A Honey Of A Cure!

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I love honey- and it's good for us too!

I love honey- and it’s good for us too!

I have mentioned my love of honey in previous posts. I use honey in my tea and coffee, and I use it in place of sugar in most everything. It’s my sweet go-to every time! However, did you know that honey can actually be used as medicine?! Yes, indeedy! Today I wanted to expand on that to discuss the medicinal uses of honey, in particular Manuka honey. Now, honey has been used since ancient times to treat many different conditions. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, and is even thought to stimulate production of special cells in our body that can repair tissue damaged by infection- pretty cool! However, not all honey is created equally, so to speak, and the type of honey that you use matters. The honey thought to be the best for medicinal use is Manuka honey. It is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush.

Picture of Manuka bush!

Picture of Manuka bush!

Now here’s the thing, the reason Manuka honey is thought to have more antiviral and antibacterial properties than other types of honey is the higher levels of Methylglyoxal than regular honey has. What is Methylglyoxal (known as MG), you ask? Good question, I asked the same thing! It comes from the conversion of another compound- dihydroxyacetone- that is found in high concentration in the nectar of Manuka flowers. So the higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect, and Manuka honey has the highest MG amount of any type of honey. Some Manuka honey that you buy in the stores doesn’t have a high level of MG, I call that “cheater Manuka honey”,  so honey producers developed a rating system called UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. To be therapeutic, it has to be rated at least 10 UMF and then is marketed as “UMF Manuka Honey”, or “Active Manuka Honey”. Whew, I threw a lot of terms at you there but I’m done with that so keep on reading for the good stuff!

The kind of Manuka honey I currently have in my cabinet!

The kind of Manuka honey I currently have in my cabinet!

So what are Manuka honey’s medicinal uses? Because it has antiviral and antibacterial properties its primary use is on wounds. It is very effective at healing wounds and cuts. BUT MAKE SURE IF YOU USE IT ON YOUR WOUNDS THAT IT IS IN A STERILIZED CONTAINER AND IT IS NOT USED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE. In other words, don’t put a spoonful of it in your morning coffee, and then dip out of the same container to slather it on a cut.

 

Manuka honey is primarily used in my house for cold symptoms.

Manuka honey is primarily used in my house for cold symptoms.

Other medicinal uses for Manuka honey are treating and preventing cancer (!), reducing systemic inflammation, treating diabetes, treating eye, ear and sinus infections, preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease, and treating gastrointestinal problems.Wow, that’s quite a powerful medicine! The way we use it in my house for the most part is for treating cold symptoms. When anyone feels a cold coming on I get out the Manuka honey and give them a teaspoon three times a day. It can sometimes even stave off the cold from coming on entirely. If I do actually catch a cold which is very seldom, Manuka honey is so effective in reducing sore throats and coughs. I will take a teaspoon of it, let it melt in my mouth and trickle down my throat. it really soothes the pain of a sore throat and calms my cough. It also is very helpful if I have some gastrointestinal upset. I do the same thing, one teaspoon three times a day and my stomach pain is eliminated. It’s really so amazing!

Manuka honey can be purchased at healthy food grocery stores anywhere and though it’s a bit pricey ($15- $20), a jar lasts for at least 2 months so it’s totally worth it. In fact, Jacqueline called on Wednesday because she caught a cold at school and she went to a health food store to get Manuka honey! I was so proud! She got other healthy cold symptom reducers and now she’s fine! That’s $15 well spent!

Even diabetics can use Manuka honey medicinally because honey does not as quickly raise blood sugar levels as sugar does. However, you should always consult your doctor before using Manuka honey if you are diabetic because everyone is different and I don’t want anyone to get sick on something that should make you feel better!

So, that’s a bit of information about Manuka honey which I think is one of the best natural, healthy weapons in my medical arsenal. I’d love it if you’d buy a jar, take three teaspoons a day, and let me know what you think. Manuka honey is one of the things that I really believe in so try it because it will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

 

Sugar- the new cigarette?!

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True!

True!

Sugar (and artificial sweeteners aka “fake sugar”) is in my opinion the worst thing in the American diet. Sugar, which exists in almost every processed food in some form, leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, rotten teeth, promotes weight gain, is highly addictive, raises your cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, and it can give you cancer. This sounds very dramatic, but all of these things are true and as Americans I feel we aren’t being informed about how terrible sugar is for us. This might have something to do with the food industry and how they monetarily support our government- politics of course.

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The point is that sugar is dangerous and I made the decision years ago to eat as little sugar and processed foods as possible. When I made this decision I didn’t even know how bad sugar was for me, I just knew that when I ate sugar I felt shaky and weak, especially with regard to my chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. They were worse when I consumed sugar so I stayed away from it as much as possible. In the past 10 years I have continued to cut more sugar from my diet and now when I eat sugary things I think they’re too sweet and I don’t like the taste at all.

When I’m craving chocolate, I eat dark chocolate and have grown to love the stronger flavor than milk chocolate, which is mostly sugar anyway. When I’m craving something sweet, I will have a handful of grapes, a clementine, a banana, or some other fruit. I have found that I cannot drink fruit juice anymore because it gives me the same shaky feeling I have when eating dessert.

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Regarding “fake sugars”, I have as much concern about them as I do about real sugar. I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay away from real sugar and then put toxic chemicals in my body, so I just don’t eat sugar, real or fake, very much at all. However, I have heard good things about the natural, plant based sweetener, Stevia, which can help lower blood pressure and ease stomach problems as well as being a natural sweetener. That is promising. Also Xylitol is another sweetener that seems to have some benefits as well. It naturally occurs in fruit and in our own bodies. It is a sugar alcohol and as such has a lower glycemic response than sucrose or glucose. In addition, it helps prevent gum disease. Wow a sweetener that’s actually good for your teeth!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

If I have to use a sweetener it is usually honey or agave nectar. Honey has anti-viral and antibacterial properties in addition to being a natural sweetener, and I always make sure I’m using locally produced honey as well so I can ensure its quality. Agave nectar is a sweetener used by the Aztecs for thousands of years. It’s from the Agave plant, the same plant used to produce tequila and it has a low glycemic index so it does not raise blood sugar. it has a long history as a miracle plant used to cure various diseases

My conclusion about sugar is that if you have to have sweetener, use Stevia or Xylitol, but in general I try to do without it. I will sometimes use a spoonful of honey or agave nectar as well if I have to have something sweetened but usually I find it better for me to do without. After all, I’m sweet enough as it is!! 🙂