Common Name: Honey | Scientific Name: Honey

Family: Honey

RESOURCES
Fact Sheet

Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life

Fact Sheet
Honey

Honey is not really an herbal medicine, it is really a plant product, but it is one of the most medicinal plant products available. It is the gem of the herbalists, a magical substance collected by bees! As ignorant as we modern people are to the healing capacity of plants, most of know that lemon and honey will sooth a sore throat just about as well as anything. People have a slight knowledge of honey as a healer. There is so much to know about this magical substance one hardly knows where to start. But start we must! Even more important we need to start taking advantage of its healing powers.

I have kept my innate desire to tell stories to a minimum in these fact sheets, but on honey I will allow myself to tell a personal story. Don’t get too excited, nothing too juicy. I was in the North of Spain researching herbal plants when I came onto a honey seller, and in her shop I found over twenty different kinds of honey. There was thyme honey, lavender honey, eucalyptus honey, and more. Next to each type of honey was a placard listing its medicinal properties. The honey collected from sage blossoms was used for bronchial infections; the honey collected from thyme flowers was used for bladder infections and weaknesses. Lavender honey was the honey for the nervous person. Not only did I was I unaware that so many different honeys existed, I didn’t know that each honey had very different medicinal use. I had never thought beyond honey on toast. I had no idea the world of honey was so complex, and as I spoke to the women running the shop I became aware of all kinds of new healing options. My mind was bathed with information I had never heard before.

I knew that honey was good for you and that it was collected by bees, but that was the extent of my understanding. It could be said that I knew nothing. However, my time with the friendly Spanish honey seller sparked my interest. Enthused, I looked into the subject. The more I looked, the more I learned.

Let’s start with what honey is. I was under the misconception that bees made honey, but this is inaccurate, bees collect honey. To get this concept we have to do a little natural history. Ok, let’s start at the beginning. Plants produce sugar in their leaves through a complex process no one entirely understands. Suffice it to say, through a miraculous process, leaves convert the suns’ energy into sugar. Officially speaking, the leaves trap the suns’ energy. We call this trapped energy sugar. The leaves then ship this sugar to the flowers of the plant. In the flower, special glands called “nectarines” or “nectar producing glands” take this sugar and produce with it nectar. The nectarine then pumps this nectar into reservoirs aimed at attracting bees. Bees assist in flower pollination and the flower provides nectar reservoirs to encourage the bees to come visiting.

The nectar collecting bees hook themselves up to these nectar reservoirs and fill their stomachs up with the liquid sugar. They then fly to the hive where they spit up the nectar into the empty cells of the honeycomb. A different class of bees then sit atop the cells and fan them. The end result is that the nectar evaporates, the amount of water it contains is gradually reduced. When the nectar has been evaporated down to 1/4 its original water content, you have what we call honey. Then yet another class of bees produces wax and seal the honey containing cell with it. So you see, bees don’t make honey, bees process nectar into honey. Sounds like word splitting, but it is an important distinction. Nectar is a very special substance produced by a plant. It becomes even more special when the bees dehydrate it making it special and very concentrate!

So when you eat honey, you are eating the nectar of flowers, which, if you think about it, is really the captured power of the sun. The story starts with the leaves of the plant trapping the energy of the sun! Honey is an incredible source of energy! Along with the sugars produced in the leaves, honey contains other ingredients the plant puts into the sugary syrup pumped out by the nectarines. This accounts for the different sorts of honeys out there, buckwheat honey is dark and clover honey is light, orange blossom honey smells of orange blossoms, and honey collected from garlic blossoms initially has a garlic taste. Each honey produced from a specific plant carries compounds unique to that plant. So on top of having the power of the sun, honey has some essential ingredients of the plants from which it was collected. It makes sense that different honeys would have different health characteristics. Before we talk about the health facts and figures of honey, I want to tantalize you with some honey history. As you already know, honey is a special plant product. You may not know that people have felt this way for some time.

Firstly, bees are kept for honey collection from the North Pole to the South Pole, and all the way around the globe. Bees are kept every place man lives and flowers bloom. Unlike other animals kept in captivity, the bee has not changed an iota in all the millions of years man has kept them for the sweet healing product they make available. There is no such thing as a tame bee, they all come with the equipment needed to do battle with man’s sensitive skin, this part has not improved since the cave days, which is when bee keeping first started.

