There is something undeniably enchanting about honey; the product of flower nectar transformed by bees, as if by alchemy – but in fact through the far less-poetic act of regurgitation – into a sweet, golden elixir. Honey has held sway over humans since ancient times.
But aside from honey’s seductive color and flavor, it has some scientific superpowers that add to its appeal. Honey has an unusual chemical composition, one which makes it keep indefinitely without spoiling; as is seen whenever ancient pots of honey, still perfectly preserved, are found during excavations of early Egyptian tombs. It is uniquely low in moisture and extremely acidic, making it a forbidding environment for bacteria and microorganisms. On top of that, bees add an enzyme, glucose oxidase, to it that creates hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct. According to the National Institutes of Health, honey is hygroscopic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has remarkable debriding action. Who knew?