Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Why honey is a game-changer for your mind.
Honey’s many brain benefits both strengthen and reduce decline in our minds.
Honey is getting a lot of buzz these days (see what I did there?). We hear a lot about it in beauty ideas and healthy recipes, but how often do we hear about what honey does for your brain?
There’s actually a name for the use of honey and medicinal applications – apitherapy, which comes from the word Apis, or the genus to which honeybees belong. Although honey has been used in traditional healing modalities for thousands of years, its popularity in the mainstream market has prompted the medical community to do some “official” digging.
As it turns out, the benefits of honey for equally impressive in formal studies as they have been in age-old healing customs.
1) BOOSTS AND PROTECTS MEMORY
You may have heard of flavonoids over the past few years, as they have become a trendy buzzword in health circles, and for good reason. Flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, give fruits and vegetables (and honey!) their vibrant colors, and they also come with health benefits for your brain. Honey contains several flavonoids, including catechin, the same ingredient in green tea that delays memory regression.
Honey’s memory-boosting properties let us keep doing and sharing the things we love as we get older.
Impressively, a 2011 study featured in Menopause discovered that just 20 grams of honey a day could boost memory in postmenopausal women. In fact, women who followed this protocol for four months displayed better short-term memory than those who took hormone pills.
So while we all have to face getting older, honey can naturally help protect our brains – and memories – as we do so.
2) REDUCES OXIDATIVE STRESS
Our brains are consistently working, and, in order to do so, they require large amounts of oxygen. While this is dandy, as long as we’re breathing fine, it also means our brains are highly susceptible to oxidative stress or damage. (Think about how you might see rust form on a sunken ship over time, for example.)
Fortunately, honey contains several powerful antioxidants to combat such mental rust, like the polyphenols we touched on earlier, as well as things like apigenin and caffeic acid.
Consuming these wonder ingredients improves our brain’s defenses against oxidative stress while reducing the destruction or deterioration of cells due to free radicals. In other words, your brain gets stronger, while damage is reduced.
Honey may help alleviate anxiety and drug-related effects.
3) COULD POSSIBLY REDUCE ANXIETY AND CONVULSIONS
While honey is still being studied for other potential benefits, another promising area is that of honey’s effects on our actual mental state.
Tests using mice and rats have established strong evidence that honey is able to reduce the effects of some barbiturates. In the subjects which ate honey, they slept less, their anxiety improved, and they had fewer convulsions, possibly due to opioid receptors in the brain.
Obviously, further human-focused studies in this area need to be conducted, but it’s incredible to think that honey could potentially help with our own such nervous system issues someday.
With such a range of scientifically impressive ingredients, it’s no wonder honey has been a prized part of many cultures for thousands of years. So the next time you enjoy a bit of the sweet stuff, know that your brain is doing a little happy dance, too. Woop!
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