Raw honey is pure, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Most conventional honey that you buy in the supermarket is processed. This means that it has been filtered and heat treated which reduces the chance of it crystalising. Unfortunately it also removes most of the goodness, leaving you with something equivalent to pure sugar.
Health benefits of consuming raw honey;
Packed with vitamins and trace minerals – raw honey contains an abundance of vitamins, (A, Bs, C, D, E, K) and trace elements essential to the body, such as magnesium, calcium, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, iodine, potassium and sodium.
Reduces seasonal allergy symptoms – by consuming raw honey that has come from local bees, your body will receive very low doses of the pollens that can irritate it. Over time, the body can build up resistance and become desensitised. (Pasteurised honey does not contain pollen so will not have this benefit). There is a study published in the Allergy and Immunology journal from 2011, which states that patients who consumed birch pollen pre season, where significantly less likely to suffer from allergies caused by birch pollen than those who did not. (1).
Immune booster – raw honey is high in polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. These help to reduce free radicals in the body and can help to protect against serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer. (2)
Wound healing – raw honey is highly antimicrobial and antibacterial. It has the ability to draw liquid out of wounds and the high sugar content supresses bacterial growth. In addition, it contains an enzyme called Glucose Oxidase which when applied to a wound, releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide which will keep it clean. These properties mean it is ideal for applying to sunburned skin as well as wounds. (3)
Promotes sleep – eating a small teaspoon of honey before bed will increase the release of melatonin in the body – the hormone needed for good sleep! In addition, this will help boost the immune system since the body can repair itself when it is resting.
Can help stabilise blood sugar – Compared to dextrose and sucrose, raw honey causes a much lower spike in insulin levels and so is a good alternative as a sweetener. (4)
Natural cough syrup – 1 teaspoon of raw honey at bed time coats the throat and can reduce mucus production and subsequent irritation. One study found that it was just as effective as over the counter cough medicines, (5) with the bonus of course that it completely natural, and has all the other benefits listed above!
Where to buy raw honey;
Locally produced honey is best, especially if you want to use it to help reduce allergies, so find a bee keeper who lives near you.
Alternatively, you can buy a source of raw honey here that comes from British bees.
A word of caution – raw honey may contain botulism spores which are considered to be a threat to children under a year old, whose gut bacteria may not be fully developed. In the average healthy person, this should not be a cause for concern. My son eats raw honey every day and our family have never experienced any side effects from this.