On a prehistoric level, caves in both Switzerland and in Spain have been unearthed that contain cave paintings of men hanging on cliffs trying to get at beehives filled with honey. The painting from Spain shows a man with his hand in the hive, snatching honey while huge bees swarm around him. Being a beekeeper and having lived through a swarm of bees crawling all over me, If would draw the experience the same way. Those little insects seem pretty large when crawling all over you. The Cave Paintings tell us love of honey is nothing new.

There is a lapse in the history of honey from the cave days until the year 4000 BC. when the Egyptians were kind enough to keep records of their bee keeping. It seems they would load boats with beehives and float them down the Nile stopping at various points with crops in bloom. The Egyptians were real keen on honey. The Pharaoh had a bee stamp that was stamped right next to his signature. The lower Nile was called land of the bee due to the number of beekeepers in residence. The bee was a symbol of power and health to the Egyptians, and they used it in jewelry, pottery, art, and architecture. We have lots of fun bee facts from ancient Egypt due to the fact that they wrote all about honey in papyrus scrolls and on hieroglyphic tablets.

To the Egyptians the incredibly organized life of the hive became the model for civilizations. One particularly insulting fact is that the Egyptians told their slaves that they should act like bees, working hard and asking no questions. The Egyptian doctors saw honey as the ultimate healing substance, and it was one of the most important substances used in religious rites. Which, of course, included human sacrifice. It seems some of the sacrifices were covered with honey before they had the chance to meet their maker. What a horrible way to go! Lovers exchanged honey pots as symbols of their eternal love and royal families were buried with a lot of honey, prepared for the after life in a style to which they had become accustomed. Being a symbol of eternal bliss, the Pharaoh went to rest with enough honey to keep several villages healthy for a century. Queen Tiy’s parent’s tomb was excavated and a jar of honey was found, and catch this, 3300 years later, the honey was still in good shape. Which brings up one of the strangest honey facts, it never goes bad. Bacteria cannot grow in honey, who knows what the bees do to it, (nobody knows), but honey never goes bad. Talk about a serious shelf life, 3300 years is some old produce.

Here’s a great honey fact, in the marriage arrangements in Ancient Egypt the bridegroom had to agree to give the bride a specified amount of honey every single year, and of course girls from good families went for a higher amount annually than those from lesser families. Apparently the wedding ceremony ended with the groom saying I take you as my wife, and agree to give you ( ) amount of honey every year. The Egyptians took honey seriously!

Moving right along the ancient world’s time line, our next stop is in Greece. At the moment Athens was being built the Greeks were most fond of honey. They felt it helped the mind and the body, making both strong and vital. In 400 BC four thousand hives were kept in Attica, with the sole purpose of supplying the city with the healing substance. When looking for health clues from the ancient world, a list of the best body builders can be spotted by what the ancient culture feed its professional athletes and soldiers. They took the sport of fighting seriously, it was to the death, and the gladiators were given all the best. In Greece, these professional body builders were fed as much honey as they could take in. Greece still produces some of the best honey available. The Greek bees collect it from thyme and oregano blossoms that grow wild in the mountains.

Moving onto Rome, one of my favorite history stops, we find a rather interesting practice. It seems when the honey crop was ready to harvest, people went to the beekeeper’s yard and celebrated the arrival of the new honey crop with a drunken orgy. It seems people feasted on the fresh honey with wine, song, and nudity. I can tell you this is not a practice continued today, at least not in my bee yard. Aside from the honey harvest being the kick off for the season of orgiastic sex, honey was used by the peasants to pay their taxes. Virgil, the Roman poet wrote extensively on the topic of bee keeping and honey. In fact, one of his most famous poems dealt with the subject.

In the Middle Ages these straw hives were often kept on the walls of fortified cities. There the bees were out of the way, for one thing, with the additional advantage that in case of an attack, the city’s defenders could hurl the hives down on the enemies’ heads. Perhaps one might suppose a bee couldn’t do much to a man in armor, but those were the excitable black bees of northern Europe, and when a knight had got a dozen or so of them inside the visor of his helmet (and they would go for those dark slits) I imagine he would be quite preoccupied until he had them out again. As for archers and spearmen in open-faced helmets, their eyes would be swelled shut in no time.

