January 20, 2019

View as List Honey for Your Health?

  • Honey drip

    Honey has been used for centuries as a natural healer. Ancient civilizations used it for everything from dressing wounds and treating intestinal diseases to embalming their dead. Known for its anti-bacterial properties, honey is mostly sugar and water. But it also contains about 200 different substances, including antioxidants. Does honey have a place in your medicine cabinet? Here's what science says about some of honey's most common medicinal uses, plus a primer on the different types of honey.

  • 1

    Wound Care

    Child knee with an adhesive bandage and bruise.

    There’s science to support applying honey to treat wounds. But apparently not just any honey will work. Studies show that honey made from flowers in certain regions—including from the manuka bush in New Zealand and Austraila, and from the Adamawa savannah in Cameroon—are effective in speeding healing and preventing infection in burns and some other types of wounds.

  • 2

    Allergy Relief

    Macro of honey bee eating nectar

    Can eating honey relieve seasonal allergy symptoms? Unfortunately, no. Though it’s believed that locally produced or raw honey contains pollen that may help desensitize your allergies, there’s no science to support this. There are minute amounts of pollen in honey and it comes from flowers—not the grasses and trees that trigger most allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

  • 3

    A Cure for Dandruff?

    Young woman washing hair. rear view

    Probably not. Just as the Ancient Greeks wrongly thought honey might cure baldness, some people believe honey may get rid of unsightly flakes in their hair. But little evidence supports this hope. Just one very small study has found that applying honey to the scalp every other day for four weeks, and leaving it on for three hours each time, improved scaling and itching. Dandruff shampoo is a better option.

  • 4

    Calm Your Cough

    Milk with honey 3

    Studies suggest that honey can quiet children’s coughs. In a 2015 small Italian study, giving children two teaspoons of honey with milk before bedtime quelled some coughs as well as common cough medicines. But the benefit may be due to a placebo effect. Another study found that sweet agave syrup and grape-flavored water helped just as much. Never give honey to infants less than 1 year old because of the risk of botulism.

  • 5

    Rosacea Cure


    Honey shows promise for rosacea, a facial skin disorder that can be hard to manage. A 2015 of 138 people with rosacea showed that 34 percent had significant improvement after applying medical-grade kanuka honey with glycerine for eight weeks, compared to 17 percent in a control group. Kanuka honey is related to the manuka honey used to treat wounds.

  • 6

    Memory Booster?

    Bees in a beehive on honeycomb

    One small study published in the journal Menopause in 2011, found that postmenopausal women in Malaysia who consumed tualang honey had improvements in immediate memory during the study. No improvements were seen in memory after the study ended. U.S. researchers say the study was small and poorly designed. There’s no strong evidence that honey will boost your memory.

  • 7

    Raw vs Processed Honey

    Farmers Market

    Though the USDA does not define "raw honey," the National Honey Board, an industry group, does. Raw honey has not been heated or filtered. Is it better for you? No. A 2012 study by the National Honey Board found that processed honey has the same nutrients as raw honey—and neither type is a significant source of nutrients.

  • 8

    Light vs Dark Honey

    Various types of honey

    Honey gets its flavor and hue from the nectar of different flowers visited by honeybees. And it ranges in color from pale yellow to dark amber. Is darker honey more healthful? The darker the color of honey, the more antioxidants it contains, but the levels are still low compared to fruits and vegetables. So pick whichever color of honey you prefer. 

  • 9

    Crystals in Honey

    Composition with jars of honey

    The granules in honey don’t mean it’s gone bad. It’s just the sugar that has crystallized. Return it to liquid form by gently placing the jar in boiling water. Store honey at room temperature, not in the refrigerator where crystals are more likely to form.