The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees Honey as a Healer

Upon arriving at the Boatwright house, Lily learns the benefit of adding honey to her diet and her beauty regimen. Her skinny limbs begin to plump, and her hair begins to soften. The doses of honey seem to do wonders for her body. Through both topical application and through ingestion, honey might have numerous health benefits for a variety of ailments from burns to digestion. Honey apparently has been shown to increase longevity, and beekeepers perhaps have statistically fewer incidents of cancer and arthritis than any other occupational group.

The use of honey for healing has been a practice for over 5,000 years. Ancient Greeks used to dab the sticky substance onto wounds in order to heal them more quickly. For the most common of ailments, honey can be used to speed up the healing process. For instance, for natural sunburn relief, combine 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of honey, and 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera gel, and apply the mixture to the sunburned skin. Honey also has a high potassium content, which helps honey kill bacteria. Therefore, applying a thin layer of honey to cuts and scrapes can help keep out bacteria, in addition to providing something of a barrier against the air.

Today, honey is not just a common home remedy; honey products are being marketed to physicians for use in the treatment of burns and wounds. MEDIHONEY dressings, for instance, use Leptospermum honey to help remove dead skin tissue and thus facilitate the growth of new cells. The dressings are the first FDA-approved honey-based product for wounds, and they have been used for a while in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. They are just recently being introduced to the United States market.

Honey has also been shown to combat infections due to its bacteria-killing property. Honey sometimes can destroy infections that are typically immune to drug treatment, such as group A streptococcus, a flesh eating bacteria, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which causes thousands of deaths every year. Using honey for these bacteria has not yet become common practice, but physicians who have tried everything else are sometimes able to find hope in honey.

Of course, honey also can be ingested for its nutritional value. Eating honey is said to do wonders to assist with a person's sleeping habits. A spoonful before bed is said to assist children in avoiding bed wetting, and mixing it with milk before bed can help adults with insomnia. A teaspoon of honey per day apparently can increase calcium intake and therefore decrease the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis. In addition, the use of honey is common in dispelling sore throats or coughs, often being mixed with lemon or tea. Other use honey to combat nasal congestion by combining it with boiling water and then breathing in the fumes.

Finally, honey has been used to increase the health of skin and hair. For a deep facial cleanser, some people mix honey with oatmeal as a face mask. Others make honey into a hair conditioner by mixig it with olive oil.

Whether these remedies and processes work as advertised or not, honey certainly can be added to the healthy person's repertoire.