Thoughts on honey.

JodieDownUnder
JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin
edited November 2020 in Making Herbal Medicine

I'm in a very lucky situation where a local beekeeper has some of his hives on our property and in return we get as much honey as we need. The thought of using that honey, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside and very grateful we have extra bees around to pollinate.

So on my health quest, I eliminate all processed sugar out of our diet. I use honey a lot, in cake and muffin recipes with fruit, to sweeten oatmeal, tea, salad dressing etc. Am I having myself on thinking honey is the most natural sweetener, where in fact it just breaks down in the body like white sugar! I have not done the conquering sugar course on the TGN Honors Lab as I don't consider myself a sugar craver. I thought I was just using honey as a healthy alternative. Thoughts please.

Comments

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,456 admin
    edited May 2020

    I'm no scientist. But, I wouldn't hesitate to use honey. Honey has been has been part of the human diet from the beginning. If we have not adapted to using it over the history of humanity.... well then, we probably haven't adapted to anything. I don't have an issue with sugar - I don't crave it or eat much at all.. and 99% of what I eat is from scratch, so I know what I'm eating. I would rather have honey or molasses, anyway. There is an awful lot to worry about in life... I may be wrong, but I definitely do not think honey is one.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    I think the TGN Conquering Sugar course is worthwhile, even if you don't consider yourself a sugar craver or don't plan on following the detox program that is part of the course. There is lots of good information in there.

    All of the more natural sugar substitutes (honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, etc.) do act just like sugar and breakdown into glucose in the body. It depends how high they are on the glycemic scale as to how much they will affect you. Following is a link to a glycemic scale index. It shows honey at a 50 but I have seen other charts with honey listed as high as 75 and maple syrup as high as 65. I guess it depends on what the bees have been feeding on or how concentrated the maple syrup is. But there are bee keepers on the forum that are much more knowledgeable and could probably answer that question much better than I can.

    http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/glycemic-index-for-sweeteners.html

    Honey needs to be raw or slightly warmed to be of health benefit. Heating it up as in baking, would destroy some of the natural enzymes and nutrients that contribute to honey's natural goodness. But it is still much better than highly processed white sugar. I like a bit of honey in my salad dressings and sometimes add it to tea. Other than sometimes using it in muffins, I don't have much experience baking with honey.

  • DebiB
    DebiB Posts: 92 ✭✭✭

    Honey is much better for you than white sugar, there are micronutrients, the pollen can help with allergies, you don’t have to use as much honey as sugar in recipes. But it still breaks down in your body like sugar, maybe a little slower than white sugar but not by much. My 2cents, for what it’s worth, is to use natural sweeteners like honey in moderation instead of using white sugar.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    I don't have any studies to back up my claims, but I do seem to feel better using less refined sweeteners like honey, rapadura, or coconut sugar, in moderation. I have been totally sweetener free(when doing keto) and I did not feel any better or weigh any less. Some people are sensitive to any concentrated sweeteners, but if you're not- why not enjoy your honey?

    For the record, I'm not against studies or knowing the science behind nutrition at all. I think we are all individuals nutritionally and it's difficult to get a full picture.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Some of the old nurses I worked with back in my youth swore by honey as a dressing for hard to heal wounds. They said it was because honey has all sorts of good things in it, including the ability to fight infections. (We also would pack bed sores with white sugar and Betadine solution - and it often worked!)

    I believe honey has to be healthier than a lot of other sweeteners. And I believe that we should allow ourselves a bit of sweetness when we want to. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and a little honey (or maple syrup, or even sugar) ought to be OK.



  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    There are a number of active enzymes present in raw honey that are denatured when it is heated or used in cooking. I have been taught the enzymes start to denature at 105 F and that a food can be considered raw if it is not heated above 139 F ,meaning many "raw" honeys no longer have active enzymes. Most raw honeys will eventually crystallize, but the crystals are very small. If you honey crystallizes with larger crystals and can't easily be spread with a knife, odds are very high it as cooked, even if it was labeled raw.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Have you thought about making mead? I've never had it but hear it is has lots of health benefits.

    My daughter uses it to heal all kinds of skin irritation and injury. It's amazing to see the pictures she sends showing before and after application.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes @Lynda honey is great for healing wounds, burns and skin irritations. Especially raw honey that still has the active enzymes. Speeds healing and stops infections.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    @Lynda and @jodienancarrow Great idea to make mead with excess honey! There is a meadery/winery just outside of Vancouver that makes both mead and honey wine. I bought a bottle of the honey wine when we visited. Really nice.

    There have been other threads about wine making but maybe we could get someone to start a thread on mead making (or honey wine). Has anyone made mead before?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin
    edited May 2020

    There are many good comments on honey here. My brothers & nephew did beekeeping, and we were good friends with a family whose main income is still beekeeping/developing queens, etc. We would like to have bees where we live, but we are concerned that the sprays here would kill them off. Here is what I am aware of:

    Any raw honey heals wounds very well. We have used it on many birds' wounds (even very deep and gory ones) with great results.

