The nectar of this flower tastes like honey — and it fights infections just as well

Volume 7    |   Issue 74

It's common knowledge that honey has wonderful antimicrobial properties. You can't beat the taste. But every summer, my kids get excited about a particular flower that blooms in our yard. This flower has wonderful nectar that tastes like honey. And studies are showing that it might be just as good at fighting infections as honey.

The flower is the honeysuckle. It grows on a vine and has beautiful stamen in the middle that are just begging my kids to pull them out. When they do, there's a small drop of nectar at the end that comes out as they pull. They quickly put that drop of nectar on their tongues and roll their eyes like they're in heaven.

Turns out, the Chinese have used honeysuckle in their medicine for years. They typically turn it into a tea and use it to fight off infection. So it's not surprising that some Chinese researchers at Nanjing University decided to see if there was any scientific basis for drinking the tea for medicinal purposes.

Here's what they said about their results: "The results show that honeysuckle decoction has a broad-spectrum anti-viral activity."


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They found that honeysuckle has a molecule called MIR2911. The molecule survives even after you mash it up and boil it. They also found that when mice drank honeysuckle tea, the molecule moved into their plasma and lung tissue. That's where it was able to fight the flu.

Turns out, honeysuckle targets two genes that flu viruses need to replicate. Scientists call these genes PB2 and NS1. The researchers found that by targeting these genes, the honeysuckle protected the mice from getting H1N1, also known as swine flu, and H5N1, which is avian or bird flu. What's more, the honeysuckle tea greatly reduced mouse mortality due to H5N1.

But there were two other findings in this study that were particularly shocking. One was that the honeysuckle tea seemed to work against viruses that had mutated. And the second was that the honeysuckle can fight another virus — Ebola. The team said that MIR2911 "directly targets the Ebola virus." That's exciting news. I'd love to see if it will fight the Zika virus as well. All indications are that it will.

So if you want to protect yourself against the flu and other potentially deadly viruses, feel free to drink some honeysuckle tea. This study was on mice, so we don't know for sure if it will translate to humans. But the Chinese think it will. And it tastes great. So enjoy! I suspect its ability to fight viruses will help you stay healthy this winter.

Your insider for better health,



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