During the Middle Ages in Europe bee keeping was quite popular, and though many people lived in walled cities, the lust for honey forced a rather unusual compromise. The inhabitants of the walled towns hung beehives over the sides of the city walls, on the outside of the wall, hanging right over the moat. The bees flew to the country to collect the city dweller’s honey, bees by the by have a range of three miles, and the city dwellers had as much of the sweet substance as they could use. And this acted as protection; if soldiers from another Prince’s domain were causing trouble outside the city, the people just dropped the hives on the ground and the bees crawled into the armored soldier’s suits and stung the crap out of them. Talk about a home security system.

The history of men keeping bees in their midst so as to have honey is worthy of an entire book, and I will have to cut the topic short of its entirety. I wanted to point out all the trouble people went to have honey, and this was in part due to the fact it is sweet and tastes nice, but moreover, it was considered to be one of the single most healing items to keep in the house.

This point was really driven home to me when I was rooting around Northern Spain doing herbal research. During my travels I came onto an apple orchard way up in the mountains of Asturias, and behind the hand hewn stone walls that surrounded it stood the owner, a gentleman by the name of Hanibal. He was working with stone to finish off a new wall, lugging stones and breaking them with a single stroke of a not so large hammer. In conversation I learned that the man was my grandfather’s age who at the time had a hard time getting out of a chair to greet company. I asked Hanibal what he ate to stay in such terrific shape, and he responded, honey, every day. Over the years I have interviewed many octogenarians He would be the first of many persons I met with a lot of years racked up still running around like spring chickens. They all told me that honey was the key to staying well and vital well into old age. Apparently all that stored sun energy has the ability to warm a body heading into winter!

The image of Hanibal busting stones with a hammer stuck in my mind, and compels to make people more aware of honey. Honey has been used to treat every condition that man has ever suffered, and as a health preservative for even longer. The list of uses is too long to even bother listing them. The Essenes, a sect of ancient Jews that lived in the desert a real long time ago, are reported to have used honey as their staple. These folks were noted for living really long lives, as into their 100′s.

The universal belief is that honey will make you mentally and physically strong. Think about this, honey is the food of the bees, it is what they eat. Bees out collecting nectar will often collect their same weight in nectar, so let’s say they leave the hive weighing a pound, on their round trip, loaded down with nectar, they weigh two pounds. Imagine running to the grocery three miles away, loading down with your weight in groceries, and running home as fast as you can. This is some serious work. Remember, the bees aren’t running, they are flying against air currents in a mini jumbo jet that is their body. This effort requires powerful food, that is what honey is. During the Second World War, the bomb shelters were stocked with honey and wheat germ as people could survive on nothing but the two substances for long periods of time. Remember, honey doesn’t go bad. They could have been down there for 3000 years and their food supply would have been safe.

I have been told by more than one know-it-all that honey is just sugar, which is in part true, and also totally inaccurate. First of all it comes packing with the essence of whatever plant originally produced it, but beyond this, it is different than sugar in a bag. Honey is an inverted sugar; that is to say, it is already partially digested, and can enter the body as energy instantly. It is composed of the same sugars contained in fruit, dextrose and levulose. Bag sugar, or cane sugar is sucrose. Bag sugar will kill a diabetic, and honey will not. Honey does not require the complex digestive process that cane sugar does.

Honey is said to be a miracle food by many cultures, for one simple reason, it is. Hanibal suggested I eat honey every day for a month and stated I would have more energy, and damn if he wasn’t right. The miracle medicine that honey is, is something that is hard to tack down. The fact it never goes bad makes no sense, and the fact that honey can help people live to be active and healthy well past the usual moment in life doesn’t either. I guess knowing why honey is such a life giving food isn’t as important as knowing it is a food we should all take in on a regular basis.
Practitioners’ Advice

