The uses of honey in health care trace back many centuries. In Vedic times, honey was seen as a gift—its remarkable healing properties were valued more than its taste. Now that honey is being re-examined by modern researchers, it’s increasingly recognized for the medicinal and nutritional properties that made it a staple of Ayurvedic practices for thousands of years. Discover the gifts of honey through these 8 Ayurvedic uses.
1. The skin is the largest organ of the body and benefits greatly from the application of honey. Ayurvedic texts have described how honey promotes healing of wounds and sores and acts as an antiseptic, a pain reliever, and a cooling balm that speeds recovery from burns.
2. Honey helps build tissues and generate energy and heat, three properties that make it good for aging bodies. One or two teaspoons of honey in a cup of warm water is a refreshing and strengthening drink. Take daily.
3. Because honey contains iron, manganese, and copper, it is excellent for building hemoglobin. In cases of anemia, Ayurvedic practitioners suggest using honey to maintain the right balance of hemoglobin in red blood corpuscles.
4. Honey is easily digested and assimilated, making it one of the best sweet foods for reducing stress on the digestive organs. It’s also useful for maintaining the health of the stomach. Ayurvedic experts find honey not only supports proper digestion, but also helps ward off stomach diseases and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and heartburn by preventing the overproduction of hydrochloric acid. Honey also promotes clearing the digestive canal of putrefied fecal matter and undigested foods.
5. As an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, honey helps maintain healthy teeth and gums. According to Ayurveda, a daily application of honey cleanses the teeth, makes them sparkle, and helps prevent tartar, decay, and premature tooth loss. Gargling with honey and water is very useful in protecting against gingivitis (i.e., inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial infection).
6. Insomnia affects many of us in our modern age. Honey has been used for centuries for the treatment of this common affliction. Its hypnotic qualities help bring on sound sleep. Two teaspoons can be taken with a cup of warm water or with warm almond milk before bed. Adding a dash of cardamom and cinnamon makes this soothing beverage more delicious. It’s an excellent remedy for sleepless babies and children.
7. Honey’s natural tendency to clear the channels of the body makes it very useful in helping the body eliminate imbalances in the respiratory pathways. As a demulcent or soothing agent, it reduces the discomfort of inflamed mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract, coating them with a protective film that helps relieve coughing and irritation. You can ingest a spoonful of honey or gargle with mixture of honey and water for this purpose.
8. Honey can be easily added to all your meals to supply the body with extra energy. Ayurvedic texts recommend honey for arteriosclerosis and weak hearts. It can be taken before bed in a glass of water with lemon juice to provide the heart with energy throughout the night and to alleviate cardiac pain and heart palpitations.
These Ayurvedic recommendations come with several caveats. The Ayurvedic sage Charaka wrote over 500 years ago that “nothing is so troublesome as amacaused by the improper intake of honey.” In Ayurvedic medicine, ama, or undigested matter in the body, is considered to be the root cause of most ill health. Many incompatible food combinations produce this toxic material, but heated honey is one of the most complicated forms to cleanse. Heating honey destroys the enzymes that support the digestive process.
Precautions when using honey:
Honey should never be heated to above 40°C (104°F).
Honey should not be mixed with hot foods.
Honey should not be consumed when you are working in a hot environment.
Honey should never be combined with ghee or mixed with rainwater; hot, spicy foods; fermented beverages (e.g., whiskey, rum, brandy); or mustard.
Honey includes nectar of various flowers some of which may be poisonous.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.