Are you interested in HEALTH and DIET?  Then you might find one of these articles handy:

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Entering the Hospital: Some Facts to Know to Protect Yourself Part I by Dr. Richard Monroe, M.D.

Potential Medical Emergencies: Chest Pain by Dr. Richard Monroe, M.D.

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Honey Health


 Using Honey in Home Remedies, Baking, and Skin Care

by Karyn Sweet

Dogs may have a challenger when it comes to the “Man's Best Friend" Award.  Honeybees pollinate eighty percent of the fruit, vegetable, and seed crops in the United States.  In addition, they are the only insects that produce a food that humans eat.  Honey, which the bees have been producing for 150 million years, contains all of the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.  And if that (in addition to its delicious taste) wasn't enough, honey provides us with a myriad of health benefits and can be used in home remedies, baking, and beauty recipes.

The latest research has been looking at honey's use in healing skin problems.  As recently as World War I, honey mixed with cod liver oil was used to dress wounds.  There are a number of reasons why honey is so effective in wound healing.  First, honey topically numbs pain.  Secondly, honey is osmotic; it attracts water.  Since bacteria is mostly made of water, it is sucked dry in the presence of honey.  Bacteria is further inhibited by honey because honey produces hydrogen peroxide and is acidic.  Third, honey activates the immune response by providing glucose for the white blood cells.  Finally, honey speeds up the healing process.  It creates a moist environment by drawing serum up through the skin tissues that helps “moist scab” formation.  Honey also reduces inflammation, helps shed dead tissue, and stimulates the development of new blood cells.  Honey's antiseptic qualities also help prevent infections from moving to other wounds.  For these reasons, honey may be very helpful in the treatment of minor burns, open wounds, abscesses, strep infections, Cesarean incisions, gangrene, shingles, and abrasions with debris (when the abrasion is dressed with honey for 24 hours, the honey will actually draw and lift the debris).  Its antifungal properties make it useful in the topical treatment of athlete's foot and eczema.

Honey is a panacea for the digestive system and improves a poor appetite.  Honey also contains prebiotics which feed beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria (a bacteria that aids in digestion and helps prevent allergies and some tumor growth).  Because of its antimicrobial characteristics, honey destroys the H. pylori bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and inhibits the growth of E. Coli and candida.  Honey is also a gentle laxative that  isn't “habit-forming” and can be used with children over one year old.  Paradoxically, honey has also been used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.  Furthermore, honey can help in the prevention of, and recuperation from, a hangover - not strictly a digestive issue but we all need some help from time to time. 

Some other medicinal uses include: soothing a sore throat, reducing eye inflammation, healing cataracts, improving night vision, and/or soothing dry eyes by sticking  a drop on the bottom lid, typhoid fever, pneumonia, allergies, bronchitis, and sinusitis.  Honey can also be a boon to pregnant women—ginger tea with honey can help with morning sickness, warm milk with honey may alleviate heartburn and help the mother to sleep, and tea with lemon and honey can boost the immune system when the mother has a cold and wishes to avoid medications.

In addition to these specific medicinal uses, honey is nourishing to the entire body.   As mentioned above, it contains all of the necessary substances for life including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and all of the B's, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, amino acids, iodine, and zinc.  It is fat free and cholesterol free.  Honey has a lower Glycemic Index rate compared to table sugar; this is because honey supplies two stages of energy.  The glucose is absorbed immediately and gives a quick energy boost while the fructose is absorbed more slowly and provides sustained energy.  Daily consumption is said to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cholesterol.  Mix honey with apple cider vinegar and / or lemon juice to alkalinize the body (too much acid may lead to bloating, heartburn, belching, and feeling too full).

The importance of antioxidants is frequently in health news; antioxidants help prevent cellular damage thus slowing down the aging process.  They also help prevent chronic disease.  And you guessed it, honey's got 'em.  In fact, the antioxidant “pinocembrin” is only found in honey.  Generally, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants.  It's probably easier to get your family to take their honey than to eat all their leafy greens!  Honey improves memory, so you'll be able to remember all of the great benefits it provides.  And finally, if you aren't already feeling good about honey's many gifts, one or two teaspoons in warm milk is a nice sedative.

To use medicinally, be sure to purchase raw honey from a reputable source.  Eat at least one teaspoon three to four times a day for most of the issues listed above.  Allow honey to roll down the back of the throat if using to soothe a sore throat and/or infection.  Honey can also be used in the appropriate herbal tea; for instance, mix it into an infusion of elder blossoms for a fever.  Or chop fresh herbs into honey; coltsfoot and honey helps one to heal more quickly from a cold.  To use  on skin problems, simply apply the honey and cover with gauze or cheesecloth—messy but effective.  Peppermint and/or lavender essential oil may be added to honey to enhance the healing process.  While honey may be used topically on anybody, it should not be consumed by children under the age of one year or by those with compromised immune systems.  This is because honey may contain botulinum spores; the digestive systems of adults and older children are acidic enough to inhibit the bacteria but a baby's system is not.

With all these health benefits as well as such a yummy taste, it's time to start cooking with honey.  Generally light honey has a more mild taste while dark honey is stronger.  A few pointers will make your kitchen experiments more successful.  First of all, store honey at room temperature so that it doesn't crystallize.  Don't worry, honey will not spoil.  In fact, honey was found in King Tut's tomb and was still edible.  Then again, maybe that was the cause of the curse of King Tut, but never mind...  Another point to keep in mind is that honey has a higher fructose count than sugar; it's at least 25% sweeter.  One half to 2/3 a cup of honey equals one cup of sugar. Reduce any liquid that's called for in the recipe by half a cup, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda, and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.   

Another characteristic that makes honey so fun to experiment with is that honey tastes much different depending on the flowers that the honeybees visited on their collection flights.  For instance, clover honey has a mild taste that is sweet and flowery while buckwheat honey is dark and tastes somewhat similar to molasses.  Orange blossom honey is said to be a good all around honey that is light and mild.  Here in the mountains of North Carolina we have sourwood honey which is light and reminds me of cotton candy.

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