Month: December 2016

30 Dec

What FOXNEWS.COM says about Tualang Honey

Watch it here

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/20/is-this-honey-malaysias-healing-secret.html

Is this honey Malaysia’s healing secret?

A rare honey from the Malaysian rainforest shows benefits against inflammation, blood sugar disorders, infected wounds and respiratory problems. The harvesting of this honey is a risky business involving heights and angry giant bees.

Tualang honey, named after the trees from which it is obtained, is a highly-prized healing honey produced in Malaysia.  The bee that makes this honey builds its nests in the branches of the tall tropical trees of its namesake. Giant tualang trees have been measured as high as 289 feet tall. As you drive along roadways that go through areas of rainforest, you can easily observe tualang trees, which rise high above the canopy and are a grayish-white. Honey hunters often spot tualang trees from the road, and then hike into dense forest to get to the bases of the trees.

When the Malaysian rainforest blooms in spring, Asian honey bees known as Apis dorsata— the world’s largest— make large, parabolic-shaped honey combs which hang from the high limbs of the tualang trees. During this season, a single tree may host 100 hives. As much as 992 pounds of honey can be obtained from a fully laden tualang tree. Because the honey is so difficult to obtain, it is expensive. Thus harvesting the honey, for those who dare to do so, can be more profitable than other activities.

Harvesting this honey is risky, tricky, and very photogenic. Prior to climbing the trees, honey hunters fashion smoke torches out of dried coconut husk fiber wrapped in wide, green leaves. To reach the hives, honey hunters must climb up the immense trees, using ropes and hand-holds. Usually one hunter will climb, and a ground crew of two or more others will collect buckets of honey that are sent down to the ground attached to ropes. Once up in the tree, the hunters smoke the bees, and take much of the hive. It is fascinating and dangerous work, and Tualang honey hunters typically bear numerous scars from stings.

Tualang honey and the Tualang trees containing Apis dorsata honeycombs are found mostly in Kedah State, the northern-most state of Peninsular Malaysia. This is an area with some dense rainforest—the oldest anywhere, dating back  an estimated 130 million years. The wild-harvesting of Tualang honey creates market value and revenues, and helps to hedge against widespread deforestation.

Tualang honey is made from the nectars of many rainforest plants. The honey has been extensively analyzed, revealing a concentration of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, anti-bacterial compounds and other phytochemicals known to fight tumor growth and support cardiovascular health.

The most common way that Malaysian people use this unique honey is as a daily health tonic. One full teaspoon of Tualang honey in a couple of ounces of water makes an ambrosial elixir that delivers the honey’s benefits along with an exotic taste experience. As a topical aid, Tualang honey is used by native people to heal wounds, and to kill bacteria in skin infections. Like the New Zealand Manuka honey, Tualang honey is excellent for relieving a sore throat and for subduing symptoms of colds. A modest amount consumed daily appears to help stabilize blood sugar, and the honey demonstrates blood-pressure reducing effects.

At present Tualang honey is best found online, though some stores specializing in Southeast Asian food products may also carry the honey.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies, is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide, and is the author of fifteen books. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.

 

6 Dec

How to Verify the Purity of Honey

Fake and impure honeys have become commonplace in the market today, despite many people’s preference for 100% bee-produced honey. Unfortunately, unless you live in the European Union or Florida, you may not be able to trust “pure honey” labels. Because of the wide variety of honeys and the large number of sugar syrups or other ingredients that unscrupulous manufacturers dilute it with, no single home test is completely successful. Use several of these tests if possible to obtain a good guess about whether or not your honey is pure.

So, how can we differentiate 100% pure honey and adulterated honey?

There is a rising number of visitors to Benefits of Honey writing to me and asking this question. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a clear answer to this, but would like to share my experience and thoughts about this issue from a honey consumer perspective.

The term “adulterated honey” implies that the honey has been added glucose, dextrose, molasses, corn syrup, sugar syrup, invert sugar, flour, starch, or any other similar product, other than the floral nectar gathered, processed, and stored in the comb by honey bees. Legal standards and requirements for foods, including honey quality, and tests for honey adulteration vary widely amongst countries and some may not meet the wish of every consumer around the world.

