Sweet September: The health and beauty benefits of honey
September is National Honey Month. It’s the time of year when most of the honey produced in the U.S. is harvested. Of course it’s delicious as a glaze on ham or a sweetener in a cup of tea, but honey also has applications outside of the kitchen. Honey, especially locally produced raw honey — that is honey that is not heat processed — is extremely versatile, with uses that span from the bathroom vanity, to the gym and even the medicine cabinet.
Skin moisturizer: Honey is a humectant, which means it’s a substance that attracts and retains moisture. This makes honey a coveted ingredient in skin care products like cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners, and, also in spa treatments such as body wraps, body polishes and skin masks. To get glowing, hydrated skin, apply a honey mask three times per week to freshly washed skin, and rinse after 15 minutes.
Acne treatment: In addition to being an effective moisturizer, honey also extracts toxins from the skin’s surface. Mildly antiseptic, honey gently detoxifies by releasing low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which has a disinfecting benefit. Honey is also anti-inflammatory, which aids in reducing the redness that accompanies acne. If you have a pimple, first wash your face thoroughly, then apply raw honey as needed while skin is still damp. When incorporated into body treatments, honey helps to soothe rough and irritated skin often found on the upper back and arms.
Hair conditioner: Just as honey adds needed moisture to skin, it does the same for hair. The overuse of blow-dryers, flat irons and curling irons can dry and damage hair. To restore luster, shine and moisture to your locks, make an easy-to-do-at-home conditioner by combining ½ cup honey with ¼ cup olive oil. Work 2 tablespoons of the mixture into hair and cover with a shower cap; leave for 30 minutes and rinse.
Energy for athletes: Honey has similar levels of carbohydrates to those found in commercial energy drinks and sports gels. The big difference is honey is all natural, with no additives, preservatives or artificial colorings. Rather than buying neon-colored energy drinks, mix up a simple and budget-friendly solution of 8 ounces of water to 1 teaspoon of honey for a hydrating and tasty energy booster. On race day, use honey as you would a sports gel. During an endurance event, runners typically need 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour. One tablespoon of honey contains roughly 17 grams, so plan on two to three tablespoons per hour for optimal glycogen levels throughout the race.
Even more benefits: Honey also has gained a reputation as a remedy for seasonal allergies. The key is to choose raw honey that is sourced from within a 50-mile radius of where you live. Ingesting honey made by bees that pollinate many of the plants that cause allergies is believed to produce an immune response that relieves allergy symptoms. Honey is also efficacious as a sleep aid when mixed with warm milk and as a sore throat gargle when combined with a little bit of vinegar and salt.
Caution: Although honey is all-natural and considered a safe, healthy food when used in moderate quantities, it should never be given to infants under 1 year old.
Source for local honey: Spa of the Rockies sources raw, unprocessed honey used in its Native Honey Wrap treatment from Wild Bear Bee Farm in Snowmass. The family-owned company cares for over 200 bee hives in the Roaring Fork Valley and labels each jar with the location source.
Happy National Honey Month.
Jeremy Gilley is director of sales and revenue for Glenwood Hot Springs and the Spa of the Rockies.
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