Health Benefits of Lavender Honey
Many honey connoisseurs consider lavender honey from Provence, Southern France, to be the best honey in the world. With its delicate floral scent and enticing flavor reminiscent of lavender flowers, this French gourmet honey derived from the nectar of lavender flowers is used to sweeten hot drinks and cookie doughs. It also makes a lovely spread for toasted bread and warm scones.
In addition to its culinary uses, lavender honey, or miel de lavande as it's called in France, can be used medicinally as it is rich in numerous health-boosting compounds, from tyrosine and anti-fungal substances to flavonoids and phenolic acids such as naringenin, luteolin, gallic acid, and caffeic acid. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of potential nutritional and health benefits of lavender honey. At the end of this write-up, there are also a couple of tips for those who are looking to buy lavender honey or French miel de lavande.
Lavender Honey is Rich in Tyrosine
Tyrosine is one of the primary amino acids in all types of honey, but a Spanish study published the November 2003 issue of the journal Food Chemistry, found that lavender honey had the highest levels of tyrosine among the tested honeys. Your body uses tyrosine to make neurotransmitters that may help prevent or treat certain conditions involving the brain. Furthermore, your body uses niacin, folic acid, vitamin C, and copper to convert tyrosine into many important substances, including melanin, a skin pigment, and the female-hormone estrogen.
Due to its wide-ranging activity, tyrosine has been used to prevent and treat a number of conditions. Supplemental tyrosine has been used, for example, to treat depression, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impaired alertness caused by lack of sleep, stress, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and chronic fatigue. It is unclear, however, whether lavender honey can have the same effects as supplemental tyrosine.
Anti-Fungal and Anti-Candida Activity
A group of researchers from Portugal and Spain assessed the anti-fungal properties of lavender honey by testing its effects against Candida albicans, Candida krusei, and Cryptococcus neoformans. All three fungi have potential to cause health problems in humans. Solutions that contained high levels of lavender honey showed anti-fungal activity against all three types of fungi, but the anti-fungal effects of lavender honey were found to be particularly strong against the Candida krusei fungus.
The researchers concluded that honey could perhaps be used in the future as a natural remedy for myocotic infections – especially since fungi are becoming increasingly resistant to antifungal drugs. This study was published in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Food Science and Technology.
Proven Wound-Healing Properties
Both lavender honey and lavender essential oil have been used to treat wounds; however, a study from 2006 suggests that only lavender honey actually helps promote wound healing. In this study, rats' wounds were treated either with Allard's Lavender honey (Lavandula x allardii, lavender essential oil, standard therapeutic honey ("Medihoney"), or with nothing. Wound healing was measured by wound contraction and capillary volume.
Although neither the essential oil nor the two honeys had a significant effect on wound contraction, both honeys were found to reduce capillary volume in the wound sites. The researchers concluded that lavender honey, but not lavender essential oil, can promote wound healing. This study appeared in the September 2006 issue of the journal Phytotherapy Research.
Flavonoids and Phenolic Acids
Honey contains flavonoids and phenolic acids which are known for their wide-ranging health benefits. However, there are significant differences in the exact flavonoid/phenolic acid profile between different types of honey. Lavender honey has been shown to be a particularly rich source of the flavonoids naringenin and luteolin, both of which have been shown to exert strong antioxidant effects.
The phenolic acid composition of lavender honey is characterized by its high levels of gallic acid and caffeic acid. Gallic acid has received a lot of attention in scientific circles due to its ability to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Caffeic acid, on the other hand, is often used in supplements aimed at boosting athletic performance or treating exercise-related fatigue.
Where to Buy Organic Lavender Honey
Good news: you don't have to travel to Southern France to buy a jar of health-boosting miel de lavande. Many gourmet food shops in the US and UK sell this specialty honey, and you can even buy it online. If you like to shop online, check out the lavender honeys on amazon.com (or the impressive range of lavender honeys on amazon.co.uk if you want to order this healthy honey in the UK).