Human beings have been harvesting wild honey from bee nests for thousands of years. While it was primarily used for its rich nutritional value (and great taste!), many cultures used honey as a means of treating wounds and burns. However, it has only been fairly recently that medical science has begun to identify the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of this natural wonder. Honey contains a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide and is acidic in nature, which creates an environment in which bacteria cannot flourish. In addition, honey is made mostly of two monosaccharides, which are sugars that attract water. This reduces the water content available to any bacteria, inhibiting their growth. Honey is also non-toxic and has no side-effects, though it is not recommended for infants less than one year old.
Acne is caused when the oil glands in the skin get blocked by debris or dead skin cells. This traps the skin’s natural oil (sebum) and becomes the breeding ground for bacteria. Once an oil gland is infected with bacteria, it can lead to disfiguring blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. The antibacterial properties of natural honey can help to destroy the bacterial infection inside pimples and protect the surrounding skin. Many home remedies include honey in skin care regimes, to help with exfoliation and cleansing of debris and dead skin cells. This can be very useful in preventing further outbreaks of acne and pimples.
Honey also contains some antioxidants, which help to maintain fresh, glowing skin by removing harmful free radicals. Skin also suffers from the effects of sunlight, which can speed up the appearance of skin wrinkles and age spots. These are discolorations are patches of dark skin that are formed as the skin begins to age and dry. The presence of honey in natural skin care products protects the skin from such damage. The ability of honey to attract and hold water also helps in cases where intensive skin moisturizing is required. This helps out people who have dry skin or certain skin ailments such as dermatitis or eczema. In such cases, honey can be applied directly over areas of dry skin for short periods of time, or added to lukewarm bath water. People suffering from chapped lips can also use honey-based products for long-lasting protection and moisturizing effects. In fact, medical science has yet to uncover the full potential of honey. Already, research is being conducts on the effect of ‘royal jelly’, which is the substance used by bees to feed their larvae, on human cancer.