We’ve been wild about raw honey for around 9,000 years now (and counting): from beeswax found in pots at Neolithic archaeological sites, to Ancient Egyptians who used honey for sweetening foods, healing wounds, as a gift to their gods and even for embalming their dead. These days, we’re more like Winnie The Pooh pawing the liquid gold at breakfast and trying not to eat the whole jar.
We have a lot to thank bees for: they fertilise one-third of the food we eat. But bees and other pollinators are declining at catastrophic rates because of pesticides, parasites, disease and habitat loss, factors that are pushing our bees to the brink and putting the future health of our planet at risk. Ideally, we would enforce a chemical ban in the EU, reverse the land-use change that has swept the countryside in the last 50 years and restore our wildflower-rich meadows and pastures.
If the survival of the human species isn’t enough to thank the humble bumblebee for, it turns out that their honey is good for us day-to-day, too. The science behind raw honey as a natural remedy is stacking up. Raw honey contains enzymes, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals that have several benefits for the body.
What you find on the supermarket shelves, however, is mostly cheap syrup. It’s been pasteurised and refined, extending the shelf life and killing the unwanted yeast along with the beneficial nutrients. Raw honey – unpasteurised and unfiltered – is packed straight from the honeycomb.
Black Bee Honey is a British honey brand named after a native British honeybee that has only just been brought back from extinction. “Keeping bees gave me a deeper connection to nature and opened my eyes to the issues which affect them,” says Paul Webb, the company’s co-founder, “Black Bee Honey was founded partly in response to the trend of ever-cheaper food and the harm it causes to our bodies and the environment, but also to celebrate the story of the honey bee and the incredible variety of flavours of good British honey.”
At Leapfrog, we love an unctuous spoonful a day, especially when we’re feeling under the weather.
1. Raw honey is an antioxidant
Honey contains flavonoids and polyphenols that act as antioxidants. We like antioxidants because they help to protect our bodies from cell damage due to free radicals, responsible for the ageing process and the development of chronic diseases.
2. Raw honey is good for your immune system
The phytonutrients in raw honey – bee pollen and propolis – give the honey its immune-modulating properties. It’s also an anti-inflammatory.
3. Raw honey is a prebiotic
Raw honey contains living microorganisms that can nurture good bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system.
4. Raw honey has valuable nutrients
Natural honey contains small amounts of a range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium and zinc. The less its processed, the more nutrients it contains. Honey naturally contains sugar though, so a spoonful a day is enough.
5. Raw honey is antimicrobial and antifungal
Raw honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic, that can kill harmful bacteria and fungi.
6. Raw honey is soothing
If you’ve got an annoying tickly cough, honey in hot or cold water can relieve irritated nerve endings and soothe the throat.
7. Raw honey is a good skin moisturiser
Not only is honey moisturising it contains vitamins and enzymes to calm and soothe itchy and irritated skin.
8. Raw honey is good for the brain
Research suggests that the antioxidant flavonoid pinocembrin found in honey can improve brain function.
9. Raw honey lowers cholesterol
The antioxidants in raw honey prevent bad cholesterol from entering the bloodstream.
Please note that raw honey is only for those with developed digestive and immune systems and not for children under the age of 1.