Honey, the sweet nectar collected by the bees, is not just a sweetening agent but loaded with multiple potential properties that can transform our skin, hair, and body. In its raw or unfiltered form, Honey has been used by the natives of our land since the Vedic civilization. Many Ayurvedic preparations include Honey to address different skin and health conditions. Interestingly, modern science backs1 the claims made in the ancient texts and the benefits of our traditional practices.
What is Honey?
Honey is a thick, sweet, and golden liquid produced by the bees, from the nectar they collect from flowers. The enzymes act on the nectar, giving it a unique composition and countless properties. The flower from which the nectar is collected also dominates various properties of the Honey. Generally, Honey is available either raw or pasteurized in different colors, tastes, and aromas.
Honey contains an excellent blend2 of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins (B2, B4, B5, B6, B11, C), minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants (pinocembrin). It contains enzymes, including catalase, invertase, acid phosphorylase, glucose oxidase, etc. Moreover, Honey is entirely cholesterol free 2. The lekhna properties (scraping out the cholesterol) of Honey can help maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol.
What does Ayurveda say about Honey?
Ayurveda and several ancient texts have multiple mentions of Honey and all its potentially miraculous properties. Honey is known by many names but Ayurveda mentions the word Madhu to refer to Honey. The Sushrut Sanhita mentions eight types of Honey: Bhramara, Pauttika, Ksaudra, Chatra, Makshika, Arghya, Auddalaka, and Dala Madhu.
Honey is extensively mentioned in Ayurveda and is revered for its Ojas (immunity boosting), potential antioxidant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, and Anupana (healing properties). Ayurvedic texts also suggest that Honey is a volatile sweetener with Agni (heat) element that may help balance the increased Kapha dosha. Additionally, some ayurvedic scriptures also mansion that its sweet taste, warming action, and sweet post-digestive effect offer a calming effect that can help balance Vataimbalance, when consumed in moderation. However, if consumed in excess, it can potentially aggravate Pitta.
Interestingly, Sushrut Sanhita mentions3 that mature Honey may eliminate vitiated Tridosha, whereas immature Honey vitiates Tridosha.
Benefits and 7 unique ways Honey can transform your skin and hair:
Natural Honey is created as a result of enzyme activity on plant matter. Honey is loaded with unique valuable properties that make it ideal for cosmetic uses, such as detoxifying skin, clearing acne, evening out skin tone, and fighting the signs of aging.
Bright and glowing skin: Multiple scriptures and Ayurvedic remedies mention Honey as an excellent detoxifying and antioxidant agent. It plays a significant role in potentially removing unwanted and harmful toxins from our bodies thereby purifying the blood. Additionally, Honey is also known to possess properties that encourage better blood flow and circulation. As a result of these properties, the skin appears radiant and healthy. Thus, Honey not only help cleanse the skin but body as well.
Experts recommend consuming 1-2 spoons of Honey mixed in water to aid detoxification and healthy blood flow. Experts have also highlighted that raw Honey is a great exfoliating agent4. This property can help remove dead skin and make it look brighter. Applying raw Honey directly or water-diluted Honey for a few minutes on the skin, after washing your face can improve skin’s health. Applying a mask5 made using chickpea flour, Honey, curd, lemon juice, and turmeric for 15 - 20 minutes can help get glowing skin. Since artificial and chemical-based exfoliators may irritate or inflame the skin, it is better to switch to natural alternatives which are soothing for the skin.
Fights signs of aging: For over 4000 years, Ayurvedic practitioners have used Honey for multiple purposes. The reason for doing so is the promising ability of natural Honey to protect skin from cell damage, caused by free radicals. Since free radicals accelerate the natural aging process, they contribute to the appearance of signs of aging like sagging skin, fine lines, wrinkles, crows' feet, etc. Research6 has also backed these antioxidant properties of Honey and has shown positive results. Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend applying Honey on the face, to help improve skin elasticity and offer a youthful glow. Applying a homemade honey mask made with milk and Honey can help fight signs of aging.
Protects skin from sun damage: Excessive exposure to the sun can cause damage to our skin. It can not only tan the skin but also degrade the skin quality and cause inflammation, dryness, and redness. Experts recommend using a mixture of honey and aloe vera on the skin that has been exposed to the sun, to reduce sun damage. The mixture will offer a cooling and soothing effect to the skin. Additionally, applying a mix of tomato juice and Honey can further help reduce pigmentation caused due to suntan.
Helps heal wounds and reduce scars: Honey is widely used in Ayurvedic remedies because of its ability to heal wounds and antimicrobial properties7. The powerful antioxidants present in Honey play a vital role in helping repair damaged skin. Honey can help accelerate the skin cells' healing processes. Applying a mix of raw Honey with coconut or olive oil to the scar can help heal and reduce it. One needs to apply Honey daily to the scar to see significant results.
Offers hydration and moisturization: Honey is an excellent nourishing and moisturizing product. If a person's skin is prone to dryness, they may apply Honey to replenish and restore the moisture and maintain healthy hydration levels. The reason why multiple beauty treatments and remedies are made using Honey. Honey deeply moisturizes the skin from within, as the enzymes found in natural Honey allow it to reach deep layers of the skin. The sugar in raw Honey acts as a natural humectant, allowing it to draw moisture from the air to hydrate the skin. A mask made using curd, turmeric, and Honey can help moisturize the skin.
Prevents and controls acne:Honey's antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties play an active role in controlling and preventing acne8. Raw Honey can potentially remove excess oil from our skin, clearing out any blockages or clogged pores, preventing the buildup of free radicals, etc. All these properties make raw Honey an excellent product that can reduce acne breakouts, inflammation, and scars. Several experts suggest that Honey has the ability to help deal with conditions like eczema9 and psoriasis as well. Applying raw Honey to the infected area can help reduce acne.
Promotes healthy scalp and hair growth: The deep moisturizing qualities of Honey can help moisturize our scalp and act as a natural conditioner. Additionally, it helps maintain a healthy scalp by preventing oil buildup and reducing the chances of scalp infections. Honey also promotes hair growth as the natural ingredients present in it moisturize the hair follicles and promote natural hair growth. Honey can be mixed with warm olive oil and applied to our scalp and hair length to experience its potential benefits. Similarly, a banana and honey mask made using two ripe bananas, and a cup of Honey can be used for deep conditioning.
Honey is an excellent product that offers internal and external cleansing. Its antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties are discussed at length in ancient Ayurvedic scriptures. Since then, Honey has been a vital part of our healthy skin and hair routine. A spoon or two of Honey daily, can help improve the health of skin, hair, and body.