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Experts: This Honey Can Help Women Ease Hot Flashes, Boost Libido + More

Plus, what look for when shopping to make sure you're getting the real deal

Most of us have a jar of honey in our pantries that we use to sweeten a cup of tea or stir into yogurt. But it turns out the kitchen staple is more than just delicious — it’s good for you, too. The health benefits of honey for women are especially potent. Whether you’re dealing with menopausal hormone flux or low libido from stress, the natural sweetener can help. Here, discover the benefits of honey for women, plus all the other ways honey enhances your health.

What type of honey benefits women?

There are three main types of honey: “regular” processed honey, raw honey and Manuka. When it comes to the benefits of honey for women, raw honey is your best bet. Raw honey has a remarkably long shelf-life and is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s not heated, pasteurized or filtered. That means the sweet stuff stays in its purest state, preserving healthful nutrients (Have a cold? Click through to learn how about spicy honey benefits.)

Another good option: Manuka honey, which comes from Australia and New Zealand. It brims with potent antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, explains Diana Hoppe, MD, a University of California-educated ob/gyn and women’s health specialist and author of Healthy Sex Drive, Health You. Some Manuka honey can be pasteurized or filtered, so Dr. Hoppe recommends checking labels for the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). “The higher the UMF number, the more unadulterated the honey,” she explains.

How to identify raw honey

Raw honey has a unique flavor since it’s made directly from the honeycomb. It contains all of the natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients found in flower nectar. And because it’s neither heated nor filtered to remove pollen grains and other particles, it retains its natural color and nutritional content. So, how do you know if you’re getting the real deal? Here’s how to identify raw honey:

1. Check the label

Raw honey will be labeled “raw” or “unpasteurized.” If it reads “honey” with no additional descriptors, it’s likely been pasteurized, processed, heated or filtered. 

2. Read the ingredients

If the label lists any other ingredients besides honey, it’s probably not raw. Real raw honey is 100% pure and contains no additives (such as sugar, corn syrup or preservatives).

3. Taste it

Raw honey has a distinctive flavor that’s dramatically different from processed honey. This is due to its high pollen content. If you don’t taste anything special when you take a spoonful, then there’s a good chance it isn’t raw.

4. Look at the color

Raw honey comes in many shades, from dark amber to light yellow, depending on the type of nectar used by the bees. Processed honey is often very light in color and can appear translucent or almost clear.

5. Smell it

Raw honey has an earthy, floral scent that is noticeably stronger than processed honey. If you don’t smell anything, the honey is likely not raw.

A honey dipper drizzling honey over fresh honeycombs, which has benefits for women
mars58/Getty

Related: Did Your Honey Crystallize? Don’t Throw It Out! Here’s How To Make It Smooth Again

The health benefits of honey for women

Now that you know what to look for, you can start tapping into the healing power of honey. Here’s how honey benefits women in particular:

1. It steadies blood sugar

When estrogen levels dip during menopause, our ability to keep blood sugar stable becomes impaired. This can lead to new symptoms or exacerbate existing ones, like brain fog, irritability and difficulty losing or maintaining weight. Fortunately, honey has a lower glycemic impact than regular sugar, meaning it won’t cause as rapid and dramatic of a rise in blood sugar. “By limiting sugar intake, especially sugars like high fructose corn syrup, blood sugar levels will be more stabilized,” explains Dr. Hoppe.

Another way balancing blood sugar benefits women? It keeps hot flashes in check. “Hot flashes are best managed by maintaining stable blood sugar,” says Alisa Vitti, a functional nutrition and women’s hormone expert and the CEO and Founder of FLO Living. In fact, research in PLoS One found women who reported the most severe hot flashes had higher blood sugar levels and more insulin resistance than those with mild-to-moderate hot flashes. 

Related: The Chlorogenic Acid in Coffee May Help Balance Blood Sugar and Ward Off Diabetes

2. It strengthens bones

Estrogen is a key building block of bone, helping to rebuild and strengthen your skeleton. According to Dr. Hoppe, women lose about 25% of their bone mass during perimenopause and menopause. And when we add in oxidative stress, an imbalance of antioxidants that stresses the body and causes cell damage, bone loss can worsen.

The good news? Research in Antioxidants found that honey can tame oxidative stress. Plus, it contains bone-building nutrients like vitamin D3. “Adequate amounts of vitamin D3 are essential to maintain bone health, as well as boosting immune function and even decreasing cancer recurrence,” says Dr. Hoppe. Indeed, shoring up your levels of the vitamin can reduce fracture risk by 33%. (Click through for other natural bone builders that ward off osteoporosis.)

An illustration of the stage of osteoporosis
Honey can help ward off the progression of osteoporosis, or weak and brittle bones.ART4STOCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

3. It boosts libido

A lagging sex drive is a common issue when estrogen and testosterone drop off during menopause. Boron-rich honey may help the body use these hormones more effectively, suggests research in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. What’s more, research from the USDA found that postmenopausal women who increased their intake of boron had significantly more estrogen and testosterone. Some study subjects even doubled their levels of these hormones.

