“Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought” (Qoran An-Nahl:69)
Honey is produced in the bee’s stomach. It produced in bee’s stomach that called honey stomach, or honey sac which sparated from its large intestine or its stomach. Inside the honey stomach decomposition of complex sugar (disaccharide) occurred being a more simple saccharide that called mono saccharide.
The chemistry process in inverting nectar to glucose and fructose (both of them are monosaccharide) occurred when invertase enzym is added while the bee’s proboscis is outwarded to enter nectar to honey stomach gradually.
In recent years, scientific support is beginning to emerge confirming the beneficial effects of honey on certain medical and surgical conditions. These effects may be summarised as follows:
Antibacterial and antifungal properties
These properties of honey are well established. Undiluted honey inhibits the growth of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, certain gut pathogens and fungi such as Candida albicans. At a concentration of 30-50%, honey has been shown to be superior to certain conventional antibiotics in treating urinary tract infections. The exact mechanism of the anti-microbial effect of honey remains obscure. Low pH, osmotic disruption of pathogens and the presence of bactericidal substances, collectively called inhibine may all play a part.
At a concentration of 40%, honey has a bactericidal effect on various gut bacteria known to cause diarrhoea and dysentery such as Salmonella, Shigella, enteropathogenic E. coli and Vibrio cholera. In one study, honey given with oral rehydration fluid was shown to reduce the duration of bacterial diarrhoea in infants and children.
Wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties
Honey is of value in treating burns, infected surgical wounds and decubitus ulcers. Honey is very viscous, enabling it to absorb water from surrounding inflamed tissue. For example, a study in West Africa showed that skin grafting, surgical debridement and even amputation were avoided when local application of honey to wound promoted healing, whereas conventional treatment failed.
In another study, wound healing was accelerated by application of honey in women who had undergone radical vulvectomy for vulval cancer. Also, it has been suggested that honey may be useful in the treatment of chronic, foul smelling ulcers seen in leprosy.
Anti-tussive and expectorant properties
These anti-cough properties of honey are related to its capacity to dilute bronchial secretions and improve the function of the bronchial epithelium.
Uncontaminated honey is a healthy, easily digestible, natural and energy rich food. It contains carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, enzymes and vitamins. One tablespoon of honey provides 60 calories and contains 11g of carbohydrates, 1mg of calcium, 0.2mg of iron, 0.lmg of vitamin B and 1mg of vitamin C.
Honey is widely available in most communities but its medical potential remains grossly underutilised. Its mode of action remains incompletely understood and the healing properties of honey in other clinical and laboratory situations requires further evaluation. The miraculous beneficial properties of honey, so beautifully ex-pressed in the holy Qur’an and Sunnah 14 centuries ago expose the reluctance of modern science to accept and exploit this ‘traditional remedy‘.
- Ali A.T.M.M. (1989) The Pharmacological Characterization and the Scientific Basis of the Hidden Miracles of Honey; Saudi Medical Journal 10(3):177-179
- Zumla A. and Lulat A. (1989) Honey- a remedy rediscovered; J Royal Soc Med 82:384-385
- Crane E. (1975) Honey: a comprehensive survey;London, Heineman
- Winston M.L. (1987) The Biology of the Honey Bee;London, Harvard University Press