Raw honey is a natural substance produced from the nectar of flowers. It is collected and transformed by the honeybee, apis mellifera. Honey has long been praised in Ayurveda as a highly effective medicine. Raw honey uses include both internal and external remedies. Raw honey benefits are quite numerous. It is also said to be one of the best vehicles (yogavahi) for other herbal medicines. This means, it has the capacity to carry and even enhance the effects of other medicines without altering its own properties.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article.
Raw Honey Benefits
8 Types Of Honey
Raw Honey Benefits + Properties According To Ayurveda
Raw Honey Uses + Ayurvedic Home Remedies
Modern research has shed light on the widespread historical uses of honey by confirming its anti-allergent, anti-anemic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antipyretic, antitoxic, anti inflammatory, sedative and laxative properties.
It has also been suggested to promote healing and cleansing (both internally and externally), improve hydration, stimulate immunity, benefit skin health and purify the blood. In addition to dextrose and levulose, raw honey contains a variety of amino acids, vitamins and minerals including A, B, C, D and E vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Raw honey also contains nutrient dense propolis and pollen, the constituents of which, including pinobanksin and pinocembrin, have been shown to strengthen immune function.
In the classic Ayurvedic texts, honey goes by many names, including madhu (sweet, pleasant, charming), pushparasa (essence of flowers), makshika (that which comes from a bee), and kusumasava (flower liquor). These names suggest the deep reverence not only for the medicine of honey but for the sacredness of the honeybee itself.
Indeed, one of the avatars of Shakti described in the Srimad Bhagavatam is Bhramari Devi or Bhramarambika, the goddess of the honeybees. The queen bee is to the hive as the Divine Mother, Prakrti, is to her creation. The Asvin twins, or lords of light, are also closely associated with honey symbolism: they are said to carry madhukasa, a whip dripping with honey with which they could prolong people’s lives. The practice of brahmari pranayama, “the bee’s breath,” also alludes to the high regard of bees in Vedic culture.
The main difference between regular, store-bought honey and raw honey is that regular honey is processed through filtration and pasteurization. During pasteurization, honey is heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria, yeast and to prevent fermentation. It also helps to regulate the consistency and color of honey to make it more appealing to modern consumers. During processing, honey is exposed to high temperatures which kill many of its natural enzymes and vitamins. Therefore, through processing, honey loses many of its natural healing properties.
According to the Ayurvedic texts there are two types of honey, namely naviha madhu (fresh or recently collected honey) and purana madhu (old honey, aged for over one year). According to Sushruta, these two main types of honey have distinct gunas and karmas (qualities and actions). Naviha Madhu has bruhana guna, which nourishes the body, and is also a laxative. Purana Madhu, on the other hand, is anti-diuretic, and does lekhana (scraping), which can reduce fat and eliminate vitiated dosha. Susruta further classifies eight distinct types of honey each with their own distinct features, properties and actions. The eight types of honey are Makshika, Ardhya, Pauttika, Bhrahmara, Chatra, Auddalaka, Dala and Kshoudra.
Makshika Honey is the most favored type of honey because of its light quality. It is especially recommended in the management of lung disorders such as cough and asthma.
Ardhya Honey has a pungent post digestive effect. It has an affinity to Kapha and Pitta dosha as well as the eyes. It is strengthening and does not aggravate Vata as much as other types of honey can.
Pautikka Honey is dryer and more heating than the other varieties. It is said to have the color of ghee. It is considered extremely potent, however the nectar which forms this honey comes from poisonous flowers which may lead to the vitiation of rakta dhatu, as well as Vata and Pitta dosha.
Brahmara Honey is more difficult to digest because of its slimy, heavy and excessively sweet qualities. It is white in color.
Chatra Honey has cooling, slimy and heavy properties. It is difficult to digest, however it can be effective in the treatment of bleeding disorders, leucoderma and parasites.
Audlaka Honey enhances the sense of taste and is beneficial for the voice. It is also used as a remedy for skin diseases. As with Ardhya honey, it has a pungent taste after digestion. It can aggravate Pitta dosha.
Dala Honey is dry and, according to the ancient texts, can be effective in managing diabetes and controlling vomiting.
Kshaudra Honey is relatively light and generally easy to digest. It is brown in color and has more cooling properties.
Rasa: Madhura (sweet)
Anurasa: Kashaya (astringent)
Virya: Ushna (heating)
Vipak: Madhura (sweet)
Gunas: Laghu (light), Ruksha (dry), Picchila (sticky, slimy)
Doshas: Balances Kapha and Pitta, can aggravate Vata (vatala)
Karmas: Lekhana (scraping)
Raw honey benefits include the following properties: Rukshana (drying), Roupana (heals ulcers), Vajikarana (aphrodisiac), Kaphanissaraka (expectorant) and Yogavahi (carrier of herbs and medicines to subtler channels). It is also antiparasitic and antitoxic.
In the fifth chapter of the Ashtanga Hridayam called Dravadravya Vijnaneeya Adhyaya, various types of liquid foods, their properties, actions and uses are discussed. Honey is included in this list along with water, milk, dairy products, oils, wines, sugarcane juice and urine. In the context of this text, honey is recommended as a chikitsa or therapy in the following conditions. Check out these raw honey uses.
Chakshushya – good for the eyes (vision)
Chedi – breaks up hard masses
Trut – alleviates thirst
Shelshmahara – brings balance to Kapha dosha
Visha – useful in toxicity
Hidhma – hiccups
Asrapitta – bleeding conditions
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract diseases
Kushta – skin diseases
Krumi – worm infestation
Chardi – vomiting
Shwasa – dyspnoea, chronic respiratory diseases
Kasa – cough, cold
Atisara – diarrhea
Vrana shodhana – cleanses wounds
Vrana sandhana, ropana – heals wounds quickly
Honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.
While the use of honey is recommended in many conditions, the Ashtanga Hridayam offers a few warnings for its use.
First and foremost, it is emphasized that raw honey should never be cooked, heated or mixed with boiling water. It is also inadvisable to mix equal quantities of any of two or more of the following: honey, ghee, meat, sesame oil, fat. While honey and ghee may not be consumed in equal weight they may be consumed in equal volumes. Even in unequal proportions, honey and ghee should not be consumed along with water. Finally, honey should not be consumed along with seeds of pushkara or mireya (date wine).
Raw Honey Uses: Internal
Raw Honey Uses: External
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