As scratchy throats and snuffy noses increase this spring, we’ve noticed multiple recipes and remedies involving honey. And lots of questions about honey safety, raw versus filtered honey, etc. Honey is a popular addition to some facial recipes, homemade creams and lotions. A drop of lavender or lemon essential oil added to honey can be a great treat and effective throat soother. We wanted to pass along some honey facts we’ve discovered while researching combining essential oils with honey.
No Safe Honey For Infants
All honey is dangerous to children under the age of one because of the presence of botulism spores. Adding an essential oil or heating in a microwave does not make honey any safer.
That’s not how raw honey and botulism work. Bees visiting flowers and plants bring botulism (Clostridium botulinum) spores back to the hive. These spores remain lodged in the honey but cannot germinate or produce toxins.When you eat the honey, you eat the spores. Filtering and pasteurization does not kill the spores — so there is not safety benefit between raw and pasteurized honey. Even boiling honey does not destroy the spores. These spores do not cause a problem for most people, because they are destroyed in the stomach. But if you are an infant or have a compromised immune system, the spores can germinate and start producing toxins. 1
Honey is Safe For Moms-To-Be and Nursing Moms
Yes, it is ok for a breastfeeding mother to eat honey. Botulism is not transmitted by breast milk. As always, thorough hand washing practices should be strictly adhered to, especially in households where honey is regularly consumed by family members and other caregivers. Doing so will help prevent having honey on surfaces that may come into contact with the infant’s mouth. – Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program
Why Filter and Pasteurize Honey?
Honey is made from the nectar from flowers, not pollen. The flowers the bees visit greatly affect the flavor and color of honey. One surprise we discovered–since the pollen setting off your allergies is from non-flowering trees, weeds, and grasses, even raw honey will have no direct effect on your allergies. But the pollen other elements of raw honey may contribute to its beneficial effects.
Filtering honey does not make it any “safer.” Filtering removes suspended particles and air bubbles, making the honey clearer and allowing it to stay liquid longer. 2 It may remove beneficial microorganism, and by removing pollen can hide the honey’s origin. 3 This is why your best bet is always to purchase local honey when available.
Honey is not pasteurized for safety. Because of honey’s acidity and low moisture, harmful microorganisms cannot reproduce in honey. However, honey absorbs moisture from the air around it (hygroscopic). If it absorbs too much moisture from the open air, honey can begin to ferment (that’s where mead comes from). Pasteurization kills off this yeast and prevents fermentation from occurring. 4
Science is catching up to Mom in one respect – honey is being evaluated as a cough treatment. 5
A (Warm) Spoonful of Honey
We sometimes add an essential oils to honey when we want the combined beneficial effects. This is both quicker and a lot less messy than mixing honey with dried herbs, letting it set for a few weeks, then straining the herbs out.
To make sure the oil and honey are thoroughly mixed, we make sure the honey is warm. Just placing the honey jar in a hot bowl of water usually does the trick. When adding essential oils to use in honey, make sure they are food grade and remember a little goes a long way.
When we need to soothe a throat: One tablespoon of raw honey with one drop of either On Guard Protective Blend, Lemon Essential Oil, or Rosemary Essential Oil.
When we need soothing digestive relief: One tablespoon of raw honey with one drop of either a digestive blend or ginger essential oil.
When we need a peaceful addition to our oatmeal or grilled grapefruit: ¼ cup honey with one drop lavender essential oil.
When we need to feed our soul: 1 cup butter, 1½ cup honey, and 2 drops orange essential oil prepared following this delicious honey-butter recipe and add to crusty bread or fresh gluten-free loaf.