Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to Select a Quality Honey

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Honey Good for Dogs, Cats - Honey is a Natural, Healthful, Healing Food



In this article…
1.   Introduction
2.   History of Honey - As a Food and Medicine
3.   Health Promoting Properties of Honey
4.   Health Benefits of Honey - Prevent, Treat, Remedy Illness
5.   Defining and Understanding the Different Types of Honey
6.   How to Select a Quality Honey
7.   How to Store Honey - Retaining Quality
8.   How to Add Honey to Your Dog’s, Cat’s Diet
9.   Daily Dietary Dosage for Honey
10. Cautions and Interactions
The following provides a comprehensive guide on honey for you and your dog...
1.0 Introduction
Natural Honey (Apis mellifera, also known as raw, unprocessed or unpasteurized honey) is said to be the world’s perfect food - a food that has been revered by the human race for many thousands of years.
Honey offers a rich source of nutrients packed into a simple food which delivers pure energy. Honey also contains multiple, powerful health-promoting and healing compounds that make it a versatile medicine. Honey can be used in emergency medicine, for the treatment and remedy of chronic ailments as both an ingested and topical medicine.
Natural honey is unlike any other food in that honey never spoils.
During their exploration of ancient Egyptian tombs, archaeologists discovered honey that was interred along with the pharaohs. Upon tasting the honey the archaeologists where able to determine that the ancient honey is still perfectly edible.
As a bee keeper, a dog whisperer / behaviourist, wellness adviser and guardian to my own dogs and cats - the topic of honey, dogs and cats holds a place near and dear to my heart and soul.
As beekeepers ourselves, my partner and I work as a team taking great care to provide the bees we have in our care, with a safe and healthy chemical-free environment. We have great respect for our bees and treat them with consideration.
We plant and grow cultivated and wild flowers using organic methods. We do not use any herbicides or pesticides. We are fortunate in that there are no GMO crops near our land on which we keep our bees. We take great care in the handling, processing and packaging of our bees’ honey to ensure the honey and other bee products retain their pristine condition and optimal health promoting properties. 

I love to tend to the bees and feel honoured and humbled to do so. I am comforted by the sound of their wings and fascinated to watch them go about their business. There is nothing that can compare to holding a frame of honeycomb fresh from the hive. Gazing upon the beauty of the comb structure, breathing in the wonderful scent of the honey and wood, appreciating the beautiful golden colour of the honey as my finger accidently creates an indent in the wax of the comb, causing some honey to well-up - which of course I must taste to clean my hands. In awe always, of the grace and tolerance of the bees, as I stand next to the hive while the bees flit about declining to sting me.
Bees are insightful beings. Bees respect those humans who are calm, grounded, quite and can normalize being in their (the bees’) presence, free of fear. Bees will not tolerate intrusion by anxious, aggressive, loud disrespectful humans. 
Bees themselves are amazing beings with a complex social structure and language of their own. The products that they produce are amazing and many - apis (bee venom), bee pollen, honey, honey comb, propolis, royal jelly…
Much respect should be according to the bee. Approximately every third-bite you take of any given meal comes to you by the grace of the bee. As for the precious life giving and healing food they produce which we garner great benefit from...

