Honey is an amazing medicine that people have been using since ancient times as a medicinal and food item. There have also been uses of it in traditional medical practices such as Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, honey benefits in the treatment of various clinical conditions ranging from wound healing to cancer.
Honey is a by-product of the nectar (juice) of flowers collected by the bee, which is made through the dehydration process inside the beehive. The chemical composition of honey is complex and varies depending on the natural source.
There is no doubt that honey has many health benefits with diverse roles in life such as enhancing digestion, benefiting the skin, improving voice quality, promoting heart health, easy digestion, and providing nourishment to the eyes.
With its health-boosting properties honey benefits for modern lifestyles, so it is important to understand its therapeutic potential.
The claims made on the internet about the combination of honey and hot water need serious consideration. Ayurveda never endorses the use of honey with hot water, and honey should never be cooked or used with hot substances.
To conclude, we will describe the properties of honey and verify the claims made on the internet regarding the use of honey with hot water or substances.
Qualities of Honey according to Ayurveda
- Rasa (Taste) — Madhur (sweet)
- Anurasa — Kashaay (astringent)
- Guna (Quality) — Laghu (Light and easy to digest), Vishada, Ruksha.
- Veerya (Potency) — Ushna (hot), Some authors describe it as Sheeta (cold).
- Vipaka — (effect after digestion) — Madhur (sweet )
- Effect on Tridosha — Calms Kapha and Pitta dosha
- Other names of honey — Pushprasa, Pushpasava (originated from flowers), Madhu (sweet in taste), Makshika, Madhvika, Kshaudra, etc.
Chemical constituents of Honey, Nutritional value
Honey is mainly high in fructose sugar, besides this honey contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, proteins, enzymes (glucose oxidase and catalase), organic acids, volatile compounds, prebiotics, etc. Apart from these, honey has many chemical and biological properties (eg, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, immunomodulating, vasodilating agent, hypotension (low blood pressure), antihypercholesterolemic (reduces cholesterol), has antibrowning, disinfectant, and antitumor properties.
According to modern studies and an article on Wikipedia, honey contains the following ingredients:
|Chemical constituents of Honey Nutritional value per 100 gram|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.