Honey can be used on a daily basis to increase general vim and vigor. It can also be used in times of trouble. Convalescence foods have gone out of vogue and are something that needs to be rediscovered. When we are recovering from an illness, from a surgery, in short, from any health drama, or bodies need energy to accomplish the healing. We need to give the body energy to fire the healing process. Honey, stored sun energy, is the ultimate easily digested and absorbed food. It gives the body the energy it needs when it needs it. Beyond this, each honey has its own unique virtues which can address the specific body problem a person is experiencing. If one were nervous, Lavender honey or Linden honey would be most appropriate. They are known to relax people. If the problem is respiratory, perhaps eucalyptus honey is the honey needed. Honey can be a general and specific tonic all at the same time!
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life

Honey

Our next plant isn’t really a plant, it’s a plant product, but it is one of the most medicinal plant products used all over the world, and a perfect addition to the tonic pot. As ignorant as we are to plant’s as healing agents, most of know that lemon and honey will sooth a sore throat just about as well as anything. People have a slight knowledge of honey as a healer, one that needs to be busted wide open with some of the information readily available.
I have kept my innate desire to tell stories to a minimum in this book, but on honey I will allow myself to tell a personal story. Don’t get too excited, nothing too juicy. I was in the North of Spain researching herbal plants when I came onto a honey seller, and in her shop I found over twenty different kinds of honey. The honeys were classified according to what plant the honey was collected from, and next to each type of honey was a placard with its medicinal values written in clear letters.

So when you eat honey, you are eating the nectar of flowers,

which is really the power of the sun captured. Along with the sugars produced in the leaves, honey contains other ingredients the plant puts into the sugary syrup pumped out by the nectarines. This accounts for the different sorts of honeys out there, buckwheat honey is dark and clover honey is light, orange blossoms smells of orange blossoms, and honey collected from garlic blossoms initially has a garlic taste. So on top of having the power of the sun, honey has some essential ingredients of the plants from which it was collected, in this it makes sense that different honeys would have different health characteristics. Before we talk about the health facts and figures, I want to tantalize you with some honey history. As you already know, honey is a special plant product, and people have felt this way for some time.

Firstly, bees are kept for honey collection from the North Pole to the South Pole, and all the way around the globe. Bees are kept every place man lives and flowers bloom.

The honey collected from sage plants was used for bronchial infections, the honey collected from thyme used for bladder infections and weaknesses. Not only did I not know so many different honeys existed, I didn’t know that each honey had very different medicinal purposes. I had never thought beyond clover honey in bear shaped squeeze bottles “for your convenience.” I had no idea the world of honey was so complex, and as I spoke to the women running the shop my mind overflowed with healing information I had never conceived.

I knew that honey was good for you, it was made by bees, and at least couldn’t be bad for you, but that was the extent of my understanding. It could be said that I knew nothing. However, my time with the friendly honey seller sparked in interest in me that resulted in the following information. Put that squeeze bear away and get ready for some information on the next plant that could save your life.

Let’s start with what honey is, I myself was under the misconception that bees made honey, but this is inaccurate, bees collect honey. Plants produce nectar in nectarines or nectar producing glands located in the center of the flower. These nectarines pump out liquid sugars produced in the leaves. The leaves trap the energy of the sun in a process that no one really understands and converts the power of the sun into food. The nectar collecting bees hooked themselves up to these sugar pumps and fill their stomachs up with the liquid sugar. They then fly to the hive where they spit up the nectar into the empty cells of the honey comb. A different class of bees then sit on the combs and fan them to evaporate the water contained in the nectar carried from the flower to the hive. When the nectar has been evaporated down to 1/4 its original water content, the yet another class of bees produce wax and seal the cell with it. So you see, bees don’t make honey, plants make honey. Bees process honey.

So when you eat honey, you are eating the nectar of flowers,

which is really the power of the sun captured. Along with the sugars produced in the leaves, honey contains other ingredients the plant puts into the sugary syrup pumped out by the nectarines. This accounts for the different sorts of honeys out there, buckwheat honey is dark and clover honey is light, orange blossoms smells of orange blossoms, and honey collected from garlic blossoms initially has a garlic taste. So on top of having the power of the sun, honey has some essential ingredients of the plants from which it was collected, in this it makes sense that different honeys would have different health characteristics. Before we talk about the health facts and figures, I want to tantalize you with some honey history. As you already know, honey is a special plant product, and people have felt this way for some time.

