All-Purpose Honey…

Folks, did you know that honey can be used for more than just eating? It’s true! Let’s go over a few different things you can use it for. One thing; never take me 100% serious unless I advise you to. This one is a little tongue-in-cheek. But only a little.

First, let’s imagine a purely fictional scenario that will help put some of these uses into context. Briefly:

Your name is John. The year is 2023 and you’ve been hunkered down in a typical “Fauciville” settlement just east of Talisheek, Louisiana for about 2 years. Your once successful job as an oncologist was deemed “unessential” in 2021 when the government re-categorized all cancer deaths as Covid-19 deaths. You’ve been unable to find work and unemployment numbers are no longer reported; presumably for reasons of morale. There was great hope in early summer of 2020 when virus fatalities continually declined and even the CDC revised its numbers down from 0.26%, in late May, to 0.025%, in early August, but in November, for reasons not yet clear, that number was re-defined as an “unacceptable high-risk” and the country went into a shut-down for a second time. Childhood diseases that were once rare or nonexistent flooded back as children missed their vaccinations and nutrition declined. Most people found themselves on their own as poverty expanded and income declined. Life grinds on but you manage the best you can with what you have.

There! Now with this completely imaginary and far-fetched set-up, we can use our hypothetical “John” to demonstrate some of the lesser-known uses of honey.

Wound care: (disclaimer: I am not a physician, nor do I play one on t.v. I am a simple redneck beekeeper. I am not making any medical recommendations or claims but merely passing along information from the internets that is accessible to anyone. You have your own mind and can make your own decisions).

Ain’t it a shame we have to do this stupid disclaimers? Lawyers rule the world! Anyway, to my point.

Honey has been used for thousands of years to help heal wounds of various sorts. There’s actually a lot of science to support this. I’ll quote a passage from a 2015 article in the journal Wounds titled “Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing.”

“The physical properties of honey also expedite the healing process: its acidity increases the release of oxygen from hemoglobin thereby making the wound environment less favorable for the activity of destructive proteases, and the high osmolarity of honey draws fluid out of the wound bed to create an outflow of lymph as occurs with negative pressure wound therapy.    Honey has a broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, but there is much variation in potency between different honeys.”

Manuka honey from New Zealand appears to be the really good stuff for wound care since it has some extra antimicrobial properties. It’s also expensive so probably beyond the reach of our fictional John. He might have to go with some local honey (hint hint, nudge nudge) or maybe John could be a beekeeper himself. Hell, why not? Let’s make John a beekeeper! The poor guy doesn’t have to be a complete destitute.

So, how might John go about using his honey for wounds? One dermatology site from New Zealand says the following:

All difficult to heal wounds should be seen by your doctor. The following are                               general tips on how honey may be used for wound care.

  • The amount of honey used depends on the amount of fluid exuding from the wound. Large amounts of exudate require substantial amounts of honey to be applied.
  • The frequency of dressing changes depends on how rapidly the honey is being diluted by the exudate. This should become less frequent as the honey starts to work on healing the wound.
  • Occlusive dressings help to prevent honey oozing out from the wound.
  • It is best to spread the honey on a dressing and apply this to the wound than apply the honey directly onto the wound. Dressing pads pre-impregnated with honey are commercially available and provide an effective and less messy alternative.
  • Abscesses, cavity or deep wounds need more honey to adequately penetrate deep into the wound tissues. The wound bed should be filled with honey before applying the honey dressing pad.

You’re not John (yet) so asking your doctor is a good idea. If you ever find yourself in John’s shoes,  you may not have that option. On we go.

Allergies: Man, I ain’t even going to go into this one much because some people swear by it and some people say it’s hogwash. If it works for you then who am I to argue? Same goes for if it doesn’t. You do what you want.

Coughs: I’ve personally used honey to calm a cough many times. All I can say is that it works for me. Now, it only works for a little while on a serious cough but sometimes a little relief is good enough if you’re trying to get some sleep. You obviously can’t eat honey all night unless you’re aiming for a diabetic coma but for a mild cough it seems to do the trick. The Mayo Clinic says the following:

Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant, too.

In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.

So there, if John can get his hands on some lemons to go with his honey then he’ll have himself a nice little home remedy with a little extra vitamin C!

NOTE: DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO AN INFANT! You’ll risk giving them botulism which is deadly. I’ll explain the reasons for that in a later post.

Booze: John has reasons to drink but he has no money. That might be a good thing but surely a little sip of some nice mead here and there won’t hurt. It’s all he’s got, man!

Making a basic mead is pretty simple. Making a really good mead takes some practice but some people make some good ones on their first try. There’s a ton of websites out there with recipes and detailed instructions so I’m not going to rehash it all here but I will say that you can do it on small scale without any fancy equipment. I’d recommend this episode of The Survival Podcast to get started. It’s a fun skill to have and for a person in John’s position, a useful one.

Cooking: Probably not surprising to anyone that honey can be used as a sugar replacement in cooking and baking. Now, if you’re trying to avoid sugar for health or medical reasons then you should be avoiding honey too; it’s all sugar. However, you might have other reasons why you might want to use honey instead of sugar. It tastes better for one thing. Or it might be all you have. At any rate, you need to know that it has different properties and simply swapping out a cup of sugar for a cup of honey might not be the best idea. You need to consider water content, amounts, oven temperature and all that stuff. Here’s an article that details 4 rules for replacing sugar with honey for baking. 

As for glazes and grilling, I say use your imagination. It’s hard to go wrong with a little honey glaze on some grilled meat. Just ask yourself “what would John do?”

That’s all I got today. Hope everyone is doing well. Take care! Wipe the bureaucrat off your boots before you come inside!