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Antibacterial properties of raw honey

Pittsboro Honey

I saw a bottle of honey at a discount store with a very low price. When I looked at the label, I realized that it was syrup and not honey. The trade name was something like Honey Bear syrup. The word "syrup" was in small letters. The ingredients were high fructose corn syrup with artificial flavorings. Always read the labels and don't buy this junk food.

Real raw honey, which consists mostly of carbohydrates, differs from syrups in that it has enzymes from the flowers and from the bees. Some of the most important honey enzymes are invertase, diastase, and glucose oxidase. The most prominent enzymes are added by the bee during the conversion of nectar to honey. In some countries, such as Germany, the specification of enzymes is a binding legal indicator that prevents the adulteration of honey. The diastase content varies according to floral source, the length of the storage period and exposure to high temperatures.

We have heard this advice since childhood: If you have a sore throat, drink some hot tea and take a spoonful of honey. Don't put the honey in the hot tea! The high temperature will degrade the enzymes, and these enzymes have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Scientists have found that the enzymes in raw honey are effective against fungi such as Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger[1,2] and against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus[3]. If you think about it, bees would not have been able to survive for millions of years without evolving a method of preserving their food from fermentation and spoilage by microorganisms.

My friend, Vladislav Oleynik, learned beekeeping (apiculture) from his father. Not too long ago, he established some hives and began a small operation called Pittsboro Honey in North Carolina. He brought me some samples of his honey when he visited me recently. What a delight!

Honey is not for everybody. Some people have allergic reactions to the components of honey. The symptoms of honey allergy may range from itching in the oral mucosa to severe systemic symptoms, and even anaphylactic shock. The proteins derived from secretions of pharyngeal and salivary glands of honeybee heads and the proteins from the pollens contained in the honey are generally the cause of allergic reactions to honey.[4]

[1] Boukraâ L, Bouchegrane S., Additive action of honey and starch against Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger, Iberoam Micol. 2007 Dec 31;24(4):309-11.

[2] Boukraâ L, Benbarek H, Ahmed M., Synergistic action of starch and honey against Aspergillus niger in correlation with Diastase Number, Mycoses. 2008 Mar 3, PMID: 18331445

[3] Kwakman PH, Van den Akker JP, Güçlü A, Aslami H, Binnekade JM, de Boer L, Boszhard L, Paulus F, Middelhoek P, te Velde AA, Vandenbroucke-Grauls CM, Schultz MJ, Zaat SA., Medical-grade honey kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria in vitro and eradicates skin colonization. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jun 1;46(11):1677-82, PMID: 18433338

[4] Bauer L, Kohlich A, Hirschwehr R, Siemann U, Ebner H, Scheiner O, Kraft D, Ebner C., Food allergy to honey: pollen or bee products? Characterization of allergenic proteins in honey by means of immunoblotting, J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1996 Jan;97(1 Pt 1):65-73. PMID: 8568139

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