Just a spoon full of sugar helps the … wait, scratch that … just a spoonful of honey and that is the medicine. As it turns out, according to Mary Blue of Farmacy Herbs in Providence, RI, honey has medicinal value.
“It’s super antibacterial,” says Blue. “The bees pollinate local plants, collecting pollen and all sorts of chemical constituents from them. Those constituents are medicinal, and it’s all going into the honey.”
According to Blue, just two to three teaspoons of local honey a day can ward off seasonal allergies. “Bees pollinate the local plants that [people are] allergic to, so you’re getting a little bit of that plant matter in the honey. Then your body creates the antibodies it needs to develop a resistance to those allergens.”
Honey is also anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for sore throats and respiratory issues, and it can be used topically for cuts and scrapes. “Sometimes people use it cosmetically as a honey face mask. It’s antibacterial and very moisturizing for your skin,” she says.
You can use honey in different preparations. “If you have a sore throat, you can have a little bit of honey in water with lemon or some herbal tea.” Farmacy Herbs also makes a honey salve with beeswax and calendula oil for topical use. Honey infusions with herbs and other plant matter are also possible. “We’ll do a peppermint honey or a rose honey – that’s really, really tasty.”
Blue says honey has a long history of human use. “It’s been around forever – I think they found honey in the graves of the Egyptians and it hasn’t gone bad, which is amazing,” says Blue, also noting that there are cave drawings depicting humans going into hives.
It’s important, Blue stresses, to use local honey from a reliable source. “You want those local plants that the bees are pollinating to be in the honey so that your body creates the antibodies it needs.” Several larger honey companies have been found to have high levels of pesticides and sometimes are adulterated with simple syrup. So local honey, where you know the source, is best.
The honey season this year has yet to gear up so you currently won’t find honey on Farmacy’s shelves, but the bees will be back to work as soon as the flowers start blooming. Honey should be back in stock in early May. Then you can go stock up and start using honey in one of Blue’s favorite ways: with chocolate!
“I like making little truffles. I’ll use cocoa powder, honey, a couple of different kinds of herbs, nuts and coconut and I roll them up into little truffle balls,” says Blue.
Sounds like sweet medicine to me.