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HERBAL REVIEWS


HONEY - Nature's Perfect Food

TARIQ SAWANDI, M.H.

        The basic cause of disease is a lack of wholeness, which can also be described as lack of integration.  Another way of looking at it would be to identify separation of the human body as the cause of disease.  The various parts of our being are separated and hence we have the aim of bringing everything together in healing.  We could look at the cause of disease at the physical level and see that the body's biochemistry is out of balance because of our various desires for the wrong foods and the lack of different nutrients, minerals and vitamins which are needed to sustain life.  It is important to follow the laws of health in terms of rest, exercise, the right foods, and healthy thoughts.  Hence the African holistic approach to medicine covers all these aspects and attempts to produce wholeness.

    The basic tenet on which African holistic therapy rests is the promotion of vitality of the human body. The energy body (called the Sahu by the ancient Egyptians), or bio-plasmic body has three main functions: to receive energy from the sun; to assimilate and circulate it to all part of the body; and to act as the template or blueprint for all physical growth.  It also acts as the mediator, like the bridge between our higher states of consciousness and the physical brain and nervous system. Therefore, it's extremely important that the Sahu body is maintained and augmented throughout life if we are to receive the right signals, or channels via our brain and nervous system.

    All of the natural therapies, whether we are using acupuncture, herbal medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, or certain vitamins and minerals, help to restore balance within the energy body.

    Where does the honey come in?  Honey fills in any gaps that might occur in our daily food intake.  The ancient Africans of West Africa ate it daily for that reason.  West African healers had a great respect for the nutritional wisdom of the bee, which goes into the fields and selects the materials for the making of a perfect food. Honey carries within it the healing power of the divinity "Oshun". She symbolizes clarity and flowing motion; she has power to heal with cool water; she is also the divinity of fertility and feminine essence. Women appeal to her for child-bearing and for the alleviation of female disorders; she is fond of babies and is sought if a baby becomes ill. She is known for her love of honey. 

    People who know the food value of honey are more likely to eat it regularly than those whose knowledge of it is vague.  A healer who familiarizes himself with what honey can accomplish in the human body is very apt to prescribe it when rearranging a patient's daily food regimen.

    It is no mere theory but has been proven that bacteria cannot live in the presence of honey because honey is an excellent source of potassium.  The potassium withdraws from the bacteria the moisture which is essential to their very existence. 

    For ages, honey made by the bees from flower nectars was the one food of pure sweetness available to humans.  In recent years, there have been many substitutes for honey, in the form of manufactured sugars, intended to replace honey on our tables.  Honey still remains the one sweet however, offering life-giving qualities not found in any other. 

   In light of the fact that the body has mineral requirements which must be met to establish and maintain good health, let us examine the mineral content of honey.  It is important because most of us have only just begun to realize that the diet of the average African-American is distinctly lacking in needed minerals.  We habitually eat too many foodstuffs (sweets, cakes, white sugars, white flour, salt, coffee, etc.) that have been robbed of their natural mineral content through processing and are therefore devitalized when we get them.  For this reason, we need to know what mineral shortages there are in the average daily food diet and how minerals can be restored.

    Iron, copper, manganese, silica, chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, aluminum, and magnesium are all present in honey.  They are all derived from the soil in which plants grow, and are passed through the plant to the nectar which is the base substance used by bees to make honey.  Therefore, honey will vary in mineral content according to the mineral resources in the soil where its evolution starts.

    Years ago, Western nutritionists discounted the minerals in honey, on the assumption that their quantity was too small to make them important.  Now it is known, however, that numerous minerals are needed by the human body in very small amounts to keep the body in mineral balance.  Honey contains minerals, in about the right quantity, to serve the needs of the normal individual.

    As we all know, melanin is the brown or black substance which is naturally found in the skin of humans and is also contained in the soil and earth.  Melanin gives life to the plants that grow in the soil and is a life giver to humans as well.  Melanin can bind and release most elements and minerals including calcium, iron, sodium and zinc, which are essential for body metabolism.  The essential minerals such as copper, iron and manganese seem to be in larger quantity in dark honeys than in light.  From a nutritional standpoint, iron is important because of its relation to the coloring matter of the blood, or oxidized hemoglobin, which is red.  We build hemoglobin out of our food, and it has a certain ability to carry oxygen to our body tissues. Were it not for its iron content, hemoglobin would not have this property of holding oxygen.

