As well as being a food, honey has been used therapeutically in traditional forms of medicine throughout history. The main active principles in honey appear to be the same active principles found in the plants from which the bees derive the honey, and this can vary between hives depending on the location of the colony and the varieties of surrounding flora. One of the mechanisms by which honey may have beneficial properties is through a significant anti-inflammatory effect. This effect may relate to the flavonoids contained within the honey, that are present in the nectar of the plants collected by the bees. Experimental models show that the flavonoids within honey are able to inhibit a number of inflammatory enzymes including cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and nitric oxide synthase. In addition the flavonoids in honey may be able to inhibit a number of proinflammatory pathways initiated by cytokines and chemokines. Therefore experimental data supports the role for honey as a medicinally beneficial food.
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