Honey and Health

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Honey has been used for healing for at least 4,000 years. Many cultures in the ancient world used it in remedies for the skin, eyes, and ears, for wound treatment and gut health.
The first recorded prescription using honey is on a Sumerian clay tablet from around 2000 b.c.e. that recommends it be mixed with river dust, oil, and water; honey is also mentioned in Chinese literature from around this time. The ancient Egyptian Ebers papayrus (ca. 1550 b.c.e.) contains 147 prescriptions using honey, including formulas for ulcers and burns, and for skin conditions from scurvy, after circumcision, and to reduce inflammation.