Its sweet nectar of life, in other words ‘manna’.
The traditional uses of honey in healthcare, stretch back into antiquity. It’s value, beyond a sweetener, is being rediscovered. The ancient’s of Vedic civilization considered honey one of nature’s most remarkable gifts to mankind. Modern research indicates this substance does possess unique nutritional and medicinal properties.
As per Ayurveda – Honey is one of the original superfoods in that it contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes (such as invertase), antioxidants, sugars and even some amino acids. It is far sweeter than other forms of natural sugars as it has been concentrated by the bees. Most natural sweeteners, such as date sugar, maple syrup are sweet and cooling in their Ayurvedic properties, reducing both Vata and Pitta whilst increasing Kapha. Honey, however, has been pre-digested by the bees and is warming making it an exception to the Ayurvedic rule that sweet foods are cooling. Honey is hence the only recommended sweetener for Kapha types who need to eat more warming foods to counter their cold nature.
Types of Honey – There are 8 different types of honey, depending on the type of bees( small, medium, large), type of flowers from which nectar is sucked (poisonous, non-poisonous). They are Pouttika, Bhramara, Kshoudra, Makshika, Chatra, Arghya, Oudalaka, Dala.
Honey on Body
- Heart – Honey is easily digested and assimilated; it is the best sweet food, as it does not cause flatulence and can prevent it to a certain extent, promoting the activity of the bowels. It can be easily added to the five meals a day and the texts of Ayurveda recommended it in cases of arteriosclerosis and of weak hearts.
- Stomach - It tones up the stomach, helps in proper digestion and prevents stomach diseases. It also decreases the over production of hydrochloric acid thereby preventing symptoms like nausea, vomiting and heart burn. Acts as a laxative and emetic and clears the digestive canal of the waste matter (putrefied fecal matter, undigested foods)
- Anemia - Has iron, copper, manganese in it which helps in increasing haemoglobin content.
- Skin, Wounds, Sores – Cleanses, treats and quickens the healing of wounds and sores. It soothes pain, acts as an antiseptic, hastens healing and is especially effective in curing burns and carbuncles.
- Oral Health – Gargling with honey water is very useful in gingivitis due to inflammation of the gums. Applied daily over the teeth and gums, it cleans and gives sparkle to the teeth. It prevents deposit of tarter at the base of the teeth and prevents decay and early falling of the teeth.
- Irritating Coughs – Acts as demulcent or soothing agent, it produces a soothing effect on the inflammed mucus membrane of the upper respiratory tract and retrieves irritating cough and symptoms like difficulty in swallowing.
- Mix ½ tbsp each of ginger, black pepper, clove, cinnamon and turmeric. Mix ½ or 1 tsp of this mixture with honey and take twice a day (similar to the Ayurvedic formula Sitopaladi churna)
- Cold – Mix 1 tsp each of ginger powder, turmeric and black pepper and take ½ tsp of this mixture with honey twice a day (similar to Trikatu).
- Cough - Mix ½ tsp fresh ginger juice with ½ tsp honey and take three times a day.
- Soak 2 parts fresh ginger root, 3 parts cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add ½ tsp of honey once it has cooled down to warm and drink a glass of this tea several times a day.
- Crush ¼ tsp fresh ginger root with 8 fresh basil leaves, 2 peppercorns, 2 cardamom seeds, and 1 cup of water, ½ tsp turmeric powder,2 cloves, and 5 fresh mint leaves. Boil, filter and add 1 tsp honey. Drink 2 or 3 times a day.
- Eyesight – Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with carrot juice and consume regularly. This helps to improve eyesight and is very helpful for those who sit in front of computers for long hours.
- Cold, Cough and Mucus – mix 2 teaspoons of honey with equal quantity of ginger juice which should be consumed frequently.
- Asthma – A mixture of black pepper powder, honey and ginger juice in equal quantities, when consumed thrice daily helps.
- Blood Pressure – Use one teaspoon of garlic juice mixed with two teaspoons of honey.
- Weight Loss – One glass of warm water taken with two teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in early morning reduces fat and purifies blood.
Here are 5 important precautions which should always be observed in your own kitchen:
a. Honey should not be mixed with hot foods.
b. Honey should not be heated - This is a very very important thing to note. As per ayurveda, consuming honey which has been heated over 40 deg celsius will lose its good properties. So, consuming raw honey is always best.
c. Honey should not be consumed when you are working in hot environment where you are exposed to more heat.
d. Honey should never be mixed with rain water, hot and spicy foods, and fermented beverages like whisky, rum, brandy etc, ghee and mustard.
e. Honey includes nectar of various flowers of which some may be poisonous. Poison has hot or Ushna qualities. When honey is mixed with hot and spicy foods the poisonous properties get enhanced and cause imbalance of doshas.
f. IMPORTANT – Do not give honey to children below 1 year. Some honey can have poisonous substances which a adult body will easily separate and distinguish. However, in a child those enzymes are not yet developed.