It takes approximately twelve (12) bees a combined distance of flight equalling 6,000 miles (9656 km) - which also equates to their lifetime’s worth of foraging time, to produce just one (1) precious teaspoon (21 grams) of honey.
6.0 How to Select a Quality Honey
A truly organic product will have the best potency of flavour, nutrients and medicinal qualities. A non-organic but good quality natural honey will also offer good nutritional and medicinal value
Look for honey that is labelled ‘100% Pure’.
Read the product label - including the fine print. Fine print may divulge important details regarding the quality of the product. For example…
  • That the honey is imported, or;
  • A blend of local honey mixed with imported honey;
  • Make sure the place of origin for the honey is not a geographic location where the soil is said to be highly contaminated…for example China;
  • If the label includes the word ‘Pure’ the honey may be watered down;
  • If the label states ‘100% Pure’ then the honey should be truly pure. 
Look for honey that is viscous (a thick fluid) rather than a honey which is thin, runny or watery - an indicator that the honey has been ‘watered down’.
Purchasing locally produced honey from a reputable beekeeper is a good way to ensure you are getting a quality product. Remember that any good quality natural honey will be rich in nutrients, health promoting and medicinal qualities.
As noted in the sections further above if you want a honey to have optimal nutritive content look for a dark coloured honey.
If you want a honey to have optimal wound healing properties look for a dark coloured honey. Remember don’t use crystallized honey on wounds as the sharp crystal molecules can irritate the skin.
For medicinal purposes and wound healing you can look for honey known to have exceptionally high glucose oxidase levels, for example:
  • Buckwheat honey to treat upper respiratory infections
  • Manuka honey or New Zealand beech tree honeydew honey for wound healing.
Remember that honey derived from herbal flora such as chamomile, garlic, lavender, marjoram or sunflower will take on the medicinal qualities inherent in that particular plant species.
If you want to give honey as a dietary supplement or topical treatment on a kitten or puppy under 6 months of age go to the pharmacy and purchase medicinal honey - don’t use natural honey.  See section 9.0 below for more information.
7.0 How to Store Honey to Retain Quality
To maintain maximum potency of the honeys nutritious and healthful properties…
Honey should be stored:
  • In an air tight container so that the honey does not absorb moisture from the air
  • A glass container is preferable to a plastic container
  • While pottery is attractive if the glaze is not impermeable, moisture from the air can be absorbed through the pottery by the honey.
  • At room temperature or slightly cooler;
  • In a dark place (i.e. cupboard) vs. a place exposed to high light levels.
Over time natural honey will eventually crystallize and solidifiy. This does not mean that the honey has lost any of its beneficial properties (other than being a little more difficult to spoon out or spread) nor is the honey spoiled or gone bad in any way. Don’t heat the honey at a high temperature as beneficial attributes will be destroyed. Don’t microwave the honey as doing so will also destroy honey’s beneficial properties. If you want to return the honey to a more liquid state simply place the honey (still in its container) in a warmer room or in some warm water. Leave the container standing in the warm water until the honey can be stirred or poured. The fact that the honey does solidify indicates that it is pure and not processed.
Due to lower glucose and fructose content, honeydew honey crystallizes at a much slower rate than floral honey. Some honeydew honeys do not crystallize at all.
Don’t use crystallized, solidified honey to treat wounds or skin conditions as the sharp microscopic crystals can cause irritation to the skin.
8.0 How to Add Honey to Your Dog’s,
      Cat’s Daily Diet
  1. You can add the honey to your dog’s or cat’s food once a day at meal time
  2. You can give the honey to your dog or cat as a treat
  3. You can use the honey as part of a treat - you can find example recipes here.
9.0 Daily Ingested Dosage for Honey
Non-Therapeutic Use - for daily intake as part of a health-promoting diet
Dogs and Cats
¼ tsp for every 20 pounds of body weight
9.0 Application of Honey on Wounds
As noted in section 4.2 above honey can be used topically to treat and remedy multiple types of skin conditions and wounds of various types and severity. Honey can be applied directly to skin to aid and speed healing, cleanse the wound, prevent and remedy infection, reduce pain,  pus, and swelling, slough away dead cells, etc. and prevent dressings from sticking to wounds, heal stubborn wounds that conventional treatments have failed to cure.
9.1 Applying Honey to a Wound

  • Honey should be applied liberally and for deep wounds make sure that the honey flows into the recesses of the wound;
  • If possible cover the wound with a dressing;
  • For wounds that are stubborn/ resistant to healing, daily application of honey to heal may require a course of treatment that extends over the course of months;
  • Honey and fresh dressings must be applied daily;
    • If it is not possible to cover the wound then try to discourage your dog or cat from licking the wound for a minimum of 20 minutes by which time the honey will have had an opportunity to begin it’s healing effects;
    • Reapply 2 to 3 times daily
  • For wounds that do not require dressing apply honey 2 to 3 times daily
  • You can also purchase pre-made dressings that contain medical honey made by companies such as Medihoney.
9.2 Applying Honey to Treat Other Skin Conditions
  • Apply honey two to three times daily on the affected area
  • Persist until conditions clears
10.0 Cautions and Interactions
Kittens and Puppies under six (6) Months of Age
Natural honey can contain a few Botulism spores - not enough to harm a teenage or adult dog or cat but may have the potential to harm a very young puppy or kitten. For this reason natural (raw) honey should not be ingested or topically used on:
  • Newborn puppies or kittens;
  • Puppies or kittens less than 6 months of age or older puppies and kittens with a suppressed immune system or otherwise weak constitution.
If you want to give honey as a dietary supplement or topical treatment for a kitten or puppy under 6 months of age you can purchase medicinal honey from a pharmacy or on-line. Medihoney is a well known manufacturer of sterilized medicinal honey.
Alcohol
Nigerian Citrus sinensis Osbeck honey reduces peak blood-alcohol (ethanol) levels, as such interactions with alcohol may occur. This is a caution more for humans than for dogs or cats however as alcohol is itself toxic to dogs and cats and should be strictly avoided.
Blood Sugar
When ingesting honey plus other herbs and supplements that may affect blood sugar levels employ caution.
Carbamazepine and other Anticonvulsants
If your dog or cat is on carbamazepine or another conventional anticonvulsant drug use honey with caution as honey may react with anticonvulsants.
Conventional Antibiotics
Honey is a broad spectrum antibiotic. If your dog or cat is on a conventional antibiotic and you do not want additive antibiotic effect employ caution. If you do want additive effect then use honey.
Pollen Allergy
If your dog or cat has an allergy to pollen some allergic reaction may occur.
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For related and additional articles on dog and cat: behaviour; care; communication and psychology; health; training; nutrition, and animal advocacy go to the index page of my blog site.

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