Last week we looked at the benefits of black seed oil. This week we will look at the benefits of honey.
The earliest records of beekeeping were in Cairo in 2400BC. The Ancient Egyptians used it as a sweetener and embalming fluid whereas the Ancient Greeks observed honey as a healing medicine as well as important food as well as other countries in Europe. However when sugar arrived, the usage of honey as a sweetener was reduced; instead it was employed for wounds, gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular-related and liver-related issues.
So what’s inside Honey?
Honey primarily consists of two sugars: fructose (disaccharide) and glucose (monosaccharide). Other constituents include oligosaccharides, minerals, amino acids, vitamins and enzymes. In addition, honey contains chemicals that work effectively as an synergistic antioxidant such as flavonoides, catalase, ascorbic acid and others.
Benefits of Honey
A) Anti-microbial activity
Honey can exhibit anti-bacterial activity against bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Escherichia coli, Shigella and Salmonella. A study has shown that honey is effect as prenisolone treatment when used in colitis.
A hospital-based bacterial infection called MRSA; there has been studies were honey has shown antimicrobial activity under in-vitro conditions.
Another study examined the effects of honey on patients with UTI (urinary tract infections) that is normally caused by bacteria such as E.coli, S.faecalis and Proteus species. Results show that honey is effective as these type of bacteria are sensitive to honey due to its antibacterial activity.
As you can see from the above examples that honey is effective against bacterial infections; the question is how?
This is linked to its properties stated below:
1) Honey contains hydrogen peroxide which is synthesised by glucose oxidase that allows anti-bacterial activity to occur.
2) The amount of sugar in honey hinders bacterial growth (bactericidal) but is not the only reason for honey’s anti-bacterial activity as honey contains lysozymes, organic acids that also have anti-bacterial properties.
3) pH of honey is 3.2-4.5 – this is low acidity and is able to inhibit growth of majority of micro-organisms.
Besides, anti-bacterial activity, honey also has anti-viral effects. Studies have shown that topical honey was effective compared to acyclovir cream in managing recurrent lesions caused by herpes virus.
Another study reported that it has inhibitory effects on rubella virus.
Honey is able to inhibit the growth of fungus as well production of toxins.
Fungal infections such as cutaneous and superficial mycoses such as athletes foot and ringworm as well as for the treatment of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis have been found to respond to honey.
B) Anti-inflammatory activity.
Studies have shown that honey has anti-inflammatory activity against wounds such as abscess, burns, amputation, surgical. Ulcers and perineum as well as other types of wounds. It stimulates healing mechanism by stimulating tissue regeneration, reducing inflammation and clearing infection. The molecular mechanism of healing the wounds is still being studied however the type of wound and degree of severity play important factors in its effectiveness.
C) Honey and Heart diseases.
In the developed world, the rates of disability, mortality and economic costs are high for Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD) than other diseases. Myocardial infarction (MI) and Arrhythmias (ventricular arrhythmias such as tachycardia and fibrillation cause high mortality rates – thus anti-arrhythmic drugs are prescribed) are serious manifestations of IHD.
Honey contains flavonoids which lowers the chance of cardiovascular diseases as it prevents low density lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidation, lower platelets’ ability in blood to clot and improve coronary vasodilation. It also has phenolic compounds that is really effective against coronary heart disease (CHD) due to its anti-oxidant, anti-ischaemic, vasorelaxant and anti-thrombotic properties.
In addition, nitric oxide (NO) levels in honey have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, honey is able to reduce the blood pressure in the veins which consequently lowers congestion.
D) Honey and Cancer
Some studies have shown that honey has anti-neoplastic activity in cancers such as bladder cancer.
E) Gastrointestinal tract diseases
Honey and Eye diseases
Studies have shown that topical honey as ointment appears to be effective against opthalmological conditions such as keratitis, conjunctivitis, burns and corneal injuries.
F) Honey and diabetes
Honey is effective against Type I and II Diabetes as studies have shown it can lower plasma glucose levels, blood lipids, C-reactive protein and homocystein levels. It also appears honey stimulates insulin secretion and elevates haemoglobin concentration.
Overall, there are many benefits of honey and before these studies have been performed; Allah has already revealed before mankind in the Glorious Quran:
‘Your Lord revealed to the bees: "Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow." From inside them comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect.’ [16:69]
Black Seed is a plant from Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. It originates from Western Asia. It has white flowers when in bloom.