    Copper seems to unlock the therapeutic powers of iron, in restoring the hemoglobin content of the blood in patients afflicted with anemia.  In other words, copper promotes the action of iron.

    The mineral manganese is also a valuable supplement to the diet.  It functions more or less interchangeably with copper, or as a supplement to it, aiding the formation of hemoglobin in the blood.  There is also evidence that manganese has a very specific function of its own in nutrition.  Herbalists have used it for its ability to strengthen the kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas, brain, heart, and lymph.

    What is the vitamin content of honey?  Being a perfect food of nature, it may be expected by definition to contain vitamins.  The pollen of many flowers has a higher vitamin C content than almost any fruit or vegetable.  Honey contains pollen.  Obviously, honeys with the largest amount of pollen will have more vitamin C then others.

    One of the most important facts established is somewhat surprising, namely that honey is an excellent medium for vitamins.  This is not equally true of vegetables and fruits.  For example, spinach will lose 50% of its vitamin C content within 24 hours after being picked.  Fruits lose their vitamin content to a degree during storage.  Like most foods high in sugar, honey is low in thiamine but fairly well supplied with riboflavin and nicotinic acid.  Nevertheless, honey contains all of the vitamins which nutritionists consider necessary to health.

    Honey is a welcome variation and delicious addition to the diet, and it is a builder food, packed with the things the body needs to build and rebuild itself.  It gives a quick energy release, which makes it appealing as a breakfast complement as it quickly supplies the energy needed to start the day right.  Some of the advantages of honey over other sugars are:

1. It is non-irritating to the lining of the digestive tract.

2. It is easily and rapidly assimilated.

3. It quickly furnishes the demand for energy.

4. It enables athletes and others who expand energy heavily to recuperate rapidly from exertion.

5. It is, of all sugars, handled best by the kidneys.

6. It has a natural and gentle laxative effect.

7. It has sedative value, quieting the body.

8. It is easily obtainable.

9. It is inexpensive.

    Yet for me the crowning glory of honey is its medicinal value.  Being an herbalist, I would naturally be interested in a substance, which experience, study and experimentation has convinced me, is a help in living this life literally, from the cradle to the grave.  As a medicinal, honey is good for:

1.  Calming down the nervous system.

2.  Producing sleep at night.

3.  Relieves annoying coughs.

4.  Has a laxative action which is effective, yet mild.

5.  Relieves pain in arthritis.

6.  It is antiseptic.

7.  Cures bed-wetting in children.

8.  Controls muscle cramps.

9.  Relieves burns.

10. Relieves stuffy nose.

11. Treats hay fever.

12. Relieves nasal sinusitis.

    Very interesting medicinal results are obtained by honey.  Because of the lack of space, I will not go into honey's many applications here, but will cover its healing use in future articles.

    I have assembled here some examples of conditions which I have found to be benefited by treatment with honey.

Honey and Bed-Wetting

    It may surprise some that African holistic medicine finds in honey a most efficient remedy for prevention of bed-wetting in children. When it continues after three years of age, bed-wetting at night becomes a problem.  Yet it is one of the most common conditions met with in children and is disturbing both to child and family.

    For a very long time Western doctors, when asked what could be done to prevent bed-wetting at night, have replied  that time would take care of it, the child would outgrow it.  This indicated that no definite remedy was commonly known.

    Symptoms of a habit of bed-wetting are clear-cut.  In the majority of cases there is a common characteristic of frequent passing of urine during the day.  As a rule these children are highly sensitive to stimuli such as excitement.  The majority of children are able to control their bladder during the day.  Bed-wetting generally occurs every night, usually once or twice a night.

    In carrying out an active form of treatment, we seek a therapeutic agent which combines a marked ability to attract water and hold it, with a sedative effect upon the child's body.  This treatment agent must be suitable for a long-range treatment program, and must be harmless to the child.  It must be adaptable for continual daily use, or for use when needed only at certain times. Most important of all, it must be acceptable to the child.  African holistic medicine finds these requirement are met in honey.

    Supposing your child has the habit of bed-wetting at night, what would African holistic medicine have you do?

    At bedtime give the child a teaspoonful of honey.  It will act in two ways.  First, it will act as a sedative to the nervous system.  Second, as has been said, it will attract and hold fluid during the hours of sleeping. In attracting and holding the fluid, it spares the kidneys.

    As you continue using honey for this purpose you will learn when to use it.  You will recognize conditions that are conducive to the child's pattern.  For example, attendance by the child at a children's party, with the accompanying excitement and liquid refreshments, will suggest the wisdom of a teaspoonful of honey at bedtime.  Also, any increase in liquid intake, especially after five o'clock in the afternoon, will lend you to anticipate that an accident may occur during the night if nerves and kidneys are not protected.

    When you have learned to control the situation with the honey at bedtime, begin to experiment by omitting it, to learn if it is possible to establish normal night bladder control.  You will soon learn the signs of the safe and unsafe nights.  Use your African wisdom..

To Control muscle cramps, Use Honey

    Cramps in the body muscles, which may appear from time to time, occur mostly in the legs and feet during the night.  This muscle cramping can generally be controlled by taking two teaspoonfuls of honey at each meal.  Generally it will disappear within a week and the honey should be continued indefinitely, for it is a way to prevent return of the difficulty.

Honey for Burns

    In African medicine, honey has long been used as a very successful treatment for skin burns.  When applied, it relieves the painful smarting and prevents formation of blisters.  It produces rapid healing of the burned area.

2000 Tariq M. Sawandi. All rights reserved.

Tariq Sawandi is a Master herbalist, nutritionist, and consultant on holistic health.  Dr. Sawandi is renown for his in-depth knowledge of African holistic medicine, including Chinese and Japanese medicine, Ayurveda, Naturopathy, and North American Indian herbology.  He is also the pioneer of a new holistic health treatment called, "Herbal-neuro-immunology" which is used to treat infectious diseases such as the AIDS.  He also writes for the "Black Healer" newsletter, and is the author a of new book titled, "African Medicine: A Guide to Yoruba Divination and Herbal Medicine" (in press).  Dr. Sawandi welcomes your questions.  He can be reached at P.O. Box 3466, Bldg. 3B04-210, #D47495, Corcoran, CA 93212-3466.


From the Editor/Blackherbals.com

Note:  An excerpt from Consumer Beware: Your Food and What's Been Done To It, by Beatrice Trum Hunter, Simon & Schuster.

"Honey is relatively unadulterated. Bees are highly sensitive to pesticides. Exposed to sprays, they usually die before returning to the hive.  Hence honey is one of the few foodstuffs low in pesticidal contamination.  Honey is also free of artificial flavors or colors.  It supersweetness, and possibly the presence of an enzyme (inhibine), prevents honey from molding.  Preservatives are unnecessary, and are not added.

The consumer has not been educated to accept the slight cloudiness and crystallized appearance of raw, unfiltered honey as a mark of quality. In a product that is clear, brilliant and easy-flowing, the fine flavor may be lost.

The conscientious beekeeper can remove the honey from the comb with mild heat, not exceeding 120 degrees F., and still retain nutrients in the product.  But even with heat as low as 150 degrees F., and by filtering out the "impurities," analysis shows losses:

                                                             Percentage of Loss              

thiamin                                27-30

riboflavin                             22-45

pantothenic acid                    8-22

niacin                                  15-27

ascorbic acid                         9-20        

 

In addition, filtration removes valuable vitamin F and the Wulzen factor. Excessive heat makes ferments lose their character and destroys colloids and esters present in raw honey. Look for the label that reads "unheated," or "no heat used," or "raw and unfiltered."  A crystallized state of honey should indicate quality, but unfortunately this appearance does not guarantee that the product has not been subjected to excessive heat."

    


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