Ingredients and Uses

14 Unexpected Side Effects Of Honey

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
14 Unexpected Side Effects Of Honey September 19, 2017

Honey has become the go to ingredient for most people these days.

Want to shed kilos? Substitute your morning tea with warm water, lemon and honey. Drizzle it on top of your dessert for a distinct flavor!Cut your sugar intake without compromising on the sweetness with the help of honey.

But does honey deserve all the love in the world? Most importantly, is it completely safe? We’ll get to that. First, let’s go through the impressive and ‘well-boasted’ profile of this sweet goodness.

Honey—A Brief

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Other Names-Shahad’ (Hindi), ‘Thene’ (Telugu), ‘Then’ (Tamil), ‘Thean’ (Malayalam), ‘Jenu’ (Kannada), ‘Madh’ (Gujarati & Marathi) and ‘Madhu’ (Bengali).

Honey has been an integral part of the countless cultures around the world for the past 2000 years. It was and is still used in the traditional medicines like Ayurveda and ancient Chinese treatments. Scientists have also delved deep to unveil its advantages to evolve modern medicine practice.

All in all, honey is popular—better than several other sweeteners, but it’s not perfect. Well, nothing in nature is. It does contain a number of side effects, which when ruled out can harm you.

Don’t worry! A little bit of research and our list can help you be on the safer side.

Top 14 Side Effects Of Honey

  1. May Cause Food Poisoning
  2. May Cause Botulism In Infants
  3. Abdominal Discomfort
  4. May Cause Allergic Reactions
  5. Anaphylactic Shock
  6. May Spike Blood Sugar Levels
  7. Lowers Blood Pressure Level
  8. Nerve Damage
  9. Weight Gain
  10. Tooth Decay
  11. May Cause Internal Bleeding
  12. Drug Interactions
  13. Toxic Reactions
  14. May Cause Infections

Let us check the top 14 side effects of honey:

1. May Cause Food Poisoning

It is mostly the result of raw honey consumption.

If you ever consume unpasteurized honey, the chances are high that you will become vulnerable to food poisoning. As it is neither heated nor processed, it may contain foreign particles, such as pollen, tiny pieces of bee wings, propolis, honeycomb bits. These may eventually trigger digestive system disorder in the user (1).

Prevention Method

So if you have a weak digestive system, I suggest you stay away from the raw variety of honey.

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2. May Cause Botulism In Infants

Honey shouldn’t be given to a toddler who is yet to reach his first year.

Raw honey may comprise toxic Clostridium botulinum spores. When consumed by infants under the age of 12 months, it can lead to a severe medical condition called ‘botulism.’ This is basically a poisoning caused by bee venom, and your baby might experience its symptoms (2).

Some of the symptoms are fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, constipation, irritability, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, loss of appetite, respiratory arrest, muscle paralysis, etc.

Better be safe than sorry!

Prevention Method

Don’t give honey to infants before the age of 12 years. If an infant shows any of the aforementioned symptoms post honey intake, take them to the doctor immediately.

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3. Abdominal Discomfort

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Overconsumption of honey may cause severe abdominal pain.

Being rich in fructose, it can interrupt the nutrient absorption capacity of your small intestine (3, 4). It can also impose long-term effects on your gastrointestinal system and cause several gastric issues, such as bloating, gas, cramps, etc. Sometimes it also leads to acute conditions like diarrhea or an upset stomach.

Prevention Method

If your abdomen feels different post taking honey, stop. And consult your doctor right away to understand what the underlying condition could be.

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4. May Cause Allergic Reactions

Ingestion of raw honey can also give you mild to moderate allergies. This situation can get worse in those who are allergic to pollen grains.

It is the unprocessed nectar of flowers that may contain pollen, pesticides, insecticides, and lots of other chemicals (5). Its direct consumption can lead to the development of allergic symptoms like swelling, itching, inflammation, rashes, hives, puffiness, cough, asthma, wheezing, iritis, breathing troubles, difficulty in swallowing, and so on.

Prevention Method

When faced with such allergies, mild or not, one should directly contact a health care expert.

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5. Anaphylactic Shock

Eating raw honey and in larger doses can cause severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. It holds allergens in most cases, which generate a grave medical condition called ‘anaphylactic shock’ (6, 7).

This condition is characterized by whole-body allergy along with dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, hypotension, heart failure, etc. This is a serious side effect of honey as it can sometimes even lead to death.

Prevention Method

If you frequently suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above even without taking honey, then you must consult a doctor asking if you can take honey at all. And if you see any of the symptoms after taking honey, visit your doctor immediately.

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6. May Spike Blood Sugar Levels

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If you want to keep your blood sugar level under control, limit your daily consumption of honey.

It is not only high in sucrose but also contains a large amount of glucose, which increases the blood glucose level marker – HbA1c in the blood. In other words, the sweet and thick solution raises the blood sugar level in your bloodstream, creating the condition for diabetes.

Prevention Method

If you have issues with your blood sugar levels or are on diabetic medications,should take their doctor’s advice before going for honey. They will prescribe you a proper dose of honey that wouldn’t interfere with your medication.

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7. Lowers Blood Pressure Level

Honey can lower the blood pressure level significantly, which sometimes may turn out to be bad for your health.

