The proven health benefits of honey

Story highlights

  • Honey has proven antibacterial properties
  • For children over the age of one, honey is an alternative to cough and cold medications
  • The jury is still out on cancer, heart and diabetes benefits

(CNN)Move over, prehistoric bears. Humans have loved honey since the Stone Age.

Rock art pictures of honey harvesting, which at first glance look like drawings from A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, date to about 8000 B.C.
    Beeswax has been found on pottery dating as far back as 7000 B.C., most likely used for waterproofing. The ancient Egyptians offered honey to the gods and then joined the Greeks, Romans and Chinese in using it as a salve for wounds and a treatment for fevers and stomach ailments.
      Today, proponents of honey tout its miraculous healing properties, claiming that it can prevent cancer and heart disease, reduce ulcers, ease digestive problems, regulate blood sugar, soothe coughs and sore throats, and increase athletic performance.
      But just how many of these uses, ancient or modern, have been proved by science?

      Thumbs up: Antibacterial properties

      There's no doubt honey has the power to kill bacteria. Studies have shown that it is effective against dozens of strains, including E. coli and salmonella. A specific type of honey from New Zealand, called manuka honey, along with Malaysian Tualang honey, has been shown to fight staph and the digestive bacteria responsible for peptic ulcers, H. pylori.