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Simple, common honey is one of the most ancient of herbal medicines and a great ally to a healthy heart.

This is in direct contrast to refined white sugar, which many believe is a cause of heart and blood vessel disease.

Honey is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial agent. Studies have found that regular consumption of honey decreases cholesterol, lowers HDL, reduces homocysteine, and even brings down C-reactive protein. Honey increases the benefits derived from fermented foods and aids in absorption of calcium as well. (Calcium helps muscles, like the heart, not just the bones.)

An enzyme in bee saliva converts flower nectar to honey. The darker the honey, the more powerful the effects. And one of the very best ways to increase the medicinal activity of honey is to pour it over aromatic herbs and let them steep together for a while.

In the photograph you can see part of my shelf of medicinal honeys: sage, rosemary, marjoram, dandelion blossom, shiso, mints of all types, lemon balm. A spoonful in a cup of hot water and you have an instant remedy for sore throat, coughs, and mild colds.

If you live where it is warm, make some medicinal honey today. Just cut any edible aromatic herb fine, stuff a jar full and fill the jar to the top with honey. I poke mine with a chopstick to be certain the honey has gone all the way to the bottom. Check the next day and add more honey if need be.

If you live where it is cold, perhaps you have a rosemary or a sage plant overwintering in your house. If you do, they would love a trim about now. It will jump start new growth. Just use the trimmings to make your medicinal honey.

In a placebo-controlled trial, the coughs of children who received honey were relieved twice as fast as those who received the most common over-the-counter medication for coughs. (The placebo group got well at about the same rate as those receiving the OTC cough syrup.)

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