Have you heard the buzz? Magical things happen when you have a spoonful of local raw honey every day.
Story by Amy Coyne Bredeson + Photography by Mark Staff
Many people have heard that local raw honey can help alleviate allergy symptoms, but according to a professional beekeeper on Hilton Head Island, the sticky substance has many more benefits, without the side effects that drugs have.
David Arnal, founder of Bees Across America and Hilton Head Honey, recommends taking a teaspoon of honey in the morning and another in the evening for allergies. He said it takes about a week to start working.
In general, local honey is defined as coming from a beehive within a 25- to 50-mile radius of where a person lives, Arnal said.
“Some chiropractors say if you could have bees in your backyard and get it that local, that would be ideal,” Arnal said. “Bees fly up to about two miles from the beehive to harvest honey so they cover an area of about 12,000 acres around the beehive that they harvest honey from.”
Arnal learned how to keep bees as a student at Clemson University and has been doing so since 1988. He maintains 75 colonies of honeybees spread around Hilton Head, mostly located in community gardens within the gated communities. The honey that comes from those colonies can be purchased at various locations in the area.
In addition to helping with allergies, Arnal said a number of studies done in Europe have shown that honey can help people with Type 2 diabetes.
“Honey is about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose,” Arnal said. “The glucose immediately feeds into your system and gives you … the sugar rush that you need because you have low blood sugar. And then behind it, the fructose goes into your system much more evenly and over time gives you sugar without giving you a sugar shock.”
Arnal said honey is also known to work better than over-the-counter meds as a cough suppressant for children. The Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., conducted a study and found that honey was superior to Robitussin and Delsym, and all the active ingredients in cough medicines.
He said many people don’t realize, but honey also can be used as an antiseptic. It was used on skin wounds prior to Louis Pasteur’s discovery of the germ theory.
Arnal explained that bacteria can’t live in the presence of honey because it sucks the water out of the bacteria and shuts it down.
When honey interacts with the skin, it also releases small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
“They’re finding more and more use of what they’re calling medical honey in hospitals because you can essentially do it without interaction,” Arnal said. “No one is going to be allergic to honey.”
Arnal said while there is no such thing as a honey allergy, the National Honey Board and the USDA advise parents against giving children honey before the age of 1. The recommendation came about in the early 1980s after a child had botox poisoning due to a beekeeper using dirty equipment. Babies don’t have the acid in their stomachs to handle the botulinum toxin.
Anyone who would like to see Arnal’s bees up close and personal can visit the Discovery Lab at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head.
“Honey contains a tremendous number of trace minerals because some honeys come from trees, and trees are tapping into those minerals down in the soil,” Arnal said. “So from just a general benefit perspective, you get a lot of trace minerals that are typically added to food as chemicals rather than naturally occurring in your food.”
Eat raw honey to treat:
• Hay fever
• Stomach ulcers
Apply raw honey to the skin for:
• Wound healing
• Diabetic foot ulcers
Where to purchase Hilton Head Honey
• Coastal Discovery Museum
• The Purple Cow
• Port Royal Plantation Property Owners Association
• Hilton Head Plantation Farmers Market
• Hilton Head Honey