    The heat of baking kills enzymes & changes the honey into a high fructose like substance. It is best not used in baking or high heat cooking, as heat changes everything.

    Our bodies crave. Craving is meant to satisfy the nutrients that our bodies need rather than just the sugar component. Raw honey contains many important micronutrients and so is not empty. If a natural sugar is used (with nutrients intact) your body should be satisfied with less. If the nutrients aren't there, you will eat more as your body tries to get those elusive nutrients.

    Crystal size in honey is determined by temperature and small crystal are consistent usually if it has been seeded. I have had honey that had fine crystals without having been seeded (all conditions were perfect), but it isn't common to find that. Seeding is done to introduce a certain tiny crystal size to create uniform crystals throughout the honey. If they are fine crystals (known as creamed), it will have been seeded with a percentage ratio of 1 creamed:10 unseeded raw, simply stirred to mix, to introduce the correct crystal size, ideally when fresh (still runny, with no crystals yet forming), & then stored at the correct temperature for a few weeks. Heating is not necessary in this process at all, although low heat can be used.

    I have read that some keepers heat their honey (too high!) before creaming, which ruins the nutritional value. However, this can give a more consistent crystal. It reminds me of making cheese...to pasteurize or not.

    I have done raw seeded honey in the past with great success. I know of one beekeeper that has his super smooth. It is a delight to eat. Naturally stored honey will usually develop larger crystals, not have the smooth texture, & the honey will become very hard...thus the reasoning behind creaming honey. Some honeys crystallize faster than others if left to their natural state.

    I learned about creaming honey properly from a local beekeeper & a NZ beekeeping site. I can no longer find it online, but it was a very good article.

    I talked with a beekeeper, in another province, whose husband had diabetes. He could eat quite a bit of honey that their bees produced, but not others' honey. They did not feed their bees sugar syrups, which will leave some residues in the honey. Of course, this contamination is worse in spring/early summer. This inclusion made a huge difference to whether he could eat honey or have to avoid it completely as the honey did absorb differently than the sugar syrup tainted honey. Of course, this was not a scientific study, but was their own observation through experimentation.

    Some store bought honey is adulterated. You are fortunate to have a local keeper who can sell raw honey to you.

    Personally, I don't mind a little honey, but I find it gets sweet way too fast. I have also noted that some honey does seem to be sweeter than others. Clover is the most available. It might be worth checking into a variety of honey from specific flower sources (clover, borage, buckwheat, sunflower, wildflower, etc.) to see what best suits what you want. I don't know how to properly check the glycemic index of individual/regional honey. It may cost more for the specific honeys, as it is more work for the beekeeper.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    Well, that got long. Sorry about that. 🙄

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,632 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning Your knowledge on such a wide variety of subjects is amazing! You certainly chose the right forum name.

    I have access to a honey store (my sister-in-law lives close to them), where they sell a wide variety of named honeys (clover, buckwheat, fireweed, etc.). I will ask if they have different glycemic indexes for their individual honeys.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin
    edited May 2020

    @torey If only that could be translated into income. I'd probably be rich, or at least living well.

    When I read, it is usually for information. Travel, anything heritage farming & skills (but not so much old farm equipment...my husband has that totally covered), now herbs, and more. I wish that I could remember it all.

    My thoughts are that it is important to always take in solid information (not trivial, useless facts) and weigh it for truth & usefulness. Dive into any subject that interests you deeply & exhaust it. My belief was supported at one point in a talk given by a former nuclear scientist/university professor/homeschool curriculum designer whom I respect. To succeed in university, he said, do this. I think to do a good job of mastering any subject(not just university), this is important. A great herbalist knows how to do this.

    I believe that if you quit learning, you start dying. Never stop learning. Learn something new every day.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    Thanks and gratitude to all for your thoughts and info. I have a proud heritage around beekeeping and honey. My ancestors were the first successful beekeepers in my state back in the 1900's. I have memories of my pop bringing my family 50lb tins to keep us in honey for the year! Unfortunately I haven't taken up the family tradition, although the beekeeper who has his bees on our property has offered for me to tag along with him and learn some new skills and I plan on doing that. The honey that we receive is uncapped from the frames, spun, strained and bottled. No heat, no seeding, pure and natural and thats why I have chosen to use it. I have also used honey to help heal wounds on myself, horses, dogs and cats. Apparently Manuka honey, with its high anti bacterial properties, is best for healing wounds or any skin conditions, (derived from a particular tea tree, Leptospermum scoparium, native to Australia and New Zealand )

