Honey ('asal) is a sweet golden syrup that comes from the natural nectar extracted from flowers by bees. It has great healing benefits and is mentioned in both the Qur'an and Prophetic Hadeeth.
"And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (men's) habitations.... there emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is a healing for people. Verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought". [Soorah Nahl: 68-69].
Also, the Messenger (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said, "There is a cure in three substances, a drink of honey..." [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (5356)].
Honey is mainly composed of fructose, glucose and water. It contains trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and can act as a prebiotic, aiding the growth of friendly bifidobacteria, thus improving gut health.
Honey is great for regulating bowel movement, as advised by the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam): Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated, "A man came to the Messenger (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) and said, 'My brother has pain in his stomach', so the Messenger (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said,'Give him honey to drink.'The man came back and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), it only increased his illness!' So the Messenger (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said, 'Give him honey to drink.' The man came back and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), it only increased his illness!' The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said 'Allaah spoke the truth and your brother's belly has lied. Go and give him honey to drink.' He went and gave him honey and was cured." [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, Book of medicine (5684), Saheeh Muslim (2217)].
Ibn al-Qayyim, in his book, "The Prophetic Medicine" explained that the reason why the man wasn't cured straight after taking the honey was due to much harmful properties in the man's stomach that needed more honey for it to be removed. [Zaad al-Ma'aad 4/35].
Ibn al-Qayyim states that the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) used to drink honey and water on an empty stomach for health preservation.
Ibn al-Qayyim classed honey as both a food and medicine. Some of the benefits of honey mentioned are that it cleanses the arteries and bowels of impurities. It can clear obstructions in the liver, kidney and bladder and is useful in the treatment of diarrhea.
Modern research has shown that honey can be effective in the treatment of colitis, cancer amongst other diseases. One study found that honey was an effective agent in inhibiting the growth of bladder cancer cells. Honey is well-known for its antibacterial and wound-healing properties and this has been proved in numerous research studies. (see references)
Some Useful Tips About Honey
- The color and flavor of the honey depend on the bee's nectar source- the blossoms. Lighter-colored honeys are milder in flavor, while darker honeys are usually stronger in flavor.
- Honey should be stored at room temperature and for no longer than six months, to keep antioxidant content high.
- If your honey crystallizes, simply place the jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve.
- Honey can be used as a substitute for granulated sugar. It is nutritionally superior to sugar and only half the amount of honey is required.
- Honey should not be given to infants under one year of age because very occasionally, honey can contain a type of bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby's intestines which causes botulism.
References for further information and reading
- Al-Waili NS. (2004, Spring). Natural honey lowers plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects: comparison with dextrose and sucrose. J Med Food. 7(1),100-107.
- Mahgoub AA, el-Medany AH, Hagar HH, Sabah DM. (2002, AprilJune). Protective effect of natural honey against acetic acid-induced colitis in rats. Trop Gastroenterol. 23(2), 82-87.
- Osuagwu RC, Oladejo OW, Imosemi 10, Aiku A, Ekpos OE, Salami AA, Oyedele 00, Akang EU. (2004, April-June). Enhanced wound contraction in fresh wounds dressed with honey in Wistar rats (Rattus Novergicus). West Aft J Med. 23(2),114-118.
- Simon A et al. Wound care with antibacterial honey (Medihoney) in pediatric hematology-oncology. Support Care cancer. 2006 Jan; 14(l):91-97.
- Swellam T et al. Antineoplastic activity of honey in an experimental bladder cancer implantation model: in vivo and in vitro studies. Int I Urol. 2003 Apr; 10(4):213-219.
- Wilkinson JM, Cavanagh HM. (2005, Spring). Antibacterial activity of 13 honeys against Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J Med Food, 8(1), 100-103.
- Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Eden OB. Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD000978.