Buckwheat Honey, a Medicine of the Mother Nature

                        1) Brief History
                     2) Definition
                     3) Overview
                     4) World Honey Production and the Danger of our Foods
                     5) Ingredients and expected functions
                     6) How to buy good honey

1) Brief History:
The Honey has been known as an excellent medicine curing many diseases and been recognized as a panacea.
Ebers Papyrus is the oldest voluminous Egyptian medical archives written on papyrus circa BC1550 (It is said that this papyrus was just a copy of other archives written ca. BC3400). It tells various ways to use honey as a medicine and how to make honey-based medicine.
Hippocrates (BC460-375) of ancient Greece is now called as The Father of Medicine.He taught people honey as a laxative.
And a philosopher Aristotle (BC384-322), the teacher of Alexander the Great, was telling honey for wound just as a salve.
Sir.John Hill (1716-1775), English author and botanist, practised as a "quwack doctor" though he had a degree from University of Edinburgh wrote a book about efficacy of honey. He says that peoples stupidly go far away to get a miracle medicine forgetting divine providence and getting only severe side effects. You should look around your garden and you will find far much better medicine that God gives us. Honey is it.

Thus people of all over the world have been eating and useing honey for their well being.
But up untill a paper in 1989 from Britain's The Royal Society of Medicine released saying honey is to prevent stomach cancer and cure stomach ulcer and flu or good for diarrhea, constipation etc., the honey have not been well recognized by medical world.
In 1995 Codex 21st General Meeting decided standardization of the honey and finally in 2001 international standard for the honey has been established.

2) Definition
Natural sweet substance that Apis Mellifera (Western honey bee) collects, dehydrates and stores in the honey comb for maturity. There are Blossom Honey, Nectar Honey and Honeydew Honey.
It consits from about 80% of Saccharides (Glucose 40%, Fructose 35% and Cane Sugar 5%) and 20% of moisture and contains lot of Vitamins, Organic Acids, Enzymes, Minerals and of course a bit of pollens.... .It is said to contain more than 180 ingredients!!

Codex alimentarius standard (International Standard) says
  Minimum Saccharide is 60g/100g and maximum moisture is 20%. HMF (HydroxyMethylFurfural) is max 40mg/kg (except for tropical honey with max. 80mg.kg) etc...
 (Remarks: HMF is an organic compound derived from dehydration of certain sugars. HMF has been identified in a wide variety of heat-processed foods such as milk, fruit juices, spirits and honey. HMF is practically not present in fresh food but it is naturally generated in sugar-containing food during heat treatments like drying or cooking. and also slowly generated during storage. Acid conditions favour generation of HMF. Fresh honey contains less than 15mg/kg.- depending on ph-value and temperature and age. HMF is a natural component in heated food but usually present in low concentrations. The daily intake of HMF may underlie high variations due to individual consumption patterns. It has been estimated that in a western diet, in the order of magnitude of 5-10mg of HMF are ingested per day from food --extracted from Wikipedia.org)

3) Overview
Honey can last forever because of its high osmotic pressure preventing propagation of bacteria together with ingredients with strong sterilizing power. Thus still edible honey was found in Egyptian Pyramids. We have been eating or using it as medicine for more than 5000 years. Furtrher more we have been drinking it as Mead which is honey fermented liquor commonly called as Honey Wine in Europe which is one of the oldest alcoholic beverage like wine from grapes. It has been so common especially in the northern Europe where no grapes are grown.

Though it would last forever, it is recommended to consume it by about 5 years in order to enjoy the fresh flavour but even after 5 years you can use it as sugar alternative for cooking.. You can store it just in the ambient temperature avoiding direct sun light. In the temperature range of 5-14 DC it becomes solid by the crystallization of glucose coring on the pollen. This is just natural and a proof of genuineness and nothing to do with deterioration process. In order to turn it back to liquid state again, dissolve it in mild hot water (not on direct heat) preferably under 40 DC in order not to kill precious enzymes in it.

