Bees are some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth. The flying critters have been producing honey since the Cretaceous period (100 million years ago) when dinosaurs still roamed the planet. Bees are remarkably hard workers. For example, to produce one pound (454 milligrams) of honey, bees must visit two million flowers and fly over 55,000 miles (88,514 km). An average honey bee, despite its industriousness, only produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its short life span (28 to 35 days). This explains why bee colonies generally number in the tens of thousands. The speedy little fliers also travel great distances, generally within two miles of their hive. (Comparing their size to ours, that’s like us traveling 250 miles.) The bee product we’re most familiar with – honey – is a fundamental part of many cultures, whether it be in medicine, cuisine, or folklore about hungry bears. But, despite stirring it into hot tea or eating a spoonful for an energy fix, honey has many unusual or unexpected uses we don’t often hear about. We bring out these unexpected uses which range from baking to a parasite killer to its host of antibacterial and antioxidant uses. Honey is one of the most useful substances on Earth and in this list it receives its rightful place, especially as it applies to strange ways honey can be used. So pick up a comb and buzz through this list of 25 Unexpected and Unusual Uses for Honey.
Composed of mostly carbohydrates and water, honey also brings with it some vitamins and minerals. These substances help the body both absorb calcium (a necessary mineral for thought processing) and prevent cellular damage which leads to the decline of memory.
Makes baked goods more tender
Honey’s sweetness means it can be substituted in baked goods to create a more tender texture. Since honey is a humectant – it attracts and holds water molecules – cookies, cakes, pastries and more will stay softer. Since the same amount of honey is sweeter than table sugar, only substitute part of the white sugar called for with the bee food.
Due to honey’s high fructose levels, consuming a spoonful of honey or drinking a tea (even better as you’ll get much needed hydration) with honey helps your body digest alcohol more rapidly, staging off a morning hangover or helping it disappear faster.
Honey as a face scrub
Did you know honey can be used as a facial cleanser? In contrast to most facial cleansers which are pumped with chemicals, honey is natural and has antibiotic properties which clear off dead skin cells and remove bacteria and impurities from our skin. To make this unusual cleanser, mix honey with coconut oil in a 1:2 formula and use as a standard facial scrub.
Honey as an antibiotic
Honey can be dabbed onto a wound to help encourage healing and prevent bacterial growth. Tests have shown honey can contain or kill bacteria such as E. coli as Staphylococcus strains and, due to its hygroscopic nature, can act as an antibiotic when rubbed directly onto cuts or wounds. When shopping, know that the darker the honey, the stronger its antibacterial properties.
Suppresses nighttime cough
In at least two studies, honey was compared with a common on-the-market cough suppressant and antihistamine and, in both studies, was found to reduce nighttime cough better than both medicines.
As a diet aide
Here’s an unexpected use for honey that we didn’t expect! Honey can boost metabolism, which is good news for anyone on a diet looking for a little extra help. Green tea also boosts metabolism, so for a double boost turn to honey if you’re looking for a sweetener for that afternoon cuppa.
Puts insomnia to bed
For those who have trouble sleeping, turn to a bit of honey before bed. The sugars in honey releases serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, that the body converts into melatonin, an important chemical which regulates our sleep. Even more melatonin may be produced when the brain processes the honey’s tryptophan (the same chemical in turkey that makes us feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner) into the hormone.
If you have lasting scars you’re looking to make less noticeable, rub on a mixture of equal parts honey and coconut or olive oil. Cover the area with a warm washcloth for fifteen minutes to fade the color of scars.
Much research is currently underway into the effect of honey in relieving allergies. Though results are still awaited, naturopathic doctors claim the trace amounts of pollen which remain in honey can act much in the same way as a inoculation. The levels bring the body to produce antibodies which would combat a full blown allergy, leading to less discomfort and less of an allergic response.
