(File pix) Raw honey has many health benefits. Pix from Olocalhoney.com

IF something is good and comes from a completely natural source, it’s always going to be in demand. Honey is a good example. It is known for its health benefits, given that it contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals besides certain amino acids.

It’s a powerful antioxidant and boasts anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

The ancient Egyptians actually used honey as one of their embalming fluids while the Greeks and Romans applied it to treat burns and wounds. Honey also plays a crucial role in the ancient Indian art of healing called Ayurveda.

These days, supermarkets are stocked to the brim with bottles of this delicious nectar but many consumers prefer to get it directly from the source.

They want their honey to come straight from the hive as they believe it will not be robbed of its nutritional value.

THE BUZZ WORD

Raw, unprocessed or organic are the terms consumers look out for, as such honey is viewed as a natural remedy for a range of ailments, from the common cold and cough to flu, sore throat, tonsillitis and even asthma.

Apple Kew, a 29-year-old engineer from Malacca, has been consuming raw honey for the last few years. She says she has seen a marked difference in her immune

and digestive system.

She hardly falls ill and even when she catches a cold, she is able to recover fast.

Kew also used to have problems with bloating, gas and constipation but daily consumption of raw honey has helped ease the symptoms.

However, she cautions that consumers should always know the source of their honey as there are fake products in the market.

Kew takes a teaspoon of honey mixed with water every morning. During the flu season, she doubles the dose. If she falls ill, she takes a teaspoon neat to speed up recovery.

Nicole Lim, a busy mother of two, has seen a marked difference inher energy levels since taking raw honey about a year ago.

She doesn’t feel lethargic like she used to when going about her daily chores and errands. She believes it’s far better to invest in raw honey for health than to buy bottles of supplements.

Describing raw honey as a “natural energy booster”, Lim first tried it as remedy for her daughter who suffers from nasal congestion and allergies.

“We noticed an improvement in my daughter. Pretty soon, the whole family started taking it,” she adds.

Her children, she says, fare much better these days given the boost to their immune system. They hardly fall ill, even when they come into contact with other children or are in air-conditioned environments for long periods.

Lim takes two to three spoons of honey a day while her children, aged nine and seven, consume one to two tablespoons daily.

She even makes a honey drink to keep in the car which the family can consume when they’re on the go.

“Once you’ve tasted real raw honey, you will be sceptical of anything that doesn’t meet the standards.”

HEALTH BOOST

B. Lillian started taking raw honey in early 2015 after hearing about its benefits and doing her own research on the subject Honey helped her eldest son who was frequently falling sick and she now gets her supply from a local bee farm recommended by friends and family.

Lillian believes she has a stronger immune system since consuming honey and says she rarely falls sick now.

Even when she does, she bounces back within a day or two. She usually takes one tablespoon of honey once a day or two to three times daily when she is under the weather.

“I also mix it with water to drink and sometimes drizzle it over pancakes and waffles.”

V.H Ng, another raw honey consumer, doesn’t take it daily but only when she has a sore throat or cold. She says it’s a good remedy for common ailments so her family always has a bottle in their kitchen.

Juliana Philip, a 33-year-old mother of two, says raw honey helps her 3-year-old son stay healthy.

Whenever he shows signs of coming down with a cold, she gives him raw honey and the symptoms disappear by the second day.

“Because it’s natural, I feel safe giving it to my child. Raw honey prevents the common cold from becoming full-blown and problematic.”

Juliana herself took raw honey when she had pregnancy-related rhinitis. It helped with her symptoms and she could sleep better at night. These days, she takes it regularly to boost her immune system.


HONEY AND HEALTH

GENERALLY, raw and unprocessed honey is safe for consumption for children aged one year and above as well as healthy adults who have more mature digestive systems, says Hin See Ling, a senior dietitian at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

She says the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that honey not be given to infants younger than 12 months because it may contain spores that cause botulism.

Botulism is a very rare but life threatening condition caused by toxins produced by the clostridium botulinum bacteria. However, honey can be safely fed to children one year and older who have more mature digestive systems that prevent the clostridium bacteria from surviving.

Individuals with a weakened immune system such as patients on certain cancer treatments or those undergoing stem cell transplants should also avoid raw honey if they are on a neutropenic diet.

“People with diabetes should also be cautious as honey may affect blood sugar levels.”

Hin explains that at the moment there is no conclusive evidence to confirm whether honey, if consumed regularly, boosts the immune system and prevents cough.

However, according to a study by Penn State College of Medicine in the United States, buckwheat honey reduces night time coughing and improves sleep quality in children with upper respiratory infections.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends honey (about 2-5 ml) to thin secretions and loosen cough in children 1 year and older.

Hin says there is insufficient evidence to suggest that honey can help cure certain throat and chest related ailments.


RAW AND NATURAL

KUEK Siew Phey sells raw honey obtained from her family’s bee farm in Kampung Mata Air, Pulai Chondong, Kelantan.

She says once consumers try raw honey, they will never settle for the processed version.

Her family has about 50 hives in their rural home. The bees are of the stingless “kelulut” species.

Most of their customers are from Kelantan although Kuek, who is based in the Klang Valley, sells to people in the city and in other states too.

Her brand, Liku KelulutHoney, has many repeat orders as customers like that it’s coming from a natural source.

HIVE TO BOTTLE

Kuek and her family initially used syringes to extract the honey from from their hives before injecting it into bottles for sale but they have since invested in a simple extraction machine.

“But we don’t add anything to the honey. We keep it in its original form,” she says.

The price for the honey ranges from RM30-RM180 depending on the size of the bottle.

Depending on the season and the type of flowers the bees feast on, there will be differences in the colour and texture of the honey.

Once, a batch of honey was purple as the bees had feasted on roselle flowers.

During the durian season, when the bees eat the nectar from durian flowers, the aroma and texture of the honey will also be different.

Raw honey is always in limited supply because bees do not produce honey all the time.

During the rainy season, they hibernate. They are also very sensitive to changes in and around the hive.

NATURE’S GIFT

Yeo Hui Ching, who sells raw honey sourced from Pahang under the

brand Bumble Honey, says phytonutrients are found in raw honey.

Raw, she stresses, means no artificial additives. What’s available

in supermarkets is mostly processed honey, she adds.

“Honey in its natural state has enzymes and nutrients but these are destroyed by heat especially during pasteurisation. Raw honey, on the other hand, retains all those nutrients for maximum health benefits.”

She sells between 100 - 150 bottles a month with prizes ranging from RM7 - RM52 depending on bottle size.

Customers are mainly from Malaysia but she also supplies to consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore.



NST Infographics

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE THE REAL THING?

Raw honey is very different from artificial honey which contains sugar syrups, molasses, corn syrup, dextrose and other flavours and additives.

Here are some simple home tests to check for honey purity:

THUMB TEST

1. put a small drop of honey on your thumb.

2. Check to see if it spills or spreads around.

3. If it does, it is not pure.

4. Pure honey will stay intact on your thumb.

WATER TEST

1. Fill a glass with water.

2. Add one tablespoon of honey into the glass.

3. Adulterated or artificial honey will dissolve in water and you will see it around the glass.

4. Pure honey will settle right at the bottom of the glass.

THE BREAD TEST

Spread some honey on a slice of bread. If the slice hardens in minutes, it is pure honey. Adulterated honey will wet the bread because of its water content.

* Source: www.lorebay.com and healthywithhoney.com

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