If you’re experiencing low libido caused by other factors, like stress or medications, honey may also help. Honey increases your levels of nitrite, a stable form of nitric oxide that improves blood flow. “Nitric oxide improves vasodilation of the tissue of the clitoris and vagina, which improves sensitivity and arousal,” explains Vitti. And Dr. Hoppe adds that medications for men like Viagra and Cialis use the same mechanism of increasing nitric oxide to increase blood flow and boost arousal. (Click through to learn how maca root powder boosts libido, too.)

Related: More Feel-Good Guaranteed: The Natural Remedies That Cure Low Libido In Women

4. It calms hot flashes

When menopausal symptoms like hot flashes occur, it’s often due to depleting estrogen levels. To shore up levels of the hormone, savor more foods with phytoestrogens like honey. “Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds derived from plants, which are structurally similar to 17β-estradiol — the main type of estrogen that our body makes during our reproductive years,” explains Dr. Hoppe. When phytoestrogens are present, the body interprets them as real estrogen to help ease symptoms. A review of 15 studies confirms that increasing intake of phytoestrogen-rich foods can notably reduce the frequency of hot flashes. (Click through for more natural menopause treatments that work.)

More health benefits of honey

While honey has potent benefits for women, it can improve your overall health, too. Here’s where the sweetener really shines:

1. It reduces inflammation

Honey is full of antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids that combat free radicals and help reduce inflammation in the body. This helps protect your cells from oxidative damage and reduces your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease. What’s more, raw honey straight from the beehive also contains high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants that help support your immunity. (Click through to learn how honey in tea can soothe a sore throat, and how garlic and honey speeds cold recovery.)

2. It aids digestion 

If you suffer from indigestion or digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), acid reflux or stomach ulcers, consider adding raw honey to your diet. Its enzymes help break down food in the intestine, improving digestion. Additionally, the probiotics in raw honey help restore balance in your gut flora, which may also improve other digestive issues.

3. It improves sleep

The combination of fructose and glucose found in raw honey help you get a good night’s sleep. Research shows consuming small amounts of glucose before bedtime promotes restful sleep. By slightly raising insulin levels, glucose increases the concentration of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps regulate serotonin production to help induce sleepiness. So, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, consider having a spoonful of raw honey before bed. (Click through for more ways to help you fall asleep at night.)

A woman happily asleep in bed, one of the benefits of honey
ilona titova/Getty

4. It soothes skin

Raw honey is incredibly soothing for skin issues like acne, eczema and psoriasis. The antibacterial properties of raw honey can help cleanse skin and reduce inflammation. This eases redness, itching and irritation. What’s more, raw honey is a humectant, which means it helps retain moisture for softer, smoother skin. (Click through to learn how tea tree oil calms eczema, too.)

5. It calms coughs

Raw honey is an effective cough suppressant, especially those suffering from upper respiratory infections. The antibacterial properties of raw honey help fight bacteria that can cause coughing, while its anti-inflammatory properties reduce congestion and irritation in the throat. Additionally, raw honey is extremely soothing for a sore throat, especially when combined with teas that help coat the throat to tame irritation.

Related: Spicy Honey Is the Sweet-Hot Cure for Coughs, Congestion + Sore Throat, Say MDs

6. It lowers cholesterol

Raw honey contains natural antioxidants that help combat the free radicals that damage cells and lead to high cholesterol. Additionally, the polyphenols in raw honey reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels while increasing good (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body, suggests research in Nutrition Reviews. When taken regularly, raw honey may help lower your risk of cardiovascular issues.

7. It boosts energy

The glucose and fructose in honey provide your body with an immediate source of energy to help you outsmart an afternoon slump. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals (like potassium and magnesium) needed to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. If you need a quick pick-me-up, savor a spoonful of raw honey or stir it into oatmeal or yogurt.

A woman in a yellow top in front of a blue brick wall smiling, thanks to the benefits of honey for women
Tim Robberts/Getty

8. It eases allergies

Raw honey contains small amounts of bee pollen. Because of this, regularly consuming raw honey builds immunity and reduces sensitivity to allergens. The result: You’ll alleviate allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

Related: Got Allergies? This TikTok Hack Claims to Unblock A Stuffy Nose in Minutes — No Medication Required

How to tap into the benefits of honey for women

Ready to enjoy the health benefits of honey? Here are some delicious ways to work it into your daily diet.

  • Sweetening beverages: Honey is a wonderful natural sweetener for tea, coffee and even fruit smoothies.
  • Flavoring foods: Add a hint of sweetness to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods by drizzling them with honey.
  • Making DIY beauty products: You can use raw Manuka honey and other raw honey varieties to make homemade beauty products like facial masks, lip balms, and body scrubs.

For more on the healing power of honey:

Spicy Honey Is the Sweet-Hot Cure for Coughs, Congestion + Sore Throat, Say MDs

Honey for Acid Reflux: Does it Really Work?

Greek Yogurt With Honey Can Speed Weight Loss (And Tastes Great!)

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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