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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Medicinal Uses of Honey

Honey has a long medicinal history. The ancient Egyptians not only made offerings of honey to their gods, they also used it as an embalming fluid and a dressing for wounds. On that last point, at least, they were on to something.

Today, many people swarm to honey for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Holistic practitioners consider it one of nature's best all-around remedies.

But outside of the laboratory, claims for honey's healthfulness are unproven -- except in the area of wound care and, to a lesser extent, cough suppression.

Here's the truth behind the claims about honey's health benefits -- and an important warning.

Never Give Honey to an Infant

Honey is natural and considered harmless for adults. But pediatricians strongly caution against feeding honey to children under 1 year old.

"Do not let babies eat honey," states foodsafety.gov, a web site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That's because of the risk of botulism. The spores of the botulism bacteria are found in dust and soil that may make their way into honey. Infants do not have a developed immune system to defend against infection, says Jatinder Bhatia, MD, a Georgia neonatologist who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Nutrition.

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