indigestion.
- Relieve constipation: Make a warm tea by mixing a spoonful of raw honey and a couple spoons of raw apple cider vinegar into warm water, to help naturally relieve constipation.
- Make an exfoliating sugar scrub: Mix some raw honey with a bit of sugar, and your favorite moisturizing oil, and massage the mixture all over your body, in the shower, for a gentle, exfoliating, all-natural body scrub.
A word of caution: Since honey contains natural botulism spores, make sure not to give honey to children under the age of 1 year, as their intestinal tract is not mature enough to inhibit the growth of botulism.
About the Author:
Sarah is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mother. She is the author of Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade – in which she documents the changes she’s making to slowly convert her home into a more natural, sustainable, toxic-free environment for her family. Nature’s Nurture also serves as a resource for others looking for simple ways to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can follow along at her blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.