Honey, It Does the Body Good

The natural gift of bees has a well-earned reputation as a health and beauty elixir.



Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto

For thousands of years, honey has been prized for far more than its sweetness. Ancient peoples, from the Mayans to the Romans, used honey as an antiseptic and healing agent. During the time of the pharaohs, Egyptians and other cultures included honey in their embalming process; legend has it that the body of Alexander the Great was returned to his Macedonian homeland in a coffin filled with honey as a preservative. Honey also has served as a skin enhancer for women throughout recorded history.

In the bestseller The Secret Lives of Bees, author Sue Monk Kidd intersperses her fictional tale with folksy tidbits on the medicinal and beautifying properties of honey. Narine Nikogosian’s book Return to Beauty, Old-World Recipes for Great Radiant Skin contains more than a dozen recipes with honey. Today, all manner of ready-made cosmetic and beauty products include honey as a key ingredient, and even some bandage manufacturers include small amounts of honey in their products.

So, are the remarkable properties attributed to honey fact or fiction? Conservation biologist and author Dr. Reese Halter notes in his book The Incomparable Honeybee that honey contains hydrogen peroxide and glucose oxidase, which together make it a powerful antiseptic. Acids and enzymes contribute to honey’s antibacterial properties. The many vitamins and minerals in honey make it the ultimate health food, and it’s also nourishing to the skin when applied topically.

Turns out our ancient forefathers (and -mothers) were right on the money about honey. Stir some into your tea to soothe a sore throat, or apply a dot of honey to a minor cut or burn if you’re out of antibiotic ointment. Smooth a bit of honey on chapped lips, or apply to hands as a softening lotion (rinse it off and gently pat your hands dry after a few minutes). Make a mask of honey and egg yolk for an at-home facial treatment. Or you can simply look for cleaners, emollients, wrinkle treatments and other skin care and health-promoting products that contain honey in order to enjoy the benefits of Mother Nature’s sweetest gift.

 

 

Earth Therapeutics’ Loofah Exfoliating Scrubs include an Oatmeal & Honey version to calm and soothe as it smoothes skin, $7.99 at earththerapeutics.com.

 

 

 

 

Oatmeal and honey herbal bath soap helps moisturize and exfoliate your skin, $4.75 at angelicsoapsandgifts.com.

 

 

 

New for 2010 is La Prairie’s White Caviar Illuminating Cream, which includes white honey and white truffles to hydrate skin, $450 at Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus at The Mall at Millenia, and Saks Fifth Avenue at The Florida Mall.

 

 

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