I am an unabashed honey lover. I enjoy honey in my tea, drizzled on top of peanut butter on toast, and mixed into my smoothies. Of course, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana (which began yesterday) is celebrated with honey on apples, and the "land of milk and honey" is referenced in the Bible. Honey has a long history of human consumption for thousands of years. In the modern era, a preponderance of the honey that we come across has been heated and filtered so that it contains little in the way of the many beneficial nutrients that honey contains, or isn't even honey at all (apparently a good percentage of the "honey" that is imported from China is just sugar water — and other Chinese honey is contaminated).
Long story short, buying unprocessed (look for the label "raw"), local honey is the healthiest way to go. Yes, it costs more, but fresh, local honey has superior flavor, could prevent seasonal allergies, and importantly, supports local beekeepers who are the last line of defense before a beepocalypse — we all rely on bees to pollinate our gardens and local crops!
If you're looking for even more ways to use honey and support beekeepers, here are a few things it can do outside the kitchen.
1. Shine up your hair: Add 1 teaspoon honey to a quart of warm water, dilute, then soak your hair in the mixture post-shampoo (no, you don't need to rinse it, since it's already diluted). You can also use straight honey on the ends of your 'do to calm frizzies.
2. Facewash: Just mix a small dollop of honey with a bit of warm water in the palm of your hand, then massage over face, working up and out.
3. Fight parasites: A drink made of equal parts honey, vinegar and water is a well-known cure for "backpacker's stomach."
4. Clean cuts: Honey is naturally antimicrobial (that's why it literally lasts forever; it has been found in tombs and such). So slather a bit on scrapes, minor cuts and basic burns, always using a clean implement, of course. Lightly cover the wound — basically you can use honey like a natural antibiotic cream. Skeptical? Here's proof — scientists are actually using the bee product as a potential future source of antibacterial proteins.
5. Get rid of acne: Dab a bit of straight honey on your pimple, and let it sit for a half-hour, then gently rinse off. Repeat the next day; this works best for whiteheads.
6. In the bath: If you are out of fancy bath salts and oils, add 3 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your bathwater; it will moisturize and condition skin, and smell lovely too.
7. Anxiety relief: Whether mixed in with a calming tea (try chamomile, fennel or lavender, or a mix thereof), on it's own, or added to oatmeal at the start of the day, honey has long been used in India to quell nervousness, especially the kind associated with the stomach. Dr. Oz recommendes a blend of honey, ginger and lemon juice.
8: Make lip balm: It's as simple as combining beeswax, olive oil, cocoa butter and honey (and an essential oil if you like). Recipes online abound, but here's a good one to start with.
9: Fight insomnia: If you don't have much trouble falling asleep, but tend to wake up in the middle of the night, it could be totally natural (for centuries many people had a two-sleep schedule) or it could be due to stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, being out of tune. A bit of salted honey (you need both sweet and salty) can help reset these hormones and get you back to sleep. You only need a small amount (this shouldn't be a snack!), so use a teaspoon or egg spoon to keep yourself from overindulging.
10. Soothe a sore throat or cough: In clinical studies, honey has been shown to be as effective at calming coughs as over-the-counter cough medicines. Take it straight, or mix honey with a bit of coconut oil and lemon juice for additional benefits.
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