    I have formed the opinion that too much sugar in the diet leads to other health issues, namely it feeds cancer, hence my original question. As you can see it's only now that I have questioned my use. I've always rated it as the most pure and natural food on this earth.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow there is so much information here! I had not realized that raw honey could be heated to such high temperatures, had not heard of creaming honey either. I was always told if your honey crystallizes it’s real honey. If it doesn’t then it is fake honey or more corn syrup than honey. If I understand this correctly, the smaller the crystals the better because it was heated less. I love to buy local raw honey whenever possible, but never thought to ask how hot they get it when processing's and bottling it. Thanks again for all the information!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @jodienancarrow From what I understand, the study with the information on sugar feeding cancer was flawed. All of your body's cells need a bit of sugar to grow & reproduce. Of course, they don't need an overabundance & you would not want your sugar source to be void of nutrients. You want a source that is pure & very unprocessed.

    I think if you choose your source wisely and don't overdo your consumption, and balance it with other whole, healthy foods, you should do just fine.

  • Melinda
    Melinda Posts: 123 ✭✭✭

    Honey is much better than processed white sugar in my books.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    My Linden (Basswood) honey naturally creams itself fairly quickly and I never seed it. I was told the little bit of pollen that is in the honey from the way I harvest it creates the necessary seeding. I do topbar style of beekeeping and strain the honey since I don't have frames to put in the spinner

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @tomandcara This is the style that we would like to do if we could move to a less sprayed area. It sounds like a very bee-friendly method and fits our way of thinking very well.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Been doing topbar beekeeping over 20 years now. Love it . Hope you are able to move to a less sprayed area for your own health and safety

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @tomandcara I will have to remember that you are doing this and ask you questions when we begin. Experience is the greatest teacher.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I will be happy to share some of the things I have learned through the years of keeping bees and my opinions. Are there any beekeepers in your area now? What type of spraying goes on around you and what are the ag crops? I remember years ago living in the country was healthy. Since the chemical revolution has taken over agriculture that is so different. I am hopeful and prayerful the organic/ biodynamic/ sustainable revolution will be as successful in changing the ag world.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @tomandcara That would be great!

    There are few beekeepers here. There used to be more. I know of 2 semi-locally.

    I don't know the specifics of the sprays (names) of course, but there are certainly increasingly harsh pesticides & herbicides here, with conventional farmers spraying in the wind (not legal), causing bad drift, and sometimes with booms so high you can walk under them with ease. These farmers are still convinced that the majority of these sprays are not harmful to humans. One sprayed right close to our yard once was such that if an animal walked into the field (for quite some time after application), that it would die almost immediately...so the farmer told us (tie up the dog, don't let the kids go into the field). We see less good insects & birds around, and some we haven't seen for years.

    As for what is grown here, canola & wheat are the main crops grown close by. There is also corn, sunflowers, flax, oats & barley, alfalfa, soy has been developed in Canada so some grow it now too. So we have both GMO & non-GMO.

    We have a few organic farmers close by, but they don't have much land as compared to the others.

    I would like to hope that the ag world will change, but the farmers believe the marketing all too well, and they get personally offended should you mention any other type of farming. Many think it is too expensive to switch too. I can't see them changing anytime soon.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning How sad. The combination of crops tells me that you are surrounded by way too may poisons. When I was a young boy in the 50's ans 60's (born in 1953) I remember how bugs would cover the windshield and I did an insect collection from the grill of the car. Now we can drive 300 miles to/from my wife's family's cattle ranch in eastern Colorado and have very very collisions with the insects. Truly life has gotten way out of balance.

    Two of my friends used to try to keep honeybees on a small organic farm near the Denver Metro area. Both gave up because the losses due to the chemical poisoning of their haves from the surrounding conventional farms. And these are relatively small farms. Nothing like the massive farms I assume are in your area

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @tomandcara Yes, it is sad. I have come to really appreciate winter because the air is clean. It has become my favorite season.

    I worry about all of our current & future health, especially when the sprayer suddenly zips around and we are directly exposed in our yard. It has happened repeatedly. The closest farmer refuses to give us any heads up. We feel the spray as headaches, sore throats, etc...but you know, it is completely harmless. 🤨 We have no recourse, however, for various reasons. Moving, when we are able, is our best chance of escaping it.

    Whether the farm owner is small, medium or large, the mentality is the same. The modern farmers however are now mainly large landholders as farm land is too expensive now for the average person. Most bush is pushed. The farms get even larger to the west in Saskatchewan.

    I appreciate the clean air we breathed while within the Black Hills in SD. It is interesting what a difference you feel when the air is clean. This is the type of air & land we are searching for. We are wanting to be very selective, as you can see.

    One day...

  • StacyLou
    StacyLou Posts: 89 ✭✭

    Great information!

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Yes, it is so very sad. Hopefully you will be able to move to a cleaner area as soon as possible.

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