The humble honey bee not only brings us nutrient-dense nutrition in a delicious golden liquid, this gift of honey is also a powerful medicine with innumerable uses. Watching honey bees travel from flower to flower in our garden outside out of Hummingbird storefront and warehouse, I am in awe of these little pollinators with whom our lives are inextricably linked.
Many fruits, nuts, and vegetables require pollination by honey bees and other insects in order to yield fruit, and without pollinators these crops would not exist. Honey bees carry loads of pollen back to their hives to be made into honey—food storage for the winter. They spend thousands of hours collecting pollen from around 2 million flowers to make one pound of pure honey. The honey is made by utilizing an enzyme they secrete to mix with the nectar in a honeycomb. Over time, the water in the nectar reduces and turns into honey. Amazing!
At Hummingbird, we have chosen to sell only RAW pure unfiltered unadulterated honey. We procure most of our honey from Local Oregon Beekeepers with whom we’ve had relationships with for decades. Whereas, most of the honey consumed today is processed honey that’s been heated and filtered after it was gathered from the hive. Unlike processed honey, raw honey retains its incredible nutritional value and healing powers.
On a cold and wet winter day, what could be more soothing than a cup of hot tea with honey. There are so many benefits of honey, I think of it as liquid gold superfood medicine. If you consider how many ways honey has been used traditionally in all cultures all over the world. It seems honey can be helpful for just about any ailment.
Raw honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals, and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. The nutraceuticals contained in honey have been shown to help neutralize damaging free radical activity.
One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, yet it has a healthy glycemic load around 10 for one tablespoon, which is a little less than a banana. Raw honey does not cause a sugar spike and elevated insulin release like white sugar.
Honey comes in many varieties with different flavors depending on where the honey bees collected their pollen. The darker the honey color, the stronger its flavor, and the higher its nutrients and antioxidants. Buckwheat honey is among the most nutrient-rich honey and has been found to be an effective cough suppressant. It is very dark and has a strong molasses flavor. Some people like it, some don't. Our daughter Azara used to eat it by the spoonful when she was little. I prefer to mix it half and half with milder varietals for the best flavor & nutrient combo.
Raw honey can help with everything from low energy to sleep problems to seasonal allergies. It may even help weight-loss if one can substitute honey for other kinds of sugar. There are many ways to prepare honey in healing remedies, besides just adding it to your medicinal tea.
Herb-infused or citrus-infused honeys are especially wonderful for sore throats, cases of flu, and coughs. Thyme, bee balm, rosemary, sage, oregano, garlic, and ginger are all antimicrobial herbs that, when combined with honey, can soothe a sore throat as well as inhibit pathogens. Elderberry honey naturally improves sinus issues, nerve pain, inflammation, chronic fatigue, allergies, and constipation.
Try adding the following to steep in honey for 2-4 weeks, then strain and enjoy the fresh flavors. Citrus—lemons, limes, oranges, and clementines, Herbs—fresh rosemary and mint, Spices—ginger (fresh or dried/ground), whole cloves, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom.
Fire cider is a traditional immune-supporting remedy with deep roots in folk medicine. It is a zesty infused vinegar, packed with powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and circulatory herbs. The addition of hot peppers and some local honey makes it both spicy and sweet, hence the name.
Fire cider can be used in many ways—as a defense against cold and flu pathogens, at the first sign of cold symptoms, and as a decongestant and expectorant when the cold has set in. Not only an immune tonic, but fire cider also stimulates digestion and helps move circulation throughout the body and to the periphery (which helps keep us warm on cold winter days!). It is good to sip a shot glass a day of this throughout the winter months.
Our favorite family recipes for winter:Fire Cider (to ward off colds and flu)
- 1 large horseradish root, about 7 inches long
- 1 large ginger root about 7 inches long
- turmeric root pieces, equivalent to 7 inches long
- 1 large onion root chopped
- 1 large unpeeled orange. Use the whole fruit
- 1 unpeeled lemon. Use the whole fruit
- 16 cloves of garlic peeled
- 2-4 habanero peppers, stems removed
- raw apple cider vinegar
- raw honey
Grate roots, chop other ingredients, then place all ingredients except honey in a ½ gallon canning jar, cover with Raw apple cider vinegar. Put the lid on and store it in a cool location for 4 weeks. Then strain and add honey. Enjoy all winter.
