The Health Benefits of Honey – Part 2.
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of honey as a therapeutic agent in ancient times. The Greek physician Hippocrates, renowned as the father of modern medicine, used honey to treat a disparate variety of conditions including dehydration, pain and ulcers. Similarly, honey has been an integral component of cosmetics and beauty treatments since the dawn of civilization. In 5000 BC, Greek women used honey as part of their regular skincare regime in facemasks and body scrubs. The Sumerians also employed honey for skincare, while the early Egyptians used it as an ingredient for eye cosmetics, and Cleopatra added honey to milk baths to keep her skin young and supple. Nero’s wife, Poppaea Sabina, also combined milk and honey in a facewash, while ladies in the Emperor’s Court of China during the Ming Dynasty used a preparation of honey and crushed orange seeds to maintain a clear complexion. Part of the attraction was inevitably that honey was a wholly natural product that never spoilt.
Should Honey Form Part of Your Skincare Regime?
Today, a wide variety of commercially available cosmetics and topical applications including lip balms, cleansers, creams, after sun lotions, shampoos and conditioners contain honey. But is it effective, and how does it work?
The powerful anti-microbial properties of honey have been well documented, and are valuable in the management of infections, wounds and burns. Dermatological applications also include the treatment of psoriasis, tinea, dandruff and nappy rash, and there is mounting evidence to support the effectiveness of honey as a remedy for a variety of skin conditions. In general terms, honey acts as a topical cleanser and disinfectant. But honey has a variety of other properties that contribute to its importance as a cosmetic ingredient that assists to maintain youthful and healthy skin.
Honey is loaded with powerful antioxidants including extremely high concentrations of pinocembrin and retards the formation of wrinkles. In fact, the application of honey alone has been deemed to be more effective that expensive anti-wrinkle creams!
As a Moisturiser.
Honey is a hygroscopic substance and also acts as a humectant; attracting and absorbing moisture from the surrounding environment and then trapping it against the skin. A simple, natural moisturiser can be produced by mixing one part honey to three parts of coconut oil.
For Sensitive Skin and to Relieve Acne.
Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties that serve to sooth sensitive skin if used in a dilute solution. These combine with anti-bacterial factors to reduce the swelling and infection
of pimples and relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema. A useful lotion can be prepared using tea tree oil and neem extract.
As an Exfoliant.
The organic acids present in honey facilitate the shed of dead skin cells without hard scrubbing, giving a more uniform, youthful complexion. Mix equal amounts of honey and ground almonds or oats; apply to wet skin and rub gently in a circular fashion.
In addition to the ability to hasten healing of cuts, burns and abrasions previously noted, honey can also create a protective barrier on the skin and help prevent sun damage as well as regulate pH.
So, it’s a powerful anti-ageing tool; a natural healing agent; a soothing moisturiser; and an efficient exfoliant. Honey has been called a ‘must try ingredient for skin care’ and is recommended for parched, cracked, patchy and pimply skin. Wow, Cleopatra really knew something about skincare!
Remember that only raw honey – the kind you purchase direct from the beekeeper – can confer optimal health benefits, as commercial processing will denature valuable vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients.