The use of honey as a healing agent is nothing new. It was an ingredient in medicinal compounds and cures made by Egyptian physicians 5,000 years ago, and its medical use has been found in other ancient practices from traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda to Mayan shamanism. In the past ten years there has been an explosion in scientific research on honey as medicine at universities, research centers, and medical clinics around the world.
Presenting the very latest scientific and medical evidence of the healing properties of honey-including that from the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand-Nathaniel Altman explores the broad spectrum of medicinal uses of honey and how these remedies can be used safely at home as well as by licensed health care practitioners. He includes an extensive selection of honey-based recipes that can be used to treat common health problems-from burns, conjunctivitis, and ulcers to tooth decay, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. He explains the physiological reasons why honey is so effective in treating antibiotic-resistant diseases with no side effects and honey's ability to kill E. coli and "super-bugs" like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Drawing on centuries of material from historical and folk medicine sources, he also examines the sacred role of bees from ancient Egypt onward and the modern problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, including methods for protecting our precious hives.
NATHANIEL ALTMAN is a medical writer and researcher who has written more than 15 books on alternative healing, including The Oxygen Prescription, Healing Springs, and A Russian Herbal. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Like many people, I'm fascinated by honeybees and have been since childhood. I grew up on a three-acre "rocky farm" in upstate New York, with early memories of a rustic beehive that the previous owners attached to an old locust tree at the edge of our property. Every spring the bees would leave the hive and visit the blossoming peach trees, apple trees, and blackberry bushes on the hill behind our farmhouse. We also found them taking nectar from the forsythia, lilac, and rose bushes that bloomed in the yard. Like most boys raised in the country, my brother and I built lookouts and forts and often hiked through the property, where invariably we'd cross paths with bees and wasps. Yet unlike the wasps and yellow jackets that would often pursue and sometimes sting us, the honeybees tended to go about their business and left us alone.
Over the years I have written a number of books about natural and alternative healing, and my book The Oxygen Prescription (Healing Arts Press, 2007) focused on the therapeutic value of ozone and hydrogen per-oxide. Our body naturally produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide to help protect us from disease. Hydrogen peroxide not only helps oxygenate the body but also has the capacity to stimulate oxidative enzymes or proteins that accelerate oxidative reactions. They, in turn, can destroy viruses and bacteria. This is one reason why physicians have clinically administered small amounts of hydrogen peroxide (usually diluted in a standard saline solution) to patients as a healing agent for more than a hundred years.
I was surprised to learn that honey contains an enzyme that can actually help produce low yet continuous levels of hydrogen peroxide. This has been found to be a major reason for honey's legendary ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The use of honey as a healing agent is nothing new. It was an ingredient in medicinal compounds and cures made by Egyptian physicians five thousand years ago. In India Ayurvedic physicians recommended using honey to promote good health, while the ancient Greeks believed that honey could promote both virility and longevity. Traditional Chinese healers started using honey thousands of years ago, and it continues to make up an important part of Chinese medicine today.
Although several hundred articles on the medicinal value of honey appeared in medical and scientific journals between 1935 and 1990, scientific research was often overlooked by physicians who focused on antibiotics, antiviral, and other drugs to treat human disease.
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