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Are You Using Honey The Wrong Way?

Everyone from your parents to Gwyneth Paltrow is convinced of the bee-nefits of honey. But you could be wasting your money on that exorbitant jar of gooey sweetness, says Jason Koh, one of fewer than five people in Singapore who hold a diploma in apitherapy, or bee therapy.

Jason Koh, 33, is business development director of honey and bee products e-store, Go Pure, who revamped his parents’ traditional distribution business — which hawks honey, bee pollen and propolis (a dark sticky extract from bee hives), among others — into one that’s hip and millennial-friendly.

The son of the secretary of the International Bee Association decided to turn his attention to the family business when he returned to Singapore during the SARS outbreak in 2003. “I knew how bee products can help the body to heal and strengthen the immune system, but I was wondering why my dad wasn’t pushing the product out to people at that time,” he says.

He speaks from experience, having taken bee products as supplements daily when he was living Down Under. “I hardly fell sick even though I was partying every other night,” he laughs.

Jason is one of a handful of folks in Singapore armed with a diploma in apitherapy (a study in the health benefits of bee products). Photo: Ealbert Ho

#1: Manuka honey isn’t the only good kind of honey around.

You make a beeline for the Manuka honey aisle at the supermarket ’cos it’s the best, right? Wrong. “All kinds of honey are good for you. But it has to be pure honey — there’s a lot of fake honey out there. Different types of honey have different health benefits. For example, Manuka honey is good for digestion. So, if you have different conditions, you should take different kinds of honey, not just Manuka honey,” explains Jason.

#2: You’re eating your honey the wrong way.

If you start your day with a glass of honey and lemon juice mixed with boiling hot water, Stop. Right. Now. “Because of the enzymes which are ‘alive’, you’re not supposed to use a metal spoon to mix honey, store it in direct sunlight, or mix it with water that’s hotter than 60°C. Otherwise, the enzymes are killed off and you’re just wasting your honey. Enzymes thrive best at 38°C.”

#3: It’s not always about the colour of the honey.

“A misconception is that you can tell real honey from the fakes by looking at the colour. Actually, it’s the type of flower that the honey comes from which affects its colour. A very dark colour means that it’s picked from a few types of flowers. Pure honey is also not that fluid since it contains only 18.8 per cent of liquid — bees flap their wings inside the hive to evaporate the liquid, which is their saliva. Lastly, if honey turns sour when you add hot water, then it’s real honey. Enzymes are the reason the honey is sweet. When you add heat, the enzymes die and [it’s not sweet anymore].”

#4: Consume honey from different flowers at different times of the day.

“Honey from different flowers have different medical benefits. We mainly sell acacia and linden honey. The former helps to improve blood circulation, boost your immune system and gives you an energy boost. It also has a sweeter taste. Take it in the morning as a spread on bread, mix it with yoghurt or have it with lukewarm coffee or tea. Linden honey is best taken at night, half an hour before you sleep. It relaxes you, and relieves anxiety and stress, and helps you sleep better. It can be a bit sour. Not all honey tastes identical — if it does, then you know it’s synthetic honey.”

#5: Try unconventional ways of using honey.

“I’ve used honey as a face mask and even for mosquito bites. (Laughs) But it has to be all natural and pure honey — it has anti-bacterial functions — not just any ol’ kind of honey. But what’s more effective is propolis, which is a very thick black sticky substance found outside beehives. When bees return from collecting honey and pollen from flowers, they use the propolis to cleanse first, before entering the hive. Propolis extracts are great for healing bites, wounds or cuts. It forms a protective layer on the skin when you apply it, and it doesn’t only speed up the healing process, it heals without scarring. It’s very high in antioxidants. Singers and emcees have also been using propolis mouth sprays to kill germs in the mouth, and prevent cavities, ulcers, sore throats and coughs.”

Go Pure products are available at www.gopure.sg.

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