Is Honey a Sweetener, a Medicine or an Aphrodisiac?


The first sweetener ever to be used by humans was honey. It dates back to 2100 B.C. where it was mentioned in sacred and biblical texts.

More than just a sweetener for food, throughout history, honey developed a deeper meaning for the word sweetness. It is said to have the ability to sweeten your life; specifically your love life.

In ancient times giving honey to newly weds was a popular tradition. In fact some say that the word ‘honeymoon’ stems from a tradition in which newly weds would drink mead (honey wine) for the first month after their wedding in order to sweeten their marriage.

Honey is known as the nectar of Aphrodite (the Goddess of sexual love and beauty). The use of honey is said to act as a natural aphrodisiac and is mentioned in the Kama Sutra because of that property.


Since ancient times, honey has been revered for helping people with common colds and sore throats, but in recent years studies have actually proven these long held beliefs.

In 2007 a study proved that honey (buckwheat honey specifically) outperformed dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) in suppressing nighttime coughs.[i] This is the first time honey was actually proven as a treatment.

Three years later another study further proved that honey beat out dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) as well as diphenhydramine (antihistamine) in relieving nighttime cough in children and improving their sleep.[ii]

Another long held belief that is now backed by science is that honey has the potential to help with wounds, burns and ulcers. Back in the day, honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until penicillin came along. Recently though, honey has been regaining popularity and recognition for helping fight infection and heal wounds.

After a skin injury or surgery, many otherwise harmless bacteria that live on the skin can infect the wound site. For example, one type of strep can lead to long lasting wounds that refuse to heal. Researchers found that Manuka honey has been able to stop this stubborn type of strep.[iii]

According to their findings, certain types of honey might even be more effective than antibiotics!

Other studies have even shown that honey inhibits the growth of dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella.[iv] These findings have a lot of potential but still have to prove that the same results will occur outside of the lab.  

Raw Vs. Processed Honey:

Historically, honey was used by wealthy people who could afford it. Today you can find honey at the supermarket, minimart, even your local pharmacy carries it.

Honey has become easier to obtain, but that also means that many mainstream companies are processing it at greater lengths, which reduces its nutritional benefits.

There is a huge nutritional difference between raw honey and cooked/processed honey. Raw honey is not processed but the clear commercial honey you find at most supermarkets is heated excessively through pasteurization. If you are using honey externally for wounds you should only apply Manuka honey. The honey found in grocery stores should never be applied to wounds and can even worsen an infection.[v]

It’s also good to remember that though you have access to honey from all over the world, eating your local honey can have powerful health benefits.  Since bees gather nectar from local flora, it is believed that local honey can have a strengthening affect on the body’s ability to adapt to environmental stress.[vi]

Compared to Other Sweeteners:

In comparison to all of these other sweeteners, honey is the only natural sweetener that does not require additional refining or processing in order to be eaten.

But even though honey has proven medicinal benefits and has been around for thousands of years, that does not mean that it’s right for everyone.

If you are cautious about your blood sugar, you should  be aware of the sweetener’s glycemic index (GI) rating to understand how quickly its sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream.

Here is the GI of honey along with other sweeteners:

Honey GI is 58

Cane Juice Syrup GI is 55

Maple Syrup GI is 54

Molasses and Muscovado Sugar GI is 54

Coconut Palm Sugar GI is 35

Brown Rice Syrup GI is 25

Xyliotol is 7

Stevia GI is 0

In addition honey should not be ingested by infants younger than 12 months because of the risk of infant botulism.

Bottom line: Honey has been used as a sweetener, a medicine and an aphrodisiac for thousands of years. If you plan on adding sweetness from honey into your life, make sure you are getting raw and local.


6 Comment(s)

  1. Thank you, I agree and it is good to see it in print.

    Paul R Porter | Reply

  2. thanks for the piece of information about honey! Let me make a try and start benefiting from its wonders.

    mildred | Reply

  3. What is the GI rating for blue agave or yacon?
    Thanks.  Marilyn

    Marilyn | Reply

  4. Marilyn, the GI of blue agave is 19-39 and yacon is almost zero.

    admin | Reply

  5. It is odd that honey is included in a self-proclaimed vegan health course. Honey is not vegan. It is pollen that worker bees fly around eating, then get back to their hives to regurgitate. It is mixed with digestive enzymes that break the starches down into simpler sugars, the the bee enzymes have other chemical changes as well. To sound gross, honey is bee vomit.
    A bee hive will step up it's honey production when it gets a new queen, so many large honey producers squish the old queen and replace her on a regular basis. Some honey producers remove all the honey from a hive and replace it with cheaper corn syrup to keep those bees working, making more honey.
    Also, bee pollen is collected with metal combs at the entrance of a hive that knock the pollen off bees legs as they come home. Some bees get their legs caught in these combs and torn off.
    Honey producers also take all the honey at the end of the season and let the entire hive starve – new bees in the spring are cheaper than letting them winter over.
    Unless you have your own bee hive & know the bees are not treated poorly, and know what areas the bees fly in and where the pollen comes from, think before you eat honey. As sweet as it is, you are probably eating more misery.

    John W Beck | Reply

  6. John, thanks for helping educate our fans about the treatment of bees. We decided at the outset to separate our moral principles from health facts. In other words, we want our readers to be fully informed so they can make their own decisions, rather than censoring health facts because of our individual morals. If we did that, a lot of people would wonder if we were only giving half-truths.

    Trevor | Reply

Post a Comment

Please send me
(select one or both):

Vegan Recipes
Vegan Health Secrets
Teaching & Coaching Tips

We respect your privacy!