Delicious and nourishing Ginger, Lemon, Honey Tea
Chop into small pieces 4 inches of fresh ginger. Blend in a little bit of water to cover it in a blender at high speed. Add fresh lemon juice of 1 or 2 lemons. Finally, add 2-4 Tbsp of your favorite honey and blend for 30 seconds. Pour into a canning jar and add boiling water. We use a half-gallon size canning jar. Enjoy on any cold day, or drink to soothe your throat or relieve a cough.
Use honey on pancakes rather than maple syrup. We like yogurt and honey on our pancakes.
Check out these traditional and some surprising ways to use Raw Honey
- Relieve sore throat and cough – Using honey for sore throats and coughs is a wonderful remedy. You can enjoy one teaspoon of honey on a spoon or add it to tea with lemon.
- Improve digestion – Take one to 2 tablespoons of honey to counteract indigestion since it doesn’t ferment in the stomach.
- Relieve nausea – Mix honey with ginger and lemon juice to help counteract nausea.
- Improve diabetes – Consumption of raw honey can reduce your risk of developing diabetes and even be used to treat diabetes. Raw honey increases insulin and decreases hyperglycemia. Add a little at a time to your diet and see how your blood sugar reacts.
- Lower cholesterol – Honey can help decrease cholesterol and, therefore, decrease your risk for coronary artery disease.
- Improve circulation – Raw honey makes your brain function optimally by strengthening the heart and improving blood circulation.
- Antioxidant support – Consumption of raw honey increases plaque and free-radical fighting antioxidants.
- Restore sleep – Raw honey promotes restorative sleep. Add a tablespoon to warm milk to help increase melatonin and help you sleep.
- Natural energy source - Raw honey contains natural sugars (80 percent), water (18 percent), and minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein (2 percent). Many consider it to be the perfect fuel for exercise. It provides an easily absorbed supply of energy in the form of liver glycogen, making it ideal for energizing your morning, and as a pre- and post-exercise energy source.
- Prebiotic support – Raw honey is full of natural prebiotics that promote the growth of good bacteria in the intestine.
- Improve allergies – Many seasonal allergy sufferers have found local, raw honey to be helpful because it desensitizes them to the fauna triggering their allergic reaction. Add one to 2 tablespoons to your diet daily.
- Urinary tract infections – Honey can help improve urinary tract infections due to its antibacterial properties.
- Lose weight – Substituting raw honey for white sugar can help in weight management.
- Eczema relief – Use honey as a topical mixture along with equal parts cinnamon to relieve mild eczema.
- Reduce inflammation – Raw honey has anti-inflammatory agents that can treat respiratory conditions such as asthma.
- Heal wounds – Raw honey used topically can decrease healing time for mild burns, wounds, rashes, and abrasions.
- Shampoo – Raw honey can cleanse and restore the health of your hair and scalp. Add warm water to 3 tsp honey, shake and use to wash your hair, to leave your hair smooth and silky.
- Acne cure – Honey can be used as a face cleanser to clear up acne, and it’s gentle on all skin types. Take half a teaspoon of honey, warm it between your hands and spread it on your face gently. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water and pat dry.
- Exfoliator – Honey makes a great exfoliator! Use honey on dry winter skin by adding two cups of honey to a bath, soak for 15 minutes, then add one cup of baking soda for the final 15 minutes.
- Moisturize – A spoonful of raw honey mixed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon can be used as a hydrating lotion.
No doubt there are endless ways to use this incredible gift from the honey bee. You can choose different varieties of honey to make your very own nourishing, medicinal and delicious remedies. We sell 15 different varieties with unbelievable flavors and colors to choose from. You can taste each one and pick your favorite!
Next time you visit the Hummingbird Storefront, check out our Warre Beehive in our lovely garden. Warre beehives replicate how bees make their hives in nature from the top down. They require very little maintenance and do not disturb the bees as much as conventional hive systems. At Hummingbird, we are interested in protecting these miracles of nature for our future generations. May your life be filled with sweet honey!
Written by Julie Tilt, Co-Owner, Hummingbird Wholesale. Julie now works at Julie Tilt Health Coaching.