Firstly, bees are kept for honey collection from the North Pole to the South Pole, and all the way around the globe. Bees are kept every place man lives and flowers bloom. Unlike other animals kept in captivity, the bee has not changed an iota in all the millions of years man has kept them for the sweet healing product they produced. There is no such thing as a tame bee, they all come with the equipment needed to do battle with man’s sensitive skin, this part has not improved since the cave days, which is when bee keeping started.

On a prehistoric level, caves in both Switzerland and in Spain have been unearthed that contain cave paintings of men hanging on cliffs trying to get at bee hives filled with honey. The painting from Spain shows a man with his hand in the hive, snatching honey while out of scale bees swarm around him. Being a bee keeper and having lived through a swarm of bees covering my body, I would draw the experience just the same way. Those little insects seem pretty large when crawling all over you.

The earliest historic records show that four thousand years before Christ the Egyptians used to load their hives on boats, sail up the Nile with the prevailing northerly winds until far to the south they came to where flowers were beginning to bloom.

There is a lapse in the history of honey from the cave days until the year 4000 b.c. when the Egyptians were kind enough to keep records of their bee keeping. It seems they would load boats with bee hives and float down the Nile stopping at various points with crops in bloom. The Egyptians were real keen on honey, and the Pharaoh had a bee stamp that was stamped right next to his signature. The lower Nile was called land of the bee due to the number of bee keepers in residence. The bee was a symbol of power and health to the Egyptians, and they used it in jewelry, pottery, art, and architecture. We have lots of fun bee facts from ancient Egypt due to the fact that they wrote all about in papyrus scrolls and on hieroglyphic tablets.

To the Egyptians the incredibly organized life of the hive became the model for civilizations. One particularly insulting fact is that the Egyptians told their slaves that they should act like bees, working hard and asking no questions. The Egyptian doctors saw honey as the ultimate healing substance, and it was one of the most important substances used in religious rites. Which, of course, included human sacrifice. It seems some of the sacrifices were covered with honey before they had the chance to meet their maker. What a horrible way to go! Lovers exchanged honey pots as symbols of their eternal love and royal families were buried with a lot of honey, prepared for the after life in a style to which they had become accustomed. Being a symbol of eternal bliss, the Pharaoh went to rest with enough honey to keep several villages healthy for a century. Queen Tiy’s parent’s tomb was excavated and a jar of honey was found, and catch this, 3300 years later, the honey was still in good shape. Which brings up one of the strangest honey facts, it never goes bad. Bacteria cannot grow in honey, who knows what the bees do to it, (nobody knows), but honey never goes bad. Talk about a serious shelf life, 3300 years is some old produce.

Here’s a great honey fact, in the marriage arrangements in Ancient Egypt the bridegroom had to agree to give the bride a specified amount of honey every single year, and of course girls from good families went for a higher amount annually than those from lesser families. Apparently the wedding ceremony ended with the groom saying I take you as my wife, and agree to give you ( ) amount of honey every year. The Egyptians took honey seriously as it is a serious substance.

Moving right along the ancient world’s time line, our next stop is in Greece , at the moment Athens was being built the Greeks were most fond of honey. They felt it helped the mind and the body,

making it strong and vital. In 400 b.c., four thousand hives existed in Attica , with the sole purpose of supplying the city with the healing substance. When looking for health clues from the ancient world, a list of the best body builders can be spotted by what the ancient culture feed its professional athletes and soldiers. They took the sport of fighting seriously, it was to the death, and the gladiators were given all the best. In Greece , these professional body builders were fed as much honey as they could take in. Greece still produces some of the best honey available. The Greek bees collect it from thyme and oregano that grows wild on the mountains.

Moving onto Rome , one of my favorite history stops, we find a rather interesting practice. It seems when the honey crop was ready to harvest, people went to the bee keeper’s yard and celebrated the life giving combs completion with a drunken orgy. It seems people feasted on the fresh honey with wine, song, and nudity. I can tell you this is not a practice continued today, at least not in my bee yard. Aside from the honey harvest being the kick off for the season of orgiastic sex, honey was used by the peasants to pay their taxes. Virgil, the Roman poet wrote extensively on the topic of bee keeping and honey. In fact, one of his most famous poems dealt with the subject. The Romans liked to have a party, and it seems honey was the center attraction on more than one occasion.