Personally, when selecting honey in the shop, I think it’s almost impossible to tell the bad from the good by just looking at the honey content through the jar or studying its food and nutrition labels. My take is always — go for the trusted or better known brands. The best is to be able to ask the source or supplier of the honey questions about the honey origin and how the honey is harvested and processed to get an assurance on the quality. However, this is not always possible when we do not have direct access to bee farms and beekeepers. For commercial honey, we all know that a “pure honey” label doesn’t guarantee at all that it is not diluted with water and further sweetened with corn syrup; it just promises that there is real pure honey inside, with no suggestion of its amount. The law does not require a “pure honey” label to say how much pure honey is in the bottle. Also, prices are not always a good indication of quality honey. In food fraud cases, which happen a lot with Chinese honey, manufacturers can mix different honey floral blends and sell it as more expensive varieties such as Manuka honey. And so-called “local honey” may not be locally produced and processed local honey but cheap, low quality honey imported from other countries and then bottled and distributed locally.

A common misconception is that granulated or crystallized honey is proof of adulteration with sugar water. The truth is honey is a supersaturated sugar solution and can granulate whether or not it has been adulterated, so crystallization is normal, especially in temperate climates. Furthermore, some honey from certain floral sources is especially prone to crystallization. Buying honey in the comb is one way to assure ourselves of a quality product. Comb honey is sealed in the hive by the bees; therefore consumers can be confident that the honey has not been adulterated with sugar water. However, to boost honey production, some beekeepers feed their bees with sugar syrup so that the bees can convert the syrup to “honey”. Do such practices have any implications on why some honey appears to be very clear and runny, just like syrup?

Some of my web visitors strongly believe and teach that ants don’t fancy pure honey and will not hover around it. It’s hard to understand or believe this as there seems to be no reason why ants should favour processed sugar over honey and ants may not always be “available” at all places for a honey assessment (“no ants observed” may not necessarily mean pure honey). The reason why a sweet liquid is more attractive than another for the ants could also be due to other factors such as liquid density, flavors which vary depending on the floral types. Another test that is commonly discussed over the internet is the flame test which involves lighting up a cotton bud dipped into the honey with a match-stick flame. It’s believed that the honey will burn if it’s pure. I have tried this method many times using different types of honey, some of which I was very sure they’re pure honey (e.g honeycomb honey), but the result I got was never consistent, and it seemed to depend very much on how much honey was dipped and how long the honey was exposed to the flame.

There’s another simple way which I have tried to verify the purity of honey: Observe how liquid honey comes down into a glass of water. Pure honey does not immediately dissolve in water; you will notice that it takes a bit of effort to stir it in the water to dissolve the lumpy bits, whereas sugar tends to dissolve easily in a jiggery as you drop them into the water. However, test result is sometimes not that clear because different honey varieties have different viscosity, some are denser and thicker than others, and obviously honey in cream form, even if it’s adulterated with other substance, will not dissolve as easy as liquid honey in water.

It is suggested that people who are used to tasting honey may be easier to detect any added sugar. But frankly, because there are just too many floral varieties and blends, and the amount of adulteration may not be sufficient to affect the taste and aroma of the honey, even though I frequently take honey, I am still not 100% certain about my suspicion sometimes.

Hence, it’s hard to be really absolutely sure about honey authenticity, unless from home you can perform scientific laboratory test like spectroscopy, a method that uses the principle of interaction of light with mater to differentiate substances or conduct carbon isotope ratios analysis to determine if sugars were added to the honey (don’t bother if these jargons sound totally bizarre; as a consumer, I am not familiar with them either). Nevertheless, from all the verification ways that are discussed above (labels, pouring, dissolving honey, etc) if you have reasons to suspect that the honey is diluted and corn syrup has been added, my stance is – stay away from those brands. Better to err on the side of caution than to be sorry…well, you most probably won’t fall sick by taking the adulterated honey, but you know adulteration with cheaper sugars brings down the natural value of the honey and this doesn’t help in justifying for the amount of money you pay.

 

6 Dec

How to Verify the Purity of Honey

Fake and impure honeys have become commonplace in the market today, despite many people’s preference for 100% bee-produced honey. Unfortunately, unless you live in the European Union or Florida, you may not be able to trust “pure honey” labels. Because of the wide variety of honeys and the large number of sugar syrups or other ingredients that unscrupulous manufacturers dilute it with, no single home test is completely successful. Use several of these tests if possible to obtain a good guess about whether or not your honey is pure.

So, how can we differentiate 100% pure honey and adulterated honey?

There is a rising number of visitors to Benefits of Honey writing to me and asking this question. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a clear answer to this, but would like to share my experience and thoughts about this issue from a honey consumer perspective.

