Honey. Lovely, rich, golden sweetness. For thousands of years, it was the only source of concentrated sweetness that people had access to until the widespread availability of sugar after the industrial revolution. (Allsop, & Miller, 1996)
While today’s honey is collected from the honey bee Apis mellifera, (Mandal & Mandal, 2011) fossils of a stingless honey bee Trigona pisca show that honey has been around for 74-96 million years! (Michener, & Grimaldi, 1988) The actual practice of beekeeping is believed to be between 7000-8000 years old, as Spanish rock paintings have been discovered showing people collecting honeycomb. (Kritsky, 2017)
Aside from it’s delicious flavour and culinary uses, honey has long been prized for its medicinal properties, being used by the ancient Egyptians to enhance fertility (Meo, Al-Asiri, Mahesar, & Ansari, 2017) and was even written about by Aristotle (384-322BC) as a “good salve for sore eyes and wounds”. (Meo, Al-Asiri, Mahesar, & Ansari, 2017)
Honey’s modern-day medicinal uses are many and varied. It is quickly becoming recognised as a suitable alternative to antibiotics for wounds and burns due to its hygroscopic activity, whereby its high sugar content is able to dehydrate bacteria by drawing out moisture. Likewise, it’s being applied to skin grafts and skin donor sites, bed sores, ulcers and to promote the growth of new tissue at injury sites. Internally it may also help repair damaged gut lining and is anti-inflammatory. (Meo, Al-Asiri, Mahesar, & Ansari, 2017)
Raw honey is considered a superfood by many, and it’s no wonder when you look at it’s nutrient profile. It contains vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, and Vitamin C, along with flavonoids, phenolic compounds and fatty acids. It also has several amino acids, proteins and antimicrobials. (Meo, Al-Asiri, Mahesar, & Ansari, 2017)
So with all this apparent goodness, you can see why I was so excited when one of my husband’s mates asked if he could bring his hives out to our place in exchange for all the honey we could eat! We’ve had them for about a month now, and last week when they came out to check the hives, my girls and I were invited down to have a look. No laughing at us in our bee suits!!!
It was absolutely fascinating, and that honey, straight from the hive, oh…my…goodness! Words can’t describe its lusciousness! When the wind is blowing in the right direction, we can even smell the honey up at the house, a good 200 metres away! They pulled a piece of honeycomb from the hive and gave it to the girls to try. They loved it - just like honey flavoured chewing gum!
So in light of our gift of honey, this week I decided to create a recipe to really show case it. Mashed sweet potato with honey-caramelised macadamia nuts! Make sure you checkout the recipe here. It is ah...maze...ing!
Allsop, K. A., & Miller, J. B. (1996). Honey revisited: a reappraisal of honey in pre-industrial diets. British Journal of Nutrition, 75(4), 513–520. https://doi.org/10.1079/BJN19960155
Kritsky, G. (2017). Beekeeping from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages. Annual Review of Entomology, 62, 249–264. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-ento-031616-035115
Michener, C. D., & Grimaldi, D. A. (1988). The oldest fossil bee: Apoid history, evolutionary stasis, and antiquity of social behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 85(17), 6424–6426.
Meo, S. A., Al-Asiri, S. A., Mahesar, A. L., & Ansari, M. J. (2017). Role of honey in modern medicine. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, 24(5), 975–978. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2016.12.010
Cindy Kennedy is a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner & Clinical Herbalist who lives and breathes Hashimoto’s on a personal and professional level. Her true passion lies in turning gluten and dairy-free living from a restricted diet into a delicious and abundant family-friendly lifestyle.