Honey Helps the Medicine go Down

Explore the medicinal benefits of honey and how to make your own herbal and aromatic honey blends.

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Like kindness, I believe we all need some sweetness in our lives.  We all feel nourished when kind to others and when others are kind to us.  We also feel nourished when we bring in the sweet flavors of nature.  In moderation, of course, too much of any good thing can cause imbalance.

Sweet tastes and smells are comforting and soothing to our emotions and often lift our spirits with a natural energy boost.  When feeling stressed or down, this sweetness can ground us and bring us back into our body, feeling more connected to the Earth and physical pleasure.  Honey is one of the most soothing sweet nectars provided by Mother Nature.  Golden colors can send signals throughout our body to soothe and lift our spirits as we connect to the warmth from the sun and nourishment from the Earth.  Let’s explore the medicinal properties of honey and how to infuse it with herbs.

There are hundreds of varieties of honey to delight the senses.  Honey contains the essences from wildflowers, trees, gardens, and the energy from the land those plants are growing.  Bees gather nectar from thousands of plants and travel 1-2 miles away from their hive to collect it.  This makes every batch of honey unique, and the same hive can produce different flavors of honey over the seasons as plants bloom at various times throughout the year.

The color of honey can vary from a light golden yellow (clover honey) to a deep dark red color (manuka honey).  The plant nectars will influence its flavor, creating notes of sweet, floral, citrus, nutty, earthy, camphor, fruity, berry, and more.

The worker bees take the nectar back to the hive and regurgitate it.  More bees begin to chew the nectar to remove the water until it becomes honey.  They deposit the honey into a wax comb and fan it with their wings to help it dry out and become more sticky.  This delicious substance owes its sweetness to glucose and fructose.  It also contains various minerals and antioxidants to support our health.

Internal Benefits of Honey

  • Honey is nourishing and considered a superfood.  It is rich in enzymes, amino acids, and various vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and antioxidants.
  • Honey has a soothing nature that coats, protects, and moisturizes dry, irritated, and inflamed tissues.  It is great to support various ailments in the throat, respiratory system, stomach, and intestines.
  • It has anti-microbial actions, especially anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  It is considered a natural antibiotic.
  • It benefits and supports the immune system in many ways, including relieving allergies.  It can reduce the occurrence and duration of allergy symptoms, especially when used preventatively before pollen season.  Using local honey is best for allergies as it will contain the local pollens and build your antibodies, so you are not as likely to react when exposed.
  • The fructose and glucose provide a natural boost in blood sugar and energy to feed the cells and brain.
  • Spiritually, honey helps us connect to the land, flowers, and trees.

Topical Benefits of Honey for the Skin & Hair

  • Honey is delightful and nourishing to bring into any bath and body regime: facials, skin scrubs, body wraps, hair moisturizing, baths, etc.
  • Honey is soothing and anti-inflammatory for general skin and wound care - healing red, inflamed, and irritated skin from acne, minor scrapes, bites, stings, rashes, and burns.  Combine it with nourishing skin healing herbs such as roses, calendula, elderflower, chamomile, and lavender for added benefits.  
  • It has gentle drawing actions to pull out oils and impurities from the skin, scalp, and hair.  Mix with clay or plantain for added drawing benefits from the skin.
  • Use as a poultice mixed with plants or essential oils to help hold the plants in place and deliver the healing benefits through the skin.
  • Add honey to salves and balms to soothe the skin and act as a natural topical antibiotic to inhibit bacterial growth.

Culinary Benefits of Honey

  • Honey acts as a preservative and natural sweetener in food and herbal preparations.
  • Drizzle honey in your food to naturally sweeten it.  It is delicious in yogurt, oatmeal, porridge, muffins, peanut butter snacks, desserts, salad dressings, marinades, nut butter balls, etc.
  • To naturally sweeten Herbal, Black, and Green Teas.
  • Honey can be a healthier option for sweetening freshly squeezed lemonaid.
  • Use to make lozenges, elixirs, herbal syrups, oxymels, herbal pastes, nut butter balls, etc.
  • You can use honey to feed various fermented foods and drinks, including mead (honey wine), ginger or turmeric bug, garlic, cranberry sauce, pomegranate, peaches, pears, apples, etc.

There have been some interesting studies on honey.  Here is a summary of the studies mentioned from the Mayo clinic:

  • Cardiovascular disease - Antioxidants in honey might be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Cough - Studies suggest that eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, and Labiatae honey can be reliable cough suppressants for some people with upper respiratory infections and acute nighttime cough.
  • Gastrointestinal disease - Evidence suggests honey might help relieve gastrointestinal tract conditions such as diarrhea associated with gastroenteritis.  Honey might also be effective as part of oral rehydration therapy.
  • Neurological disease - Studies suggest that honey might offer antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and anti-anxiety benefits.  In some studies, honey has shown to help prevent memory disorders.
  • Wound care - Topical use of medical-grade honey has been shown to promote wound healing, particularly in burns.