The term “adulterated honey” implies that the honey has been added glucose, dextrose, molasses, corn syrup, sugar syrup, invert sugar, flour, starch, or any other similar product, other than the floral nectar gathered, processed, and stored in the comb by honey bees. Legal standards and requirements for foods, including honey quality, and tests for honey adulteration vary widely amongst countries and some may not meet the wish of every consumer around the world.

Personally, when selecting honey in the shop, I think it’s almost impossible to tell the bad from the good by just looking at the honey content through the jar or studying its food and nutrition labels. My take is always — go for the trusted or better known brands. The best is to be able to ask the source or supplier of the honey questions about the honey origin and how the honey is harvested and processed to get an assurance on the quality. However, this is not always possible when we do not have direct access to bee farms and beekeepers. For commercial honey, we all know that a “pure honey” label doesn’t guarantee at all that it is not diluted with water and further sweetened with corn syrup; it just promises that there is real pure honey inside, with no suggestion of its amount. The law does not require a “pure honey” label to say how much pure honey is in the bottle. Also, prices are not always a good indication of quality honey. In food fraud cases, which happen a lot with Chinese honey, manufacturers can mix different honey floral blends and sell it as more expensive varieties such as Manuka honey. And so-called “local honey” may not be locally produced and processed local honey but cheap, low quality honey imported from other countries and then bottled and distributed locally.

A common misconception is that granulated or crystallized honey is proof of adulteration with sugar water. The truth is honey is a supersaturated sugar solution and can granulate whether or not it has been adulterated, so crystallization is normal, especially in temperate climates. Furthermore, some honey from certain floral sources is especially prone to crystallization. Buying honey in the comb is one way to assure ourselves of a quality product. Comb honey is sealed in the hive by the bees; therefore consumers can be confident that the honey has not been adulterated with sugar water. However, to boost honey production, some beekeepers feed their bees with sugar syrup so that the bees can convert the syrup to “honey”. Do such practices have any implications on why some honey appears to be very clear and runny, just like syrup?

Some of my web visitors strongly believe and teach that ants don’t fancy pure honey and will not hover around it. It’s hard to understand or believe this as there seems to be no reason why ants should favour processed sugar over honey and ants may not always be “available” at all places for a honey assessment (“no ants observed” may not necessarily mean pure honey). The reason why a sweet liquid is more attractive than another for the ants could also be due to other factors such as liquid density, flavors which vary depending on the floral types. Another test that is commonly discussed over the internet is the flame test which involves lighting up a cotton bud dipped into the honey with a match-stick flame. It’s believed that the honey will burn if it’s pure. I have tried this method many times using different types of honey, some of which I was very sure they’re pure honey (e.g honeycomb honey), but the result I got was never consistent, and it seemed to depend very much on how much honey was dipped and how long the honey was exposed to the flame.

There’s another simple way which I have tried to verify the purity of honey: Observe how liquid honey comes down into a glass of water. Pure honey does not immediately dissolve in water; you will notice that it takes a bit of effort to stir it in the water to dissolve the lumpy bits, whereas sugar tends to dissolve easily in a jiggery as you drop them into the water. However, test result is sometimes not that clear because different honey varieties have different viscosity, some are denser and thicker than others, and obviously honey in cream form, even if it’s adulterated with other substance, will not dissolve as easy as liquid honey in water.

It is suggested that people who are used to tasting honey may be easier to detect any added sugar. But frankly, because there are just too many floral varieties and blends, and the amount of adulteration may not be sufficient to affect the taste and aroma of the honey, even though I frequently take honey, I am still not 100% certain about my suspicion sometimes.

Hence, it’s hard to be really absolutely sure about honey authenticity, unless from home you can perform scientific laboratory test like spectroscopy, a method that uses the principle of interaction of light with mater to differentiate substances or conduct carbon isotope ratios analysis to determine if sugars were added to the honey (don’t bother if these jargons sound totally bizarre; as a consumer, I am not familiar with them either). Nevertheless, from all the verification ways that are discussed above (labels, pouring, dissolving honey, etc) if you have reasons to suspect that the honey is diluted and corn syrup has been added, my stance is – stay away from those brands. Better to err on the side of caution than to be sorry…well, you most probably won’t fall sick by taking the adulterated honey, but you know adulteration with cheaper sugars brings down the natural value of the honey and this doesn’t help in justifying for the amount of money you pay.

 

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