Honey, a by-product of flowers made by bees is one of the most important gifts nature gave to humankind. The golden nectar is also known as ‘nectar of Gods’ because of its sweetness and health benefits. Honey has been used as food and medicine since ancient times (more than 8000 years ago).
Even Rig Veda and Atharva Veda give several references to honey being used as more than a sweetener. The Gods Vishnu and Krishna are called ‘Madhave‘ meaning ‘the nectar-born ones’ and their symbol is a bee. Hence, since ancient times honey has been used during yajnas and to purify idols before any important puja. As it is sweet, healthy and delicious it is considered as one of the most auspicious elements of the Indian culture. It is symbolic of everything pure, sweet, goodwill, and good health and hence it is used during marriage and birth ceremonies, to send away the evil spirits and ensure a happy life. It is also one of the five ingredients of panchamrita (or amrit) used during puja by Hindus. Honey is used in the preparation for its antibacterial properties.
Honey as superfood
Honey consists of sugars like fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, lactose and other disaccharides and trisaccharides. It also has proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids and water. All these ingredients make it a superfood.
It is one of the finest sources of heat and energy. Energy is generated mainly by the carbohydrate foods, and honey is one of the most easily digested forms of carbohydrates. It enters directly into the bloodstream because of its dextrin content (a gummy substance found in small amounts in honey, but it makes honey so digestible), and provides almost instantaneous energy. Glucose found in honey is the simplest of the sugars. It restores the oxygen that is replaced by lactic acid when fatigue sets in.
Fructose, which is also known as levulose or grape sugar, found in honey crystallizes more easily than glucose and builds up tissues. According to Ayurveda, honey is a boon to those with weak digestion. All the organs in the body respond favourably when honey is eaten.
The healing properties of honey have also been described in depth in the Vedas. In Ayurveda, it is known as madhu and its properties can be described in the following lines
Vaatalam guru sheetam cha raktapittakaphapaham
Sandhatru cchedanam ruksham kashayam madhuram madhu
It means, ‘it has sweetness (madhura rasa) with added astringent as end taste (Kashaya anu rasa). It is heavy (guru guna), dry (ruksha) and cold (sheeta). Its effect on doshas is as follows – it aggravates vata, scrapes kapha and normalizes pitta and rakta. It promotes the healing process.’
Honey is also known as ‘Yogavahi’ – the substance which has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissue. When honey is used with other herbal preparations it enhances the medicinal qualities of those preparations and also helps them to reach the deeper tissues.It is considered as an all-purpose medicine for all types of diseases.
A spoon of fresh honey, mixed with the juice of half a lemon in a glass of lukewarm water and taken first thing in the morning, is an effective remedy for constipation and hyperacidity. Fasting on this honey-lemon juice water is highly beneficial in the treatment of obesity without loss of energy and appetite.
For healthy heart
As honey gets easily digested and assimilated; it is the best sweet food which does not cause flatulence and promotes the activity of the bowels. It can be easily added to the five meals and Ayurveda recommends it in cases of arteriosclerosis and weak hearts. It is recommended to take a glass of water with honey and lemon juice in it before going to bed. Honey also helps to ease cardiac pain and palpitation of the heart.
Treatment of anaemia
Honey is remarkable in building haemoglobin in the body, which is largely due to the iron, copper and manganese contained in it. Ayurveda declares it beneficial in the treatment of anaemia, as it helps maintain the right balance of haemoglobin and red blood cells.
For pulmonary health
Ayurvedic experts regard honey as highly beneficial in the support of lung health and treatment of all imbalances of the lungs. Inhaling the aroma of honey can help an asthma patient to breathe easily and deeply. This is because honey contains a mixture of ‘higher’ alcohols and ethereal oil, and the vapours given off by them are soothing and beneficial to the asthma patients. It usually brings relief, whether the air flowing over the honey is inhaled or whether it is eaten or taken either in milk or water. Some ayurvedic experts recommend one-year-old honey for respiratory diseases.
For smooth & supple skin
Since the ancient times, the queens and princesses used honey externally for a glowing skin. Honey helps to lock the moisture to skin thus keeping it smooth and well-hydrated. Its antibacterial property makes it effective in keeping skin infections and acne at bay. Honey is also a clarifying agent and helps to unclog skin pores. The antioxidants in honey help prevent skin damage and slow down ageing. The bleaching property in honey helps to clear scars, reduce pigmentation and gain even skin tone.
Honey is also considered useful in the treatment of wounds and sores. It soothes pain, acts as an antiseptic, hastens the healing process and is especially effective in curing burns and carbuncles.
Cures irritating coughs
Ayurveda says the use of honey is highly beneficial in the treatment of an irritating cough. As a demulcent or soothing agent, it produces a soothing effect on the inflamed mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract and relieves an irritating cough and symptoms like difficulty in swallowing. For the same reason, it is used in the manufacture of various cough syrups.
Helps in sound sleep
Ayurved experts claim that honey’s hypnotic properties help in bringing sound sleep. Taking honey with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoonfuls in a big cupful of water will do wonders. Babies, generally fall asleep after taking honey.
Prevents oral diseases
Honey’s antiseptic properties prevent the growth of the harmful microorganism and help in keeping the mouth healthy. Its application, daily over the teeth prevents the deposit of tartar, tooth decay and their early falling. Being a mild antiseptic, it prevents the growth of harmful microorganisms. Its application on the gums keep them in a healthy state and increase their vascularity.
Cures eye ailments
Application of honey regularly in the eyes, improves the eyesight. It is very useful in the treatment of itching of the eyes, trachoma, conjunctivitis and other similar diseases. Its regular use (internal as well as external) helps prevent glaucoma in the initial stage of the disease.
Prevents stomach diseases
Ayurvedic experts have long regarded honey as useful in maintaining the health of the stomach. It tones up the stomach, helps in proper digestion and prevents diseases. It also decreases the overproduction of hydrochloric acid, thereby preventing symptoms like nausea, vomiting and heartburn.
For hair growth
A mixture of honey and alcohol is believed to promote the growth of hair.
Home remedies made using honey that can do wonders for your health
-Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with carrot juice and consume regularly. This helps to improve eyesight and is very helpful for those who work on the computer for long hours.
-Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with equal quantity of ginger juice and consume frequently to get relief from cold, cough and congested chest.
-A mixture of black pepper powder, honey and ginger juice in equal quantities, when consumed thrice daily help to relieve the symptoms of asthma.
-Regular use of one teaspoon of garlic juice mixed with two teaspoons of honey help to control blood pressure.
-One glass of warm water taken with two teaspoons of honey and one teaspoon of lemon juice in early morning reduces fat and purifies the blood.
-One or two teaspoonfuls of honey in a cupful of boiled water that has been cooled to lukewarm is refreshing and strengthening.
-Honey is especially useful in providing energy and heat to the body in old age. It dries up the phlegm and clears the system of mucus, to which a person generally falls victim in old age.
-Consuming one spoon of honey daily help us to lead a healthy long life.