Known as the elixir for good health, honey comes packed with numerous health benefits. Also called ‘madhu,’ it can be consumed orally and also applied externally. So it is not surprising that honey is also recommended by Ayurveda. “While the honey which is newly collected from bee hive increases body weight and is a mild laxative, stored or old honey helps in the metabolism of fat and scrapes kapha,” Dr Dixa Bhavsar Savaliya in an Instagram post.
In Ayurveda, honey is called ‘yogavahi’, a substance that has the 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,” she shared.
Dr Dixa further shared that the Ayurvedic sage, Charaka, wrote over 500 years ago that “nothing is so troublesome as ama caused by the improper intake of honey.” In Ayurvedic medicine, ama, or undigested matter in the body, is considered to be the root cause of almost all diseases. Heating honey destroys the enzymes that support the digestive process, hence producing ama (toxins) in the body when consumed.
Agreed Dr Archana Sukumaran from Kerala Ayurveda, and said that honey is an excellent “anupana or catalytic agent that helps augment the qualities of herbs, and improves their absorption, hence is commonly used as a co-drink of many Ayurveda formulations. In general, sweet substances increase kapha dosha, but honey is an exception. It is sweet but is also astringent and dry — hence, balances kapha and is also helpful in respiratory diseases. It is light to digest as compared to other sweet substances.”
“However, upon being heated, honey is considered visha or poison in Ayurveda; it causes ama. When heated, the composition of honey also changes and it converts into a sticky substance, that is hard to digest,” she explained.
As such, she listed the following therapeutic uses of honey, as per Ayurveda
*Honey is very good for the eyes and eyesight.
*It quenches thirst.
*It is very useful in urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, cough, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
*It is a natural detoxifier.
*It is good for heart, improves skin, and is aphrodisiac.
*Helps to quickly heal deep wounds.
*Initiates growth of healthy granulation tissue.
However, Dr Dixa suggested exercising the following precautions while using honey
*Honey should not be mixed with hot foods or water.
*Honey should not be consumed when you are working in a hot environment.
*Honey should never be combined with ghee or mixed with hot, spicy foods, fermented beverages (e.g., whiskey, rum, brandy); or mustard.
“Ghee, when combined with honey in equal proportions by weight, transforms it to ama or toxin as they go through the digestive process. Honey can aggravate pitta; so taking it with spicy food further aggravates the same,” said Dr Sukumaran.
“Honey is good for the eyes – chakshushya; improves voice – swarya; and reduces fat, helping in weight management,” she told indianexpress.com.
The best way to use honey is with:
1 tsp with a glass of room temperature water (for obesity).
1 tsp honey with a tsp of turmeric and 1 black pepper (for cough, cold, sinusitis, immunity).