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Honey - Nature's first dual-purpose food and medicine
November 28, 2014
Honey has always been the go-to for people throughout the centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it to sweeten foods, as did most cultures. In Hinduism, honey is used in elixirs for immortality. Historically, almost every culture, in every time period, honey was also used as a medicinal, both orally and topically. Used for allergies, burns, cancer, preventative measures or for sweetening teas and foods, honey has been a proven and effective source of food and medicine since the first drop was harvested.
There are many types of honey and many different uses. There are specialty honeys made from bees that are exclusively fed certain types of pollen. The different pollens are what make the properties of the honey more antiseptic, sweeter, darker, or thicker. Prices for specialty honey can be upwards of $100 per ounce, while local prices can vary from $10-20 a quart.
Whatever the source, you can make home medicinal or natural remedies, in simple steps. Cough/Cold syrup (pictured) is normally honey fermented with citrus rind, garlic, ginger, or all three together. I prefer the garlic, myself, because the cloves, when consumed after fermentation, have helped me beat colds in as little as 24-48 hours. I cannot ‘prove’ this, but I know my family has seen the results, enough to convince some to ferment cloves in honey for themselves.
I prepare my 'cough/cold' syrup and remedy by placing peeled garlic cloves in an air tight container. I add enough honey to cover and then add a weight to ensure the garlic does not float and is exposed above the honey. The honey is antibacterial, so you won't have to worry about mold; however, the garlic above the honey will oxidize much faster and will change colors more quickly than the cloves that are submerged. While not pleasing to look at, it is quite common for the cloves to turn green.
The fermentation process causes the honey to bubble up. Seeping from the container is very common, but if you leave enough headspace, it shouldn’t be as messy. The foaming or bubbling is very similar to adding water to a cup with soap in it, or heading like beer or champagne. Once that has stopped or slowed, this is when you can transfer it to a more permanent container. I place mine in another one so I can start another batch, right away. I do not like having large batches at ounces, but smaller, fresher batches throughout the year.
If garlic doesn’t sound appealing to you, another method would be to follow the same procedure replacing the garlic with sliced ginger or citrus rind – or both. Either will water the honey down a bit, so do not be surprised if it’s not as thick as you expected. Both ginger and citrus have medicinal properties from anti-inflammatory to digestive ailments. Both also work very well in helping to tame coughs.
Consult with your pediatrician before administering honey to your child(ren), just to be on a safe side.