It consists of oligosaccharides which, being a certain kind of carbohydrate with antioxidant properties, can reduce elevated blood pressure level to a large extent. At times, the blood pressure level even goes below the average level, triggering a number of health issues.

So keep in mind your dose, and you will do fine.

Prevention Method

If you blood pressure levels frequently fall down, honey may not be a good option. Avoid it.

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8. Nerve Damage

This natural sweetener can also hurt your nerves.

Raw honey consists of a group of chemical compounds called ‘grayanotoxins’, which are poisonous to our nervous system (8). In general, these toxins are eliminated from the food during its pasteurization. But, when raw honey is consumed, they come into action and damage our nerve cells. As a result, it interrupts the normal activities of our nervous system.

Prevention Method

Avoid honey if you have previously suffered from (or are suffering from) any kind of mental condition.

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9. Weight Gain

Obesity is something that can ruin your overall health, and honey can be the culprit.

As honey contains calories in high amount, it contributes heavily to one’s body weight. Additionally, it holds simple carbohydrates in place of complex ones, which break down easily in the body as soon as it is consumed. As a result, the energy is piled up as body fat, and you end up gaining excess weight.

Prevention Method

Always remember, honey can actually help burn fat if taken in moderation. Use lemon and honey water weight loss hack.

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10. Tooth Decay

Just like sugar, too much of honey can harm your teeth.

According to researchers, honey is made up of 82% sugar (natural sugars – glucose and fructose). It means that one tablespoon of honey can give you almost 17 grams of sugar.

Consuming honey every day in large volumes can stimulate bacterial activities inside our mouth. Its consumption leads to tooth decay to a considerable extent.

Prevention Method

If you want to maintain the health of your teeth and prevent oral cavity, try to keep your intake of honey under control.

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11. May Cause Internal Bleeding

Honey should be avoided by people that have bleeding disorders or are taking drugs that may increase the risk of internal bleeding.

This natural substance should not be used with natural herbs and ingredients like Ginkgo Biloba, garlic and saw palmetto.

If you still want to try it out, consulting your healthcare expert is a desirable option. They will help adjust your medication in a way that it won’t cause any harm to your health.

Prevention Method

Avoid honey if you are already on blood-thinning medications. Also, if you are suffering from any form of internal bleeding, avoid its use.

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12. Drug Interactions

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This natural sweetener should be used cautiously by those taking antibiotics, stomach or intestine medications, anticoagulants like warfarin, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, nervous system agents, heart medications, and weight loss supplementation (9).

Also, honey can heavily alter the regular process of drugs that use the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme. This may cause severe health issues.

Prevention Method

If you are on antibiotics or any other drugs (anti-inflammatory drugs especially), avoid honey intake. Also, consult your doctor regarding the same.

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13. Toxic Reactions

Honey that is produced from the nectar of Rhododendrons is known to contain certain toxins that may cause adverse reactions in the system (10).

This type affects the cardiovascular system directly, and cause low blood pressure, chest pain, and several other heart problems.

Prevention Method

You probably must check the source of the honey before purchasing. If you have had reactions or allergies with its use in the past, consult a doctor before using it.

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14. May Cause Infections

Honey might be appealing and tasty, but it should be avoided by those who have a weak immune system. It may increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infection in the body.

Prevention Method

If you tend to have a weak immune system, avoid honey consumption.

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Choosing The Right Type Of Honey

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Now, is honey safe for consumption?

Yes. It definitely is. Provided you stick to the limits and go for a suitable variety.

There are about 300 types of honey available in the market. Some are popular and readily available, like Manuka, Buckwheat, Acacia, And Neem, and others are not. They all have different compositions that they owe to the environment condition in which bees were harvested.

So choosing one out of the many can be a difficult choice.

Only, it isn’t. Simply go for the darker varieties.

Why dark honey, though?

Well, that’s a secret…shhhhh…Okay, it isn’t. The darker and denser varieties have higher nutrient and antioxidant content that work well with our health. They are tastier too. When compared to their ‘lighter’ counterparts, dark honey is sweeter. This means you will need only half the regular quantity to get the same sweetness. Say bye bye to extra calories, fellas!

Recommended Dosage Of Honey

I have been telling you throughout to look for the quantity of honey and stick to moderation. But I never answered the most important question that must be bugging in your mind right now.

How much honey is too much?

Honestly, there are no strict rules and regulations regarding honey dosage. It all rounds off to the daily added sugar consumption limit. A healthy person should not take more than 100 calories of added sugar daily, that makes about six teaspoons on an everyday basis.

All in all, honey is wonderful and contributes to better health, only if taken in moderation. Stay within limits and enjoy the sweet taste of honey without any worries.

Was this information on honey side effects helpful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Stay fit, stay healthy!

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The one with a constant energy that can leave you awed, Tanya can jump around and talk for the whole day. If not found writing away the desired articles, she can easily be spotted glued to the youtube, eyes wide, spazzing over the perfection of her favorite singer. Functioning without music (Bollywood, Hollywood, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and what not- Because music is music), and a big cup of tea is an impossibility for her. Ever heard of a totally weird soul that could go frenzy over the smell of a book, especially if it's a Dan Brown or Lee Child? Yep! That would be her.
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