Instead of sweetening your tea, coffee or oatmeal with processed, white table sugar, try honey! Not only is honey a common pantry staple, but it also provides us with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Honey also has healing properties. Honey, as well as other bee products, has been used for centuries to help fight allergies, boost the immune system, increase energy levels and heal wounds.
Honey, the most common bee product, is produced by mixing flower nectar with bee enzymes. Honey will vary in color and taste depending on the origin of the nectar. Honey contains B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, some minerals and large amounts of carbohydrates. Honey is primarily used as a sweetener for food and beverages. Honey is twice as sweet as regular white table sugar, so not as much is needed for sweetening purposes. According to The Prescription for Nutritional Healing, honey is also used for energy support and is a natural antiseptic making it a good salve for burns and wounds. Honey has also been shown to be effective at relieving the coughing symptom from an upper respiratory tract infection.
Other bee products are bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly. Bee pollen is a yellow, granule-like material that is produced by the anthers of flowering plants and gathered by the bees. Bee pollen is composed of 10-15% protein and also contains B vitamins, vitamin C, essential fatty acids, enzymes, carotene, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and plant sterols. According to The Prescription for Nutritional Healing, bee pollen has an antimicrobial effect and has been used to combat fatigue, depression, seasonal allergies and for immune support. Propolis is a resinous substance collected from various plants and is used in the construction of hives. Medicinally, propolis has been used as a salve for abrasions and because of its antibacterial effect. Royal jelly is produced after honey and pollen are combined and refined within the young nurse bee. Royal jelly contains high amounts of vitamins B5, B6 and is the only natural source of acetylcholine.
Whether you are using honey for medicinal purposes or simply for sweetening purposes, the source matters! Buying local, raw or certified organic honey increases the likelihood that you will receive the nutritional benefits honey has to offer. Buying certified organic honey will ensure that the hive was not treated with chemicals. Purchasing local honey means you can call the beekeeper directly and ask them about the conditions the honey is produced in and how the bees are kept. Raw honey has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a high heat process that can destroy naturally occurring nutrients. Raw honey is solid at room temperature is a much lighter in color than pasteurized honey. Most mainstream brands of honey that are commercially produced do not fall into any of those categories.
Supporting bee keepers that care about the quality and sustainability of their honey also decreases the threat of Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the documentary, “Queen of the Sun,” in the fall of 2006, an unnerving phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder was brought to the public’s attention. Honeybees were mysteriously disappearing from beehives all around the nation. Dave Hackenburg, beekeeper, and the first to raise a stir about the crisis, reported that bees were simply vanishing from his hives. That fall, beekeepers and commercial beekeeping enterprises around the country reported losses of 30% with some beekeepers reporting losses up to 90% of all of their colonies.
Locally produced honey can be purchased at The Mustard Seed Natural and Organic Food Store located at 969 Arsenal Street in Watertown. The Mustard Seed is the North Country’s #1 source for natural and organic food. The Mustard Seed also sells a large selection of Y.S Bee products. Y.S Bee is a credible bee product company that has been in business since 1985. Y.S Bee produces both raw and certified organic honey as well as bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly.
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Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
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