Depending upon a flower of the source, there are colour variation from transparent clear, golden or yellowish to darker or blackish one due to its difference of level of concentration of minerals contained.. Generally speaking the darker the colour, higher the medical effect..
Buckwheat honey is the darkest in colour with unique flavour and can expect all benefits of the honey. Chestnut is said to be also dark together with Manuka honey from New Zealand.
Even a same source, for example buckwheat, flavour and taste are different depending upon the producing area and its weather and the way to make it.... Same name brand but thousand of flavours and qualities in it...That's the honey and the wonder of the universe.

4) World Honey Production and the Danger of our Foods
In 1990's world production was about 1.2-1.3 million tons. Roughly China 200,000 tons, ex Soviet Union 200,000 tons, USA 100,000 tons, followed by Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and Turky...

In 2010 it increased to total 1.54 million M/T. (FAO statistic)
China  398,000M/T (26%),
 EU      203,660M/T (13%),
 Africa  179,400M/T (12%), Ethyopia 45,300M/T
 USA     79,800M/T (5.2%),
 Ohers 679,140M/T             Turky 81,115M/T (5.3%), Ukraine 70,800M/T (4.6%),  Argentina 59,000M/T due to bad weather but average of
                                          2005 - 2010 was 110,000M/T and ranked 2nd biggest country,.

Danger of our foods;
There are many negative issues for the decline of the production such as world-wide deterioration of the environmnet, change of climate etc.
In 1994 French beekeepers were the first to experience huge number of sudden deaths of their bees which they called "Mad Bee Disease"@and later it is named as CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). Bees, the pollinators, are disappearing at an alarming rate and many of our staple foods could vanish along with them says Mat Thomas. About 90% of world food supply is derived from just 100 crop species and 71 of them are pollinated by honeybees. Native pollinators such as bumblebees, bats and humming birds are also misteriously vanishing.
And it is believed that new class of agri-insecticides called "Neonicotinoids" are the main cause and are used on more than 140 crops. Death of the pollinators like honeybees also means the end of the crops which are relying upon the insects for pollination.
Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. The development of this class of insecticides began with work in the 1990s by Bayer. The neonicotinoids show reduced toxicity compared to previously used organophosphate and carbamate insecticides but contain poisonous neuro toxin that damages insects' brains, impairing their ability to communicate and navigate before killing. Their poisons together with other insecticides work synergistic interaction and multiplies their lethal toxicity. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world.
In the late 2000s some kinds of neonicotinoids began to come under increasing scrutiny over potential environmental impacts. The use of neonicotinoids was linked in a range of studies to a number of adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to reduction in insect populations. Increased scrutiny eventually led to restrictions and bans on the use of different neonicotinoids in several countries. US EPA gave Bayer's neonicotides concocted "Clothianidin" a Conditional Registration (report of the manufacturer on the impact to the ecology is requiered within one year from the release) in 2003 without doing adequit tests about impact on pollinators and Clothianidin has been sold and used more than 10 years and still said no report submitted. It is said that agrochemical industry earns $38 billions/year and the big 6 (BASF, Bayer, Dow, Dupont, Monsanto and Syngenta) shares more than 2/3 of its earning.

Meantime the trade conflicts on quality (2002-2004 EU banned import of Chinese honey due to antibiotics tainted honey, and US laid Anti-Dumping Duty to Chinese honey in same context with EU...as a consequence 18,000M/T import was drastically shrinked only to 1,500M/T and as of summer 2012 this Duty still remained in effect.These measures taken agaist China created another problem of illegal traffic of adulterated Chinese honey through 3rd party countries. One of the techniques used is the Ultra Filtering which removes all pollens from honey consequently appearance is clear and transparent but this Zero Pollen Honey is to hide the place of origin completely. If it's only a matter of pollens, it may not be so dangerous but reality is to dilute honey with sugar water, or even synthethize using sulfaric acid compound and residual agricultural chemicals...
Japan is buying 90% of total import of honey from China. But I wonder how many people know the danger of buying cheap low-end honey? China boosted its production nearly double in last decade and also boosted the troubles in the world too. Honey should be honey not just a sweet sugar with antibiotics nor product of sulfaric acid compound like water diluted milk with melamine added or cooking oil made from sewage..
But on the contrary demands are steadily increasing by health oriented peoples resulting rise of the market price despite of the suspicion on the safety and quality of the honey itself.

