Medicinal Honey: Introduction

Honey has been a staple of human diets worldwide for centuries. From the recorded mentions within “the land of milk and honey” in religious scripts, to the use of honey in medieval times as a remedy for a multitude of ailments, it has been an important foodstuff throughout human times. 

As the diversity of flora has developed among populations over the centuries, so, too, has the potential for acquisition of different types of nectar by insects such as bees. To put this in simpler terms, it is apparent that the evolution of the environment in different areas of the Earth has led to different types of nectar becoming available to honey-making insects (such as bees), and this in turn has led to the production of different types of honey that vary among themselves on the basis of their chemical composition. Simpler still, different honey types have different nutrient profiles and this variation is due to the different plant nectar used in the making of the honey! 

But why does this matter, you might ask? Essentially, the different nutritional profiles observed in honey promote different health benefits in consumers of honey. So while the product may be sweet to eat, it is also nourishing the body by providing it with a number of molecules that can help promote good health – things like antioxidants and specialized molecules (“flavonoids”) that help keep the body strong. 

So, what types of honeys exist, and which ones provide health benefits? Table 1 below details commonly-observed honey types worldwide, though emphasizes many of the ones commonly found in Australia. 

Table 1: Different Plant Sources Of Commercial Honey 
Type of Honey  Plant Source  Common Plants Used in Australia 
Acacia  Nectar exclusively from Acacia plants  Golden Wattle 
Banksia  Nectar exclusively from Banksia plants  Menzies Banksia, Orange Banksia 
Eucalypt  Nectar exclusively from Eucalyptus plants  Box Eucalypt, Stringybark Eucalypt, Red Gums, Jarrah 
Manuka  Nectar excusively from Leptospermum  Manuka Tea Trees 
Myrtle  Nectar excusively from Myrtle plants  Lemon Myrtle 
Lavender  Nectar exclusively from Lavender plants  English/French Lavender 

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