Types and Grades of Honey

Not all honey is the same.  Grades of honey are rated by water content, plant debris, and purity, grade A being the highest quality.  When purchasing honey, be sure it is organic as chemicals sprayed on the plants and lands will be present in the nectar collected by bees and will contaminate the liquid golden medicine.

Raw honey is best since enzymes and antioxidants are damaged when heated above 110 degrees.  Pasteurized honey is cooked at 180 degrees and no longer contains rich medicinal benefits.  The honey is still sweet but does not have the same nourishing or energetic qualities.  Conventional pasteurized honey is often diluted with corn syrup and other artificial and harmful sweeteners.  Some may even contain anti-biotics and other chemicals.  Even though companies can get away with labeling that as honey, it is no longer medicine and will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, cells, and organ systems.


DO NOT give honey (raw or pasteurized) to any child under one year old.  After one, their body is developed enough to handle any potential allergies and the rare occurrence of botulism (a bacteria infection).

Tip: If your honey has crystallized or is hard to pour, place your bottle/jar in a bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes.  This will help thin your honey and make it easier to pour.

Sustainability and Beekeeping

Use your honey with wisdom and appreciation as it is a precious resource.  Be mindful of how much you use as a little goes a long way, and a lot of energy goes into creating it.  Grow local and native flowering plants and trees to attract bees and provide food for them to make honey.  Support your local beekeepers and consider beekeeping yourself, especially if you have an organic garden.  The bee populations have been in significant decline over the decades, and we can help encourage them to thrive.  We receive lovely spiritual medicine from the bees and nature as we connect to them as we do this.  Check your local community for a beekeeping association or search online for resources to support you.

Honey Infusions

You can take the medicinal benefits of honey to the next level by infusing it with herbs.  Honey draws out the aromatic oils, water essences, and resins from plants.  When you add the properties of plants into the honey, it makes a powerful remedy to hone into your imbalance. 

You can allow the plants to sit in the honey for some time, strain them out, or leave them in if they are eatable.  You can mix with herbal powders, flowers, roots, barks, seeds, and spices.  Use respiratory herbs, digestive spices, heart support, skin nourishment, aphrodisiacs, adaptogens, and more.  Honey is a creative and fun way to work with our herbs and medicine.  It helps disguise the flavor of herbs, so they are more palatable and enhance the delicious flavors we do enjoy.

Garden herbs that taste wonderful in honey include lavender, roses, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, or any other mint variety (pineapple, chocolate, lavender, etc.), lemon balm, lemon verbena, jasmine, etc.  When it is fall, and you are ready to harvest your roots, try infusing some licorice, comfrey, echinacea, elecampane, aralia, etc.

Honey Infusions with Dried or Freshly Wilted Herbs (Non-Cooking Method)

Put herbs in a mason jar and cover with honey.  Macerate with a spoon to release all air bubbles.  Add more honey until about 1 inch covers the herbs.  Steep in a sunny or warm place for 2-4 weeks and watch for mold or condensation.  If condensation does appear, wipe off or absorb it with a paper towel.  Gently heat the honey to body temperature (warm to the touch), strain through a stainless steel strainer, and store in a jar or bottle.

Honey Infusions (Cooking Method)

Mix your herbs and honey either in a crockpot or in a double boiler and gently heat for 1-3 hours (can go longer if desired).  Use caution not to overheat the honey or burn the herbs.  You ideally want to maintain a temperature below 110 degrees.  Use a candy thermometer if needed.  Strain through a stainless strainer or leave the herbs in the honey for decoration.  Bottle and enjoy the delicious flavor and medicine.

Buzzin’ Bee Garden Honey

Add any combination of fresh flowers from your garden, especially those that attract bees.

Lavender, Calendula, Bergamot, Chamomile, Hawthorne flowers, Borage, Passionflower, Roses, Jasmine, Nistrusums, etc.

Ginger Honey

Chop up, slice, or grate any amount of ginger and add honey until it is completely saturated.  Let it sit in a sunny window for up to four weeks.  Gently heat for 30-60 minutes, strain, and enjoy this yummy ginger-flavored honey in tea, cordials, food, etc.

Chai Spiced Honey (from The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride)

Take 2 cups of honey and add the following powders or freshly ground spices: 3 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp coriander, 11/2 tsp allspice, clove and cardamom, 1 tsp ginger and black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Heat up for 30-60 minutes and sit for 2-4 weeks to continue infusing.

Damiana Rose Honey – “Rosie-ana Nectar”

Take equal parts of damiana leaf and rose petals with a bit of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom to taste.  Use any method to infuse the herbs.  Strain, bottle, and enjoy the euphoric benefits of this aphrodisiac nectar.