A parasite killer
The dawn of the railroad was also a golden age for the conman. Traveling from city to city selling seemingly useful “tonics”, the conman mostly sold inert and bogus mixtures passed off as medicine before hopping the next train out of town. He must have never thought of using a honey tonic. A mixture of honey, vinegar, and water can be consumed to kill intestinal parasites.
Ayurvedic practitioners highly regard honey for its use in helping eyesight (and, in some ways, curing pink eye when applied directly with water). Mixed with carrot juice (another eyesight helper), honey is unexpectedly reputed to treat conjunctivitis, glaucoma, and exhaustion from too many hours in front of computer or television screens.
Sweetens and emulsifies Asian sauces
Many Asian sauces are based upon the balance of complex flavors such as sweet, salty, bitter, and more. When making a salad dressing, drizzle for pork, or any sauce at home, use honey in place of any sugar. Since it’s an emulsifier, honey will add sweetness while helping thicken the sauce.
Neutralizes bad breath
Honey’s antibacterial properties are also useful in taking down halitosis. This unusual use for honey sees us gargle with a mixture of one teaspoon of honey, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, and half a cup of warm water. An advantage of this method is that your breath with have the freshness of cinnamon, too.
Combats acid reflux
A study in the British Medical Journal found that honey can be useful in combating acid reflux. Before reaching for that Zantac pill, take a spoonful of honey. Coating the throat (or, as the 2002 study scientifically refers to it, the Oesophageal mucosa), honey helps soothe the throat and reduce acid reflux.
Moisturizes dry elbows and skin
Dry elbows affect millions of people, resulting in millions if not billions of dollars given to the skin care industry for moisturizers and body butters. For a more natural fix, rub honey onto your elbows, knees, and any other dry spot after a shower. Wipe the mixture off with a warm washcloth after 15 to 30 minutes to reveal moisturized skin.
Shortens the duration of diarrhea in children
Another study in the British Medical Journal finds an unusual application for honey in resolving childrens’ sickness. Though honey should not be given to infants younger than 12 months old, afterwards honey can help soothe gastroenteritis and shorten the duration of acute diarrhea.
The original Red Bull
Due to honey’s simple sugars – glucose and fructose – it directly enters the bloodstream, rather than taking time to break down like more complex sugars. The rapidly flooding of our body with energy gives a short-term boost, especially useful for marathoners and endurance athletes.
Honey doesn’t cease to amaze; in this unexpected use for honey, berries can be preserved by canning them with a 1:10 mix of honey and water. Try it with blueberries and raspberries picked in the summer for delicious winter eating.
Eases discomfort during pregnancy
Every woman experiences pain during pregnancy – it’s unavoidable. But this unusual use for honey can help relieve heartburn and morning sickness. Honey mixed with milk can help neutralize excessive stomach acid, especially useful before bed.
A homemade lip balm
Many people experience dry or chapped lips in the winter months and frequently turn to lip balms to ease the discomfort. But did you know you can make your own soothing lip balm at home? Mixing honey with beeswax, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and olive oil will keep your lips moisturized and comfortable.
If you suffer from dandruff or dry hair, rub a mixture of 90% honey to 10% warm water into your hair. Rinse three hours later, after which you should find less itching and the end of scaling within a week’s time.
Ends a bout of hiccups
Though hiccups are often associated with a mumbling drunk, they can happen to any of us at most any time. In another unexpected use for honey, eating a teaspoon of the nectar can be used to bring this inconvenient bodily response to an end.
A provision for the end of the world
If you’re worried about nuclear apocalypse – is anybody still worried about this? – then stockpile honey. Besides being calorie-dense, honey never goes bad. Honey found in the Egyptian pyramids has been heated to return it from its crystallized state to a more viscous state. It was then perfectly fine to eat.
A substitute for shaving cream
The price of shaving cream has gotten out of control. If you want to protest, do it with our final unexpected and unusual way to use honey! To make, combine honey and warm water to make a latherous shaving cream. The viscosity of honey helps prevents razor burn and helps moisturize the skin.