And now you ask in your heart,
“How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?”
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
K. Gibran—On Pleasure
The honey bee is one of the most miraculous creatures on our planet. Left to their own devices a single honey bee can visit 100 to 200 flowers every day—and a whole hive? Three million. To put that into a perspective, a quart of honey takes about 10 to 15 million pollinated flowers, which can be a distance up to 155,000 miles.
While the honey bee spends their days bobbing from flower to flower, drinking of nectar to share with their hivemates, they are wiggling in pollen, resulting in the pollination of 80% of the plants we use. That’s probably why we have such a rich history with the insect and it’s products.
Honey’s Sweet History
The honeybee has played a part in much of human history. We don’t want to say that the animal created human culture, but our nomadic ancestors followed the bees throughout the year because where there were bees, there was food.
It didn’t take long for our species to learn (whether they recognized the science behind pollination or not) that the tiny honeybee is a big deal when it comes to finding the nutrients we need—not to mention that sweet, syrup-y goodness happening in the hive.
Throughout history, honey has had it’s place among the gods. It was used as payment in Germanic tribes, a symbol of wisdom by the Nordic peoples, and considered a sign of fertility along with the food of the gods in several cultures. Ancient Greeks have honey down as Zeus’s baby food and the Egyptians think of it as a thread connecting heaven and earth—the taste of honey is a momentary slice of godliness. In fact, Honey has been found in the tombs of the ancient royals in Egypt—by the way, that honey was still viable after all these thousands of years.
No wonder why the ancients knew it to be an everlasting life elixir.
For thousands of years we’ve known honey to be more than just our favorite sweet snack. It’s a verifiable medicine so revered for its powerful effects that it was collected and buried with the ancient royal people.
It hasn’t been until pretty recently that science has helped us verify exactly how this powerful elixir is made and what makes it such an incredible force for healing.
Honey is, in essence, concentrated plant nectar. When the bees are drinking nectar from plant to plant, they use some of it as energy and store a lot more of it in their stomach. The enzymes in the bee’s stomachs work to start fermenting the nectar and the bee’s body removes much of the water. When the bee returns to the hive, it regurgitates the honey-like substance to give sustenance to its hivemates (all of whom are helping with the fermentation and water removal from the nectar). The last honeybee puts the last bit of nectar, now much thicker and much more honey-like, into a honeycomb in the hive where the bees use their wings to dehydrate the honey the rest of the way. That’s right. Your favorite raw honey has been fermented in the stomach of, regurgitated, and dehydrated by the wings of potentially thousands of honey bees.
And all that natural care makes it the perfect substance. Every type of plant has it’s own specific chemical makeup, and nectar is just water from the inside of a plant. That means concentrated nectar is a concentration of the nutrients specific to the plants—and they’re all bioavailable.
It makes logical sense then, that the larger variety of plants, and the higher quality of plant, that the honeybee snuggled with in its days of foraging, the more nutritious the honey will be. In fact, more than 200 different substances are found in honey!
Everything from vitamins B1, B2, B6, Biotin, and folic acid to essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, silica, phosphorous, sulphur, and copper. It has the bee enzymes and pollen that can help to boost our immunity, amino acids that build our cells, and even trace amounts of helpful neurotransmitters. Just the nutritional value is enough to make honey a staple food in anyone’s diet but the medicinal effect of honey on the body is nothing to shake a finger at.
Honey is used as an anti-sclerotic substance. That means it can help keep bodily tissues from hardening—there is no for sure cause for issues like multiple sclerosis but it is being considered an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own tissues. Honey is known to be a wonderful regulator of the immune system as well, it’s possible that these two things are connected.
Honey, being fermented in the stomachs of tiny creatures, is a natural probiotic and is soothing to our digestive tracts. It is a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial in its raw form and because of these actions is great taken internally for any type of sickness or used topically to help protect and heal wounds.
The deeper you read into the medicinal value of honey, the more you will realize that the list never ends. The thing is though, you have to be careful about the honey you choose. The lists you read don’t apply to all of them.
How to Choose the Best Honey
As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring the flower, or its color or fragrance, so let the sage dwell on earth.—Buddha
There are a couple of general rules for the honey that you want to use everyday:
1—Choose organic or biodynamic. This isn’t something you want to forego. You know that honey is just fermented sweetness taken directly from earth. Whatever is in or on the flowers that the honeybees drink from, will absolutely end up in the honey. That includes pesticides and herbicides.
2—Choose raw. Unfiltered is even better. Processed honeys are often used at high heat, which destroys a lot of the nutritional value found in the substance.
You can go as deep as you want to in honey-land. You can choose honey from specific types of plants or from a particular type of bee—the possibilities are limitless—but if you follow those two rules, you’ll be in pretty good shape.
And you’re in luck because we have the perfect options for you.
The Sanandi way is to create the best, most bioavailable medicines out there. We’re dedicated to biodynamic farming, which means that our bees are drinking nectar from the cleanest, most biodiverse landscape possible.
Further, we use a drop honey collection medicine. It doesn’t disturb the bees, which means it has the best healing quality. It’s difficult to get elsewhere, but we produce 500 kg a year of this elixir.
The honeys we produce are a full circle product. The bees are the pollinators of the same plants they drink the nectar from. Those same plants are both filling in the honey with naturally fermented and bioavailable phytonutrients and then are infused at low temperatures back into the honey to give the specific healing action boost we intend for this sweet medicine.
We offer four functionals honeys for your full body health.
Digestive. With herbs like cinnamon, gingers, wormwood, and milk thistle, our digestive honey helps soothe and protect the entire digestive system. It’s wonderful to help balance microflora, decrease toxicity in the body, work with digestive upset and gas.
Regenerative Rest. Chamomile, lavender, reishi, and valerian bolster this one to lull you into the sweetest of sleepings with actions to sedate, calm, and destress your entire body.
Respiratory. Lung-cleansing and relaxing powerhouses like eucalyptus and mullein put calm a cough and help make it productive while thyme can kill a nasty bacterial infection.
Revitalizing Recovery. This one focused on the bees. They’re the best source for immune boosting so we added propolis and pollen to this blend along with the stimulating echinacea—a daily spoonful and we’re safe from those nasty bacterial infections all through the year.
A note from Dieter, Naturopath and Sanandi’s Founder
When I’m seeing clients, I use honey for patients who are weak, depressed, have digestive problems (especially acid-reflux), and all people over age of 50 (anti–sclerotic).
The way I prescribe it like this:
Take a tablespoon of raw honey in warm water (never above 104F) with little bit of lemon and a pinch of cinnamon two times a day on empty stomach.
I recommend this to be done for 35 days to see improvements in overall health, especially the immune system.
Do you have a favorite honey recipe? Tell us about it in the comments!