Honey–an ayurveda perspective

Honey is used as a key ingredient in many of ayurvedic preparations.  Texts of ayurveda laud the medicinal properties of honey. Honey has gained its medicinal and nutritional value by virtue of various constituent ingredients. It contains sugars like fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, disaccharides and trisaccharides along with proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, aromatic substances, ashes and water.

The FAO Codex Alimentarius Commission defines honey as ‘the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers or from secretions coming from living organisms feeding on plants, that bees gather, transform and combine with specific ingredients, store and leave to ripen in the combs of the hive.’

According to texts of ayurveda the medicinal properties of honey are explained as follows

1. Honey increases vata and reduces pitta and kapha.

2. Honey is highly recommended in respiratory diseases as it clears the path for pranavayu (movement of air in respiratory system). The expectoration of kapha occurs easily in respiratory tract diseases due to mucolytic activity of honey.

3. Honey has tremendous healing properties. This wonder sweet liquid boosts body immunity and heals affected tissues throughout body. It accelerates healing process by initiating quick formation of granulation tissue. This property helps to heal deep wounds.

4. It clears the path for bile (pitta) in obstructive jaundice. Hence usage of honey in jaundice is very beneficial.

5. Honey helps to clear acne-pimples, scars and marks when applied with face packs. It rejuvenates skin and gives it a young look.

6. Ayurveda acharyas opine that obesity is caused due to kapha and medhas (fat). This natural delicious liquid helps to reduce kapha and medhas. Along with aerobic exercises like walking, jogging etc regular consumption of honey assists in weight reduction. It provides bala or energy to people who are tiered. Honey acts as an instant energizer.

7. Honey helps to lower blood cholesterol. This in turn helps in erectile dysfunction which happens due to increased cholesterol level.

Few precautions have to be observed while using honey.

1. Do not heat or boil honey and never mix it with hot beverages (coffee, tea), hot water, spicy foods or alcohol. Heat may initiate liberation of poisonous ingredients of honey as honey bee collects nectar from poisonous plants too.

2. Do not consume honey in summer.

3. Diabetic patients should use honey under the strict supervision of their physician.

4. Sometimes honey may trigger migraine headaches due to vitiation of vata.

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