For over 2 centuries, black seed has been used by different cultures as a natural remedy for varied diseases and improve our health and well-being. Ancient Egyptians knew its benefits and called it a panacea (cure for illnesses) whereas the Ancient Romans utilized it as part of a diet and called it Greek Coriander. Ancient Greeks used it for aches of the head and teeth as well as nasal congestion. Our Beloved Prophet peace be upon him:
‘Use the Black Seed for indeed, it is a cure for all diseases except death.’ [Sahih Bukhari - 7:591]
Studies have shown that its active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, contains 15 amino acids. Amongst these include 8 essential amino acids. It also has carbohydrates, fatty acids including linolenic and oleic acids, alkaloids, volatile oils, and dietary fibre, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.
Recent studies have shown that black seed is an antibiotic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-bacterial, anti-bronchial and immune-boosting agent.
Some studies have shown it has trypanocidal properties and can stimulate the host immune system to maintain parasite proliferation. Consequently, it can help manage African sleeping sickness despite there is a risk of damage gradually occurring to host organs (shown due to increase in serum enzymes).
What does Black Seed Oil contain?
Black Seed Oil contains 3 main natural phytochemicals: thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ) and thymol.
A study published in the Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology experimented these 3 natural chemicals against 30 human pathogens. Results suggested that all three chemicals showed 100% inhibition for these pathogens.
Thymol - It is also present in thyme. It is a natural monoterpene. It is useful against fungus and viruses. Studies found it to be the best anti-fungal agent followed by TQ and THQ. It is also used in cosmetics and food flavouring.
Thymoquinone - It has anti-tumour, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown it to aid with asthma, diabetes, carcinogenesis and encephalomyelitis. It preserves anti-oxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase as they detoxify and aid in cellular anti-oxidant defense systems as they protect the liver from toxins.
Thymohydroquinone - It is a natural acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors that aims to stop enzymatic activitity which increase the amount of neurotransmitter acetylecholine remains active in the brain. These AChE inhibitors treat Schizophrenia, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, apathy and other conditions.
Top 10 Benefits of Black Seed Oil
Benefit 1: Anti-Cancer activity.
Thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone can aid in preventing cancer via the following methods:
Cell cycle arrest
Generate reactive oxygen species.
Studies conducted on mice models revealed that thymoquinone combined with chemotherapy increase therapy and lower toxicity.
Other studies have also been performed on the following types of cancer:
Colon cancer – studies shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cells with no side effects.
Brain cancer – Studies have shown that thymoquinone can induce apoptosis in glioblastoma cells. Glioblastoma cells
is one of the most aggressive brain tumours.
Oral cancer – Studies have shown that thymoquinone can induce apoptosis in oral cancer cells.
Leukaemia – Thymoquinone can induce apoptosis in leukaemia cells.
Breast Cancer – Thymoquinone can induce tumour growth and apoptosis in breast cancer cells.
Benefit Two: Hair
Black Seed oil can restore hair loss and strengthens hair roots; studies are still being conducted as to reason behind it. However there are theories that it is due to anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties.
Benefit Three: Epilepsy
Studies have found it to lower the amount of seizures in children who do not respond to conventional treatment.
Benefit Four: Brain Damage
Some studies have found that it can revese damage to the brain especially that caused by lead toxicity.
Benefit Five: Protect against Heart Attack
Studies have shown it protect the heart.
Benefit Six: Infections
Infections caused by bugs such as Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) known to spread around hospitals. MRSA are staphylococcus bacterial infections that can resist to antibiotics. Elderly and Immunodeficient individuals are at risk. Studies have shown that black seed oil can remove these infections.
Benefit Seven: Losing Weight
Studies have shown that Black seed oil has anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also lower appetite and glucose absorption in the intestines.
Benefit Eight: Strengthens the liver.
Studies have shown that it increases the function of liver and prevent both damage and disease. Individuals with poor liver function due to side effects of medications, consuming alcohol or disease; the role of black seed oil increases healing process.
Benefit Nine: Diabetes
Studies have shown that black seed oil aids in preventing type 1 and 2 Diabetes. A recent study revealed that black seed oil can cause gradual partial regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells (consequently increases beta-cell function in the pancreas), increases the lowered serum insulin concentrations and decreases the elevated serum glucose.
Another study revealed that it can work efficiently as that of metformin drug to improve glucose tolerance. Alternatively, the difference is that there is no side effects with black seed oil, whereas metformin has a number of side effects: such as pain in the stomach and muscle and head, constipation, digestive problems etc.
Benefit Ten: Skin
There are many benefits of black seed oil on the skin and other cells. Studies have shown that Black Seed Oil has same effect on eczema as Betamethasone that is prescribed for eczema.
There are so many other benefits of Black Seed Oil not so included.
A GOOD HEALTH MAKES YOU RICH
Health is crucial in every single person’s life. Its something that money can’t buy. Thus a good health makes you rich so look after it.