Thyme Honey: Anti-Allergenic, Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Cancer Properties
Thyme honey is made by bees from the flower nectar of Wild Thyme, Garden Thyme, Mother-of-Thyme, or any other species in the Thymus genus of plants. This relatively expensive gourmet honey is delicious on French toast and crepes, but it can also add nice flavor and sweetness to tea and herbal infusions. Culinary aspects aside, thyme honey also provides health benefits thanks to its strong antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-allergenic properties.
Thyme Honey Has Strong Antioxidant Properties
Thyme honey has strong antioxidant properties. A Polish study that compared the antioxidant properties of 10 honeys found that thyme honey – along with other dark-colored honeys such as raspberry, hawthorn and black chokeberry honeys, had the highest antioxidant activities as well as the highest levels of polyphenols and flavonoids, compounds that are known for their strong antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that are generated by things like sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, pesticides, infection, and metabolism. These unstable molecules are believed to contribute to the development of numerous diseases and conditions, including heart disease, various forms of cancer, cellulite, cataracts, and asthma. Free radicals can also promote premature aging of the skin, which is why free radical scavenging antioxidants play a key role in anti-wrinkle diets.
Thyme Honey Has Anti-Cancer Effects
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and deaths from this frightening illness are projected to continue rising. The good news is that you can do a lot to reduce your risk of cancer: you can start working out to reduce excess body weight, stop smoking, consume less alcohol, and start following a cancer prevention diet that includes plenty of healthy foods with potential anti-cancer properties.
As part of your anti-cancer diet, you'll also want to reduce your intake of white sugar and switch to healthier sweeteners such as thyme honey. Not only is thyme blossom honey considered an overall good choice for people looking for a healthier alternative to table sugar, this full-bodied honey has also been shown to reduce the viability of endometrial cancer cells (Ishikawa cells) and prostate cancer cells (PC-3 cells).
Thyme Honey Contains Quercetin and Other Anti-Allergenic Compounds
In folk medicine, honey has been used widely as a remedy for springtime allergies due to the small amounts of pollen it contains. Those who recommend honey as a remedy for seasonal allergies claim that consuming local honey daily before allergy season can help your body get accustomed to pollen and make your body immune to it. However, scientists have been fast to chime in to point out that it's generally the pollen blowing in the wind (released by non-flowering plants such as trees and weeds) that causes seasonal allergies, not the pollen in flowers carried by bees.
However, one recent study did find that pollen collected by bees has anti-allergenic effects, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. That said, most honeys you find in the shops have been filtered and contain therefore very little, if any, pollen.
Much of the debate over whether honey is a good anti-allergy food has centered on the pollen content of honey. However, some honeys, including thyme honey, are naturally rich in substances other than pollen that may exert anti-allergenic effects. Thyme honey, for example, has been shown to contain exceptionally high levels of quercetin compared to other honeys. Several scientific studies have found quercetin capable of reducing allergic reactions by stabilizing the cell membranes of mast cells and basophils, thereby preventing them from releasing histamine.
In addition, thyme honey has been reported to contain high levels of rosmarinic acid, a polyphenol that is particularly abundant in some culinary herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram, and sage. Both animal studies and human studies suggest that rosmarinic acid can help suppress allergic reactions. These positive effects appear to be linked to its ability suppress allergic immunoglobulin responses and inflammation caused by leukocytes.
Where to Buy Thyme Honey
Can't wait to start using thyme honey to reap all those health benefits? If you have no luck in finding thyme honey in your local grocery store or farmers' market, check out some health food stores in your area. Or, if you like to shop online, check out the impressive range of thyme honeys on Amazon.com, or take a look at the range of thyme honeys on Amazon.co.uk if you live in the UK.
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2. Anna V. Tsiaparaa, Mari Jaakkola, Ioanna Chinou, et al (2009). Bioactivity of Greek honey extracts on breast cancer (MCF-7), prostate cancer (PC-3) and endometrial cancer (Ishikawa) cells: Profile analysis of extracts. Food Chemistry, 116(3), 702-708.
3. Ishikawa, Yasuko et al. (2008). Inhibitory Effect of Honeybee-Collected Pollen on Mast Cell Degranulation In Vivo and In Vitro. Journal of Medicinal Food 11(1), 14-20.
4. Does Local Honey Help Heal Seasonal Allergies?, healwithfood.org, October 2013.
5. Paula Andrade, Federico Ferreres, M.Isabel Gilb, Francisco A. Tomas-Barberan (1997). Determination of phenolic compounds in honeys with different floral origin by capillary zone electrophoresis. Food Chemistry, 60(1), 79-84.