Honey sure is great stuff. Bees may make it to provide nutrition to members of the hive, but we've been liberally "borrowing" it for centuries, and using it in all kinds of delicious dishes as well as intriguing medical treatments. Depending on where the bees go on their daily rounds, the flavor and color of honey can vary radically, from light golden blonde to rich, dark manuka honey -- a prized New Zealand export.
You might have a jar (or bear) of honey in your pantry, but how much do you know about the ancient origins of honey...and its uses outside the kitchen?
Thousands of years ago, cultures like Ancient Egypt used honey as a religious offering to their gods, as well as a skincare product (milk and honey baths and honey wound care products were both made in Egypt). In a more macabre line of uses, it was an important part of the embalming process. More apocryphally, in the Middle East, cadavers steeped in honey were allegedly an incredibly valuable medical concoction, known as mellified man. The jury's firmly out on whether that's just a legend, by the way.
Honey happens to have some antibacterial qualities, especially if it's dark, which is why it's been used in wound care for centuries. While it might sound a little weird to smear honey on a wound or wrap an injury in honey-soaked bandages, that's exactly what people did historically!
We rounded up some modern-day unusual, intriguing, and fun uses for honey for your...delectation.
1. Wound care
Yup. What worked for the Egyptians still works today. Honey's natural antibacterial qualities can make it an option if you need a quick solution to a cut, scrape or burn. Wash the area well with cool water and soap, pat dry, and apply a little bit of honey.
2. Fight intestinal parasites
Mix a 1:1:1 ratio of water, vinegar, and honey, and down the hatch. It might not taste too great, but it can help manage a mild case of parasitic infection. If symptoms persist, however, head to a doctor's office: you need some stronger stuff.
3. Quickie hangover remedy
Honey's high fructose content helps you metabolize alcohol more quickly, so have a spoonful if your head is pounding after a night out on the town. It wouldn't hurt to take that with tea, as hydration will also help your body recover.
Honey is a mild natural exfoliant, which makes it perfect for your face. Try washing with honey and warm water to enjoy smoother skin and less acne -- it's also a great homemade acne remedy. If you develop a particularly zesty zit, dab some honey on it, leave it for half an hour, and gently rinse off. You may need to repeat a few times for full effect.
5. Energy boost
Flagging during a roofing job in the hot sun? Getting ready for a sports event? Have a dash of honey to give you some energy to get the job done. Research indicates that honey can help athletes who need a bit more energy.
6. Sleep tight
Salted honey can help reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body that make it hard to sleep. If you're feeling insomniac, try dabbing a little on your tongue to see if it helps you relax and get ready for bed. You don't need much!
7. Deep conditioner
Add honey to the ends of your hair to fight frizz and split ends, or use a honey rinse on your hair to make it glossier. Your hair will be thanking you and your New York plumber never has to know why there's a honey bear in the shower.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.