Orange Spiced Honey

Take 1/3 cup orange peel, 1-3 cinnamon sticks, 1 tbsp each of allspice and clove, ½-1 tsp of decorticated cardamom (or 4-8 broken cardamom pods), and place all herbs in a pint-sized mason jar.  Saturate with honey and mix well, releasing all air bubbles.  Let it sit for 2-4 weeks, preferably in the sun.  Strain the herbs if desired, or leave them in there for decoration and enjoy!

Aromatic Honey

You can also cautiously use essential oils in honey to avoid the mess of straining.  As a general rule, use 1-2 drops of your favorite edible essential oil(s) per 4 oz (1/2 cup of honey), depending on desired strength of flavor and the potency of the essential oils used.  Be sure your essential oils are organic or Demeter, are from a well-reputable source, are safely and appropriately diluted for internal use, and are well researched!

Lavender Honey - Add 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil to 4 ounces of honey to help soothe a burn and irritation from minor scrapes, bites, stings, and plant oils.

Honey Fermented Garlic

  • Fill a pint-sized mason jar with 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves.  Add 1 cup of raw honey and stir until the garlic is completely covered.  The cloves will float at first which is ok.  Just be sure there is enough honey so the cloves can move around when stirred.  Release any air pockets or bubbles.
  • Place the lid on the jar loosely, then tuck it into a dark place on a plate or tray in case honey spills over.  The ideal temperature is 68-72 degrees.  Your honey will ferment faster in warmer temperatures and slower in cooler.
  • I-2 times daily, tighten the lid on the jar and flip it upside down to stir and rotate the garlic in the honey.  Loosen the lid again when you return it to the upright position.  This allows the gases from fermentation to escape and reduces oxygen from coming in.  After a week or so, the garlic will begin to sink to the bottom and will not float anymore.  When this happens, you do not need to rotate anymore and can leave the jar alone, with the lid loose.
  • Within a few days to a week, you should see tiny bubbles start to form in the honey.
  • The honey garlic can continue to ferment for months and even years.  You can eat it at any time and notice how the flavor changes and develops over time.  The garlic will mellow, and the honey will become much runnier.
  • Eat the garlic cloves as needed culinary, and use the honey in salad dressings, marinades, spreads, etc.

How to Make Honey Herbal Syrups

  • Add your herbs to a pot and add 3 cups of water for every cup of dense herbal material like seeds, roots, and barks.  Use 2 cups of water for every cup of lighter plant material like leaves and flowers.
  • Use low heat to bring your infusion to a light simmer.  If using roots and barks, you can simmer for 30 minutes before removing them from heat.  If using leaves, flowers, or berries, you should turn off the heat right before it reaches a simmer to prevent damaging the heat-sensitive properties of the plant(s).
  • Keep covered for 2-8 hours.
  • Use a stainless-steel mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or muslin cloth to strain and remove the herbs.
  • Add about ¼-1/3 part of honey to preserve and maintain the freshness of your syrup.  Store it in the fridge for up to 2 months.  You can also add up to a 1/3 part alcohol (vodka, rum, etc.) and use less honey to preserve the syrup and store it on the shelf, in which case they will have a shelf life of 6 months-2 years, depending on how it was stored and how much honey and alcohol is used to preserve.
  • Note: You can add the honey into the water and herbal mixture after heating the water so the honey can begin to pull out the properties of the plants as well.  Just keep in mind some honey will be lost in the straining process.

Traditional Sore Throat Remedy - Lemon Honey Tea

You may remember this being your grandmother’s go-to sore throat remedy.  It is simple and sweet and can help ease a sore throat, especially with the initial onset.

Add 1-3 tsp of honey (or a honey infusion) in 8-12 ounces of warm water with 2-3 slices of lemon.
Optional: Add a few slices of fresh ginger, a sprig of mint, or any other fresh garden herbs of your choice.


Fun Honey Folk-Lore for Valentine Day:

In Greek mythology, honey is known as the “nectar of Aphrodite.” It has traditionally been used in sexual and marriage ceremonies for centuries.  The word “honeymoon” was coined from the traditional use of drinking mead after a wedding to encourage sex & increase libido & fertility in women after marriage.

Many aphrodisiac herbs taste wonderful in honey, including cinnamon, clove, allspice, orange peel, ginger, cardamom, anise, licorice, lavender, roses damiana, etc.

About the Author:

Candice Brunlinger is an Herbalist, Intuitive Healer, Health & Wellness Educator, and Mindfulness Coach with an integrative approach to healing using plants, nutrition, self-care, and energy practices, including Tai Chi, Qigong, and EFT.

She supports others with simple solutions to empower health through whole food nutrition, emotional freedom, and mindfulness. Explore her online courses, class offerings, and one-on-one health coaching at www.herballivingandhealing.com