In the Middle Ages these straw hives were often kept on the walls of fortified cities. There the bees were out of the way, for one thing, with the additional advantage that in case of an attack, the city’s defenders could hurl the hives down on the enemies’ heads. Perhaps one might suppose a bee couldn’t do much to a man in armor, but those were the excitable black bees of northern Europe, and when a knight had got a dozen or so of them inside the visor of his helmet (and they would go for those dark slits) I imagine he would be quite preoccupied until he had them out again. As for archers and spearmen in open-faced helmets, their eyes would be swelled shut in no time.

During the Middle Ages in Europe bee keeping was quite popular, and though many people lived in walled cities, the lust for honey forced a rather unusual compromise. The inhabitants of the walled towns hung bee hives over the sides of the city walls, on the outside of the wall, hanging right over the moat. The bees flew to the country to collect the city dweller’s honey, bees by the by have a range of three miles, and the city dwellers had as much of the sweet substance as they could use. And this acted as protection, if soldiers from another Prince’s domain were causing trouble outside the city, the people just dropped the hives on the ground and the bees crawled into the armored soldier’s suits and stung the crap out of them. Talk about a home security system.

The history of men keeping bees in their midst so as to have honey is worthy of an entire book, and I will have to cut the topic short of its entirety. I wanted to point out all the trouble people went to to have honey, and this was in part due to the fact it is sweet and tastes nice, but moreover, it was considered to be one of the single most healing items to keep in the house.

This point was really driven home to me when I was rooting around Northern Spain for herbal information. During my travels I came onto an apple orchard way up in the mountains of Asturias , and behind the hand hewn stone walls that surrounded it stood the owner, a gentleman by the name of Hanibal. He was working with stone to finish off a new wall, lugging stones and breaking them with a single stroke of a not so large hammer. In conversation I learned that the man was my grandfather’s age, a man that has a hard time getting out of a chair to greet company. I asked him what he ate, and he responded, honey, every day. He would be the first of many persons I met with a lot of years racked up still running around like spring chickens. They all told me that honey was the key to staying well and vital well into old age.

The image of Hanibal busting stones with a hammer stuck in my mind, and compelled me to include this plant into the list of thirty plants that could save your life. Honey has been used to treat every condition that man has ever suffered, and as a health preservative for even longer. The list of uses is too long to even bother listing them. The Essences, a sect of ancient Jews that lived in the desert a real long time ago, are reported to have used honey as a staple. These folks were noted for living really long lives, as into their 100′s. Most recently honey has found use in treating allergies, a condition that threatens to ruin the quality of your life.

The universal belief is that honey will make you strong, your mind and your body. Think about this, honey is the food of the bees, it is what they eat. A bee out collecting nectar will often collect their same weight in nectar, so let’s say they leave the hive weighing a pound, on their round trip, loaded down with nectar, they weigh two pounds. Imagine running to the grocery three miles away, loading down with your weight in groceries, and running home as fast as you can. This is some serious work. Remember, the bees aren’t running, they are flying against air currents in a mini jumbo jet that is their body. This effort requires powerful food, that is what honey is. During the Second World War, the bomb shelters were stocked with honey and wheat germ as people could survive on nothing but the two substances for long periods of time. Honey doesn’t go bad. They could have been down there for 3000 years and their food supply wouldn’t have gone bad.

I have been told by more than one know-it-all that honey is just sugar, which is in part true, and also totally inaccurate. First of all it comes packing with the essence of whatever plant originally produced it, but beyond this, it is different than sugar in a bag. Honey is an inverted sugar, that is to say, it is already partially digested, and can enter the body as energy instantly. It is composed of the same sugars contained in fruit, dextrose and levulose. Bag sugar, or cane sugar is sucrose. Bag sugar will kill a diabetic, and honey will not. Honey does not require the complex digestive process that cane sugar does.

Honey is said to be a miracle food by many cultures, for one simple reason, it is. Hanibal suggested I eat honey every day for a month and stated I would have more energy, and damn if he wasn’t right. The miracle medicine that honey is, is something that is hard to tack down. The fact it never goes bad makes no sense, and the fact that honey can help people live to be active and healthy well past the usual moment in life doesn’t either. I guess knowing why honey is such a life giving food isn’t as important as knowing it is a food we should all take in on a regular basis.



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