5) Ingredients and expected functions
Serious scientific study on honey seems to have started just a decade or two and could expect some more usefull ingredients hereafter. But currently it is said that honey contains about 180 ingredients. ie. 27 kinds of Minerals, 22 kinds of Amino Acids, 80 kinds of Enzymes and many Polyphenols all of which adjusts body functionality etc.....,

Here is the data from Foods Standard Ingredients 2010 published by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan
Energy            294 Kcal per 100g
Water             20.0g
Protein             0.2g
Lipid                0
Carbohydrate   79.7g (in case of buckwheat honey 79.6g)
Ash                  0.1g (in case of buckwheat honey 0.2mg)
Sodium             7mg
Potasium         13ng
Calcium            2mg
Magnesium        1mg
Phosphorus       4mg
Iron                 0.8mg (in case of buckwheat honey 5mg)
Zinc                 0.3mg
Copper            0.04mg
Chromium        1ʂ
Vitamin A, D, E and K   0ʂ
B1(Thiamin)       0.01mg
B2(Riboflavin)    0.01mg
Niacin               0.2mg
Folate              1ʂ
Pantothenic Acid 0.05mg
Biotin               1ʂ
Vitamin C          3mg
Colin                1.5mg

Expected Effects are said to be:
Disinfectant, Burn (Cure without scar), Abrasion, Cut & Wound, Eczema, Inflammations of oral mucosa, throat etc., Cough, Activation of Bowels and Liver, Constipation, Help disolution of Alcohol, Lower blood pressure by enlarging blood vessels, Recovery from fatigue, Stress Alleviation, Tranqulizer, Insomnia, Anemia, Life Style Diseases such as Myocardial Infarction, Arteriosclerosis, Diabetes and Cancers and even Rejeuvination with many polyphenols/enzymes effect etc...

Buckwheat Honey is mineral rich especially Iron which contains more than 6 times of other honey average which is higher than beef or eel liver and very close to the daily intake requirement of the young man 6mg/day and also contain Polyphenols 5 times more than other honeys. Polyphenols are antioxidant and remove free radicals/activated oxigen from our body and restrain the activity of carcinogens.
It is said that one spoonful buckwheat honey works far much better to stop coughing than the medicines sold in the drugstores

6) How to buy good honey

There are two styles of cropping honey. Morning Cropping and Evening Cropping.
When bees suck nectar from the flower, water content of the nectar is about 70% and together with their own secretion they put it to the honeycomb to dry and they dance on the honeycomb with full swing of their wings to dry the honey. Once having removed unnecessary water content, they seal it by beeswax for maturity and storage.
Morning Cropping is to crop only from sealed honeycomb. So Quality is very good.
But in case of Evening Cropping, crop is made from un-sealed honeycomb for quick and efficient way on the sacrifice of the quality. The bees' work is still on the way and water content is as high as 50-60% yet. So apiary have to remove water content by heating only resulting 3rd grade low-end honey. As you may remember, heating will destroy many enzymes and of course HMF value goes up

How to distinguish genuine honey from low-end or fake honey.
 *Buy low transparency and cloudy honey. Pollens are not transparent.
 *Buy bubbly honey. Enzymes make bubbles.
 *Buy crystallized honey. Getting solid is the proof of genuineness
 *Buy from reliable apiaries or shops.
 *Avoid cheap honey. It could be just a fake sweet liquid.

(8th Aug., 2013)

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