Ayurvedic Lifestlye

8 Ayurvedic Uses for Honey

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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. 

Impact of Modern Culture

Impact of Mondern Culture and Ayurveda

Insert from the book Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur

In Ayurveda we cannot address the idea of living in tune with nature without also addressing the ways in which our culture creates disharmony in the first place. Today, many of us spend more time in "civilized" environments than we do out "in nature." These man-made worlds have their own energetic influence, which we cannot ignore if we want to achieve inner balance. Disconnected from the cosmic rhythms, yet not exempted from cosmic laws, modern culture (like every culture in history) has its own constitution,  its "collective consciousness" which reflects the energies and activities of the individuals and groups who compose it. Because of totality is always greater than its parts, however, the makeup of the culture also influences each member in turn. 

In Ayurvedic terms, many aspects of modern life are vatogenic in nature. Contemporary society is characterized by constant movement, speed, change, and mobility, the attributes of Vata. The age of air and space travel (vata, of course is air and space), computers, computer games, electronics, mass media, communications, and information, is a Vata age. "the acceleration of change in our time, is itself, and elemental force," Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock almost thirty years ago and the pace is not slowing down as we go into the next century. We produce more goods, consume more resources, create more garbage, cover more miles, meet more people, explore more places, and change jobs, homes, and partners more frequently than in any other time in history. In addition, we are exposed to ways to reproduce not only visual images, but also sounds, smells, and tastes. This tronic age, all aggravate Vata. On the other hand, we rarely make time anymore for nurturing touch, which is the sense that helps most to balance the elements of space and air. Instead, we annually consume billions of dollars worth of antidepressants, tranquilizers, and other mood-altering drugs, purchased over the counter, by prescription, or on the street, most of which are vatogenic as well. Meanwhile, the West's aggressive, competitive work ethic aggravates Pitta. Its materialism and acquisitiveness, along with its diet rich in fats, carbohydrates, and sugar, and poor in nutritive value, all aggravate Kapha, a fact that is evident in the alarming rate of obesity among Americans of all ages.

These imbalances in our collective lifestyle contribute to the high levels of stress and disease in the industrialized nations of the world. You do not have to escape to the mountains and go "off grid" in order to escape their effects, however. By following the principles of Ayurveda and using some of the stress-reduction techniques, you can enjoy all the benefits of modern life and still have a natural, balanced lifestyle no matter where you live. An Ayurvedic lifestyle does not mean renouncing material comfort, achievement, or wealth. To the contrary, it means having the clarity and energy to attain all your goals and still have the health and longevity to enjoy your success.