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Yemeni honey is a type of honey produced in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen that is renowned for its flavor and medicinal qualities. It is a type of monofloral honey that has a distinct taste due to the fact that the bees that produce it generally only gather nectar from one type of flower, the flowers of the Sidr or Lote tree. The Sidr tree's botanical name is Ziziphus spina-christi, which means "Christ's Thorn Jujube," and is a tree native throughout parts of Africa and Asia that is cultivated for its edible fruit and other parts.
The Sidr tree is of special significance to the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions, as it is believed to be the species from which Christ's crown of thorns was made. It is also significant in Islamic history as its jujube fruit is believed to be the first thing that Adam, the first man, ate according to Islamic tradition when he descended to Earth. Concentrations of the tree grow throughout the western mountainous region of Yemen where honey production is an important commercial activity, and local bee populations rely on it for their primary source of nectar. The history of Yemeni honey originating from this region can be traced back to ancient times in Egyptian records, and, due to both its rarity and quality, it can sell for high prices around the world.
Among the types of ailments that Yemeni honey is said to be effective at treating are stomach ulcers, skin conditions, and insomnia. Singers are reported to use it as it is a soothing way to relieve sore throats as well. It is also considered to be effective at promoting the healing of a wide range of wounds.
Yemeni honey is believed to have originated in the Wadi Do'an or Do'an valley region of Yemen. Native beekeepers assemble in the region every year to harvest the honey, and samples of it were tested along with manuka honey by researchers at the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 2008, for their antibacterial qualities. Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that live on nectar from the manuka bush. Both types of honey proved more effective at inhibiting strains of staphylococcus bacteria than routine antibiotics did. The research suggests that Yemeni honey might, therefore, be an effective treatment for alleviating cold symptoms like chronic sinusitis, headaches, and difficulty in breathing.
Not only are the flowers of the tree useful to bees, but local populations revere the tree so much that they use the leaves, resin oils, bark, and wood ash from it for medicinal reasons as well, and its seeds are considered to be high in protein. Though honey from the tree is widely sold throughout Yemen, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that it is around 100 times more expensive on the global market than other types of commonly-produced honey.