Nature's Remedies - Honey
Nature's Remedies - Honey
One of nature’s well known products that is usually available in every household is honey. The word honey is derived from Ancient Hebrew meaning enchant. It has a strong religious association also in that honey is a symbol for the New Year in Jewish tradition. Honey also finds prominence in Islam – there is a whole Surah (Chapter) in the Qur’an devoted to honey.
Honey has been known as a source of food with nutritious value and has been so used from time immemorial as such and also as a medicinal compound. Honey is a mixture of sugars with fructose and glucose as its main component and is not a major source of vitamins or minerals.
It has been valued for its medicinal properties for ages. “Apitherapy” is the term used for treatment with honey and is used for enhancing physical stamina, replenishing energy, strengthening patients who have become weak due to illness or stress, calming the mind and rejuvenating sleep. It also relieves indigestion and is used in the treatment of respiratory and heart ailments. A thin coat of honey, when applied on the skin can disinfect and heal minor cuts and wounds and is also used for chapped lips. It is advisable not to give honey to children aged less than a year as it contains a kind of bacteria that can be very dangerous to them
There are many types of honey and is typically classified by the nature of its floral source, the nectar from which it is made. It can be either
i. Monofloral – made from the nectar of one particular type of flower, they have a distinctive aroma, color and flavor depending on the source flower.
ii. Polyfloral – also known as ‘wild honey’, is sourced from various flowers, their taste varies from year to year and on the predominant flower of the area and season.
iii. Honeydew – Instead of taking honey directly from flowers, the bees sometimes collect it from the sweet secretions of plant sucking insects and aphids. Honeydew is very dark brown in color and is not as sweet as nectar honey.
iv. Blended – a mixture of two or more different honeys, either a mixture of monofloral or a combination of polyfloral or a blend of both mono and poly floral varieties.
Honey is graded based on many factors depending on the presence or absence of soluble solids, flavor, aroma, water content, absence of defects, color and clarity. They are graded as:
- Grade A – Good,
- Grade B – Reasonably good,
- Grade C – Fairly good and
- Substandard – Poor.
The quality of honey can be judged by its taste, consistency and fragrance. It should flow from a knife’s edge in a straight stream and not break into drops. When poured it ought to form temporary layers that must disappear immediately. In jars, they should not be in layers and should appear as a pure consistent liquid. In as much as honey can be collected from the wild and also by beekeeping, look for honey that has not been produced by bees fed by refined sugar or other harmful pesticides.
Some specific uses of hone are given below.
Relaxing Honey Bath : Mix some 50 grams(2 oz.) of honey with 5 drops of lavender oil. If the honey is thick, slightly heat it by placing the glass in some warm water. Add the honey-lavender mixture to your bath for a relaxing bath that will help you fight insomnia.
Hay Fever : Honey, among other constituents, contains some pollen that may have a desensitizing effect. It is useful for allergies. People suffering from hay fever can eat honey that has been harvested locally.
Wound Dressing : The external application of honey is known to heal minor abrasions and cuts and reducing swelling by drawing excess water from the tissues. It contains a substance called ‘inhibine’ that is a germ killer and prevents infections. A thin layer of honey should be spread over the wound and covered with a sterile bandage.
Relief from Bronchitis, Asthma and Other Respiratory Complaints : Combined with other medicinal herbs, honey makes an excellent homemade remedy. A teaspoon of fresh thyme in a little honey works wonders for inflamed lungs and airways. The same can also be used for relief from minor respiratory ailments that include coughs, whooping cough and wheezing associated with bronchitis.
Acne : A teaspoon of powdered nutmeg in a teaspoon of honey when applied to the pimple helps clear it. Leave the mixture on the pimple for about twenty minutes and clear it off.
Throat Gargle : Take a tsp. of powdered ginger and pour half a cup of hot water over it. Add a teaspoon of honey and the juice of a half of a lemon and use it as a gargle. It can also be used in conjunction dried herbal sage. Rapidly boil 10 gms. Of the sage with 100 ml. of water and allow the sage to infuse into the water for about 15 min. Strain and sweeten with honey and use as a gargle or a mouthwash.
Oily Skin : Mix a tsp. of honey with the white of an egg and add sufficient flour to make a paste. Apply on the face, leave for ten minutes and rinse.
Other than those listed above, honey, either by itself or with other ingredients can be used in the treatment of age spots, as an antiseptic, for the treatment of athlete’s foot, for burns, for conjunctivitis, for constipation for digestion, for hangovers, for psoriasis, for sunburn, for ulcers and for wrinkles.
It is a very versatile product prepared by nature for our beneficial use and should be available in each and every home’s kitchen shelf.
Incidentally, China is the world’s largest of honey followed by Turkey and the United States of America.