Friday, June 8, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Honey: Raw, Pure or Natural?

As Dave and I are trying to live more and more naturally, we are also using more and more honey in our diet. And honey is simply oozing withe health benefits! One of my favorite benefits of honey is the fact that it has strong, powerful, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This, combined with its many healing properties, makes it great for soothing sore throats, abrasions and minor burns. And that is just the beginning of honey's many healthful and healing benefits. It's pretty amazing stuff!

I could easily get very carried away with discussing all the wonderful healing benefits of honey, and eventually I will, but that isn't the purpose of this post, today. If you would like to see some more of the many, wonderful health benefits of honey, have a look here.  Instead, my post today is about WHICH honey is best to use to get those great benefits.

First of all, local honey is best for you. By local honey, I mean honey that has been grown through bees and pollens that are as close to you as possible. Honey that comes from your own environment gives you the best protection and healing you can possibly get. 

Regardless of where your honey comes from, some labels will say that it is 'raw' while others will say 'pure' or 'natural'.  This can be very confusing. The labeling on honey has not yet become very regulated, so even the same word on a label may have a different meaning from one brand to another, and the meaning of the 'terms' used will also vary greatly from country to country. There are; however, some basic rules of the trade that makes it a little easier to decipher and decide. In this post, I will be discussing the most common meanings used here in the United States.

RAW HONEY- Raw honey is just what it says ... RAW. It is straight out of the hive and has not been processed in any way. It has not been heat treated. It has not been filtered. It has not been pasteurized. It does not have other ingredients added. And it has not had it's beneficial qualities killed off. It is exactly as it was as it came out of the hive, sometimes even containing an occasional wing, a bit of pollen or honeycomb, or maybe even some propolis. It has a much higher antioxidant level than processed honey. This is the honey you want. It still holds ALL of its natural healing benefits.

NATURAL HONEY - This may not even be 'just' honey! It says 'natural' so all of the ingredients are probably natural, but there may be other things in there besides honey. It could contain sugar, molasses, or any other number of natural sweeteners or ingredients.... even water. Also, it may have been (and probably was) heat treated and/or filtered, which could destroy most of the benefits you were looking to get from it.

PURE HONEY -  Now this is the term you probably see on MOST of the honey labels. And it is probably the one that is most open to the largest variety of definitions. It leaves all kinds of possibilities for what may be in that jar of honey! It might mean that it is 'raw' honey straight from the hive. But then, again, it might not even be all honey! It could be only a small amount of honey with other ingredients, such as sugar, water, coloring, flavoring, etc, but with all of the ingredients being pure. Regardless of whether Pure Honey is Raw honey or if it is a 'blend' of ingredients honey labeled PURE has usually (though not always) been processed to some degree. Most has been at least heat-treated ... pasteurized. The high heat used for this processing kills most, if not all, of the honey's health benefits. It may have also been filtered, which further removes some of the honey's health benefits.

Why would all of this processing be done? One, it makes it smoother and clearer for a nicer presentation to the customer. Personally, I think it looks pretty appealing just as it is, and I am not willing to give up its many benefits for it to look 'prettier'. Second, if the honey contains 'other' ingredients, the processing is necessary to keep down the risks of food poisoning. But a product like that, I consider pretty worthless. It has no benefit except for a monetary one for the company that is producing it and fooling the customer. And with today's lax labeling, you have no way of knowing exactly how much heat has (or has not) been applied to your jar of honey, nor how much filtering or other processing.

Your best, and most reliable option is to purchase your honey straight from the bee keeper..... purchase it from someone you know and trust to be selling you RAW, UNPROCESSED, REAL honey. If you want your honey to contain ALL of its healing, medicinal, and health benefits, this is the only way to go!

Have a sweet day!


  1. Local honey is best for you in properties of allergen because the bees pollenate the same flowers/ weeds/grasses around where you live and are allergic to. Rather then injecting the allergen into you at the doctor you are eating it.
    Honey has become very expenise and a treat for most due to the lack of bees and honey farming. I am fortunate to have many close by. Nice ppost

  2. Thank you! And thanks for the great, added info about the allergies. I totally agree! I am hoping that eating it on a regular basis will help reduce or eliminate my allergic reaction to bee stings. I really don't want to get stung to find out, though!

    It is sad at what has been happening to the bees and how expensive honey has gotten .... very sad because it is so highly beneficial for us in so many ways. It seems the people that need it most are the ones least able to afford it. Seems the best price I have found lately on local raw honey is $11 for around 32 ounces, but I would have to double check the weight on my jar to be sure. It was $10 for 42 ounces, but the price went up, and the jar size went down.


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