By: Charles D. Shively, PhD, RPh

Many individuals are unaware that raw honey is a powerhouse of health benefits. Everyone realizes it is a sweetener but how about honey’s enzyme-rich, vitamin and mineral containing, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antibiotic capabilities? Surprised?

Importantly, these characteristics of honey allow it to have value in supporting many different aspects of our health. Firstly, consumption of honey has been shown to help with weight loss where it assists with the digestion and breakdown of the foods that are eaten into more weight-friendly substances which can contribute to the reduction of the extra fat stored in the body. There are at least eight (8) digestive enzymes in honey. The most prominent enzymes in honey are diastase (amylase) and saccharase (sucrase). Weight loss of 5 to 10% has been shown in clinical studies to help improvements in blood pressure, blood lipid profile (ie; cholesterol), sleep apnea and reduction of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors.

Honey provides an energy source for many body functions as the carbohydrates available in honey can be easily converted into glucose by even the most sensitive stomachs. Glucose is transported in the blood from the small intestine to the liver. In the liver, glucose is stored as energy-available glycogen or converted to needed fat. One tablespoon of honey provides 64 calories in contrast to one tablespoon of white sugar (15 calories).

Athletic performance can be improved when honey is consumed as it is an excellent ergogenic (facilitates healthy exercise) aid that helps maintain appropriate blood sugar levels while offering glycogen restoration after a workout. The net result is that honey can regulate the amount of insulin in the body as well as supporting energy expenditure.

Riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, manganese, iron and copper are present in honey. All of these have specific roles in maintaining our health. Interestingly, their quantity present depends on the type of flowers used during apiculture (the raising and keeping of bees). Most healthcare professionals agree that honey blended from different flora (polyflora) is healthier than monofloral (one flower nectar source for the bees).

The use of honey in medicine has occurred for hundreds of years and has shown significant value in wound management (treatment of wounds). As there are antibacterial, antifungal and antibiotic properties available in honey, it helps in promoting autolytic debridement (shedding of dead tissue) while deodorizing malodorous wounds and stimulates healthy tissue growth.

Keep in mind that all honey is not created equal. The quality of the honey and its ability to deliver these health benefits is greatly impacted by the geographical region from where it is sourced and the subsequent processing or assembly of any product. Research has shown that the best geographical areas for honey production are in Mexico, conifer forests in the central European mountains and New Zealand.

The consumption of raw or natural honey is a powerful health additive to one’s daily nutritional needs.


1. 22 Mar 2016.

2. 21 Mar 2016.

3. 20 Mar 2016.



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