Updated: Jan 19
Bee honey, the sweet, golden nectar, has been used since ancient times for its therapeutic abilities. Did you know, it can be used to help you manage your daily stress levels?
What are the Health Benefits of Honey?
Honey is made mostly of sugar and it contains a mix of amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to being a natural sweetener, honey can be safely used by children (over 1 year old) and adults for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. In fact, a recent review article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that honey can be useful either alone or in combination with conventional therapies for the management of chronic diseases that are commonly associated with oxidative stress, such as metabolic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and obesity. Honey is useful in protecting the liver, lowering blood pressure, and reducing blood sugar levels to promote optimal health.
Including honey in your diet can also have positive effects on lowering stress hormone levels like cortisol, which is beneficial in protecting your gut and brain from oxidative stress. According to Harvard Health, there is a strong gut-brain connection, meaning that the brain can influence the gut and vice versa. Strong emotions like anger or anxiety can disrupt your digestive system, and conversely, digestive issues can be indicative of acute or chronic stress. Due to this strong link between gut health and mental health, a study published in the Journal of Nursing and Healthcare suggested that honey can be used as a supplement to help prevent and potentially treat mental distress and disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Keeping your gut happy and healthy with honey is a great way to keep your brain happy and healthy, too.
Finally, coping with high levels of stress and work demands can leave you feeling like you're running on empty and burnt out. As such, a recent article published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Health Science evaluated the use of bee honey in promoting recovery from an active lifestyle. They showed that honey was beneficial in reducing fatigue and improving recovery after strenuous activities like exercise, and also in increasing exercise capacity in active, aging, and diseased populations, alike. Tip: honey can be used before and after exercise or any strenuous (physical or mental) activity to boost performance and enhance recovery to prevent burnout.
How Much Honey Beats Stress?
There are over 300 varieties of honey with varying flavours, compositions, and properties, so as a simple rule of thumb, the less processed the honey, the more amino acids and antioxidants are preserved. Other honey products, like beeswax and floral pollen, also provide added health benefits.
Overall, an article published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reviewing the contributions of honey to human health showed that positive health effects were observed when adults supplemented between two and five tablespoons of honey per day, in reducing gut symptoms, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining healthy body weight. Short term positive effects could be seen within hours of consuming honey, however, longer, monthly use of honey showed increased protection and improved recovery against the side effects of oxidative stress. Tip: try substituting honey for your regular sweetener in hot beverages to help you combat high stress.
Based on the research, you could say that a few spoonfuls of honey a day keeps the stress away.
Dr. Kat's Stress Releasing Tea
2 teaspoons loose leaf chamomile tea
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup or more of hot water
Tip: Add lavender if you're looking for an extra calming effect to help with sleep.