Alternatively Speaking: Just a spoonful of honey

As the High Holy Days approach, alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx looks at the health benefits of honey.

Honey 370 (photo credit: Wikicommons)
Honey 370
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
In the run up to the High Holy Days I am inundated with readers who are desperate for tips on how to better deal with the pressure of the holiday season.
The book, Healing Honey (Chepulis) claims that honey has antioxidant properties which can have a beneficial effect on anxiety levels. Honey is a common remedy I prescribe for those suffering from insomnia, one of the main symptoms of anxiety.
Drinking warm tea with honey before bedtime is an excellent way to alleviate anxiety. The Journal Physiology and Behavior (2009) published a study at Waikato University in New Zealand, proving the effects of honey on anxiety.
The results support that honey does indeed have a beneficial effect on anxiety. So, as anxiety levels rise with the pressure of hosting guests, cooking and cleaning in time for the holidays, make sure to reach for an extra spoonful of honey to take the edge off your nerves.
Honey's therapeutic properties have been understood by natural medicine healers for centuries. Ayurvedic medicine uses honey to increase feelings of mental balance and for treating conditions associated with a deficiency or excess of certain qualities in your bodily make up. In more recent years, conventional medicine is beginning to study and understand the benefits of honey for all kinds of ailments. In the Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing (2002) a study was published that suggested honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune response-enhancing properties.
"Then their father Israel "If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift - a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds." (Genesis 43:11)
Since Rosh Hashana is a time where we come together and eat plentiful amounts, I suggest keeping a pot of honey close to hand. Many clients report suffering from diarrhea, vomiting or even nausea after such heavy meals. This can leave the body dehydrated, undernourished and exhausted. In order to add electrolytes and nutrients back into the body, try mixing half a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt in a glass of fruit juice. This will rehydrate the body and add the necessary glucose, sodium chloride and potassium.
The benefits of honey go beyond its delicious taste. Honey is an excellent natural source of carbohydrates, which provide strength and energy to our bodies. Since honey is known for its effectiveness in keeping levels of blood sugar fairly constant as opposed to sugar, it’s considered a good food to eat before the fast on Yom Kippur. The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while it is the fructose which is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy.
Due to its antiseptic properties, honey inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and helps keep external wounds clean and free from infection. I frequently use honey as a natural cure in first aid treatment for wounds, burns and cuts since it absorbs moisture from the air and promotes healing. Its antibacterial properties also prevent infection and work as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing both swelling and pain. Try using Manuka honey for wound dressing since it has a particularly strong antibacterial property.
"My son, eat honey because it is good, And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste." (Proverbs 24:13)
The holidays are often a time of celebration with family members and may be cause to drink more than usual. A hangover can be cured by applying a honey remedy. Honey is wonderfully gentle on the stomach and contains a mix of natural sugars which speed up the oxidation of alcohol by the liver, therefore acting as a “sobering” agent. Try 15ml of honey with 80ml of orange juice and 70ml of natural yogurt. Mix together until smooth and enjoy.
Finally, and perhaps one of the more popular health benefits of honey, is that it can help treat sore throats. Due to its antimicrobial properties, honey not only soothes throats but also kills certain bacteria that cause the infection. Chinese medicine teaches us that excess "heat" in the body causes a sore throat and adding honey to a drink can be helpful. To soothe inflammation for sore, red throats, try gargling with a mixture of two tablespoons of honey, four tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of salt mixed with a little warm water.Certainly one of the more enjoyable customs of Jewish tradition, this was just a short list of just some of the health benefits of one of the oldest foods enjoyed by humanity. May its symbolism of sweetness truly be a delight and enjoyed by us all, enhancing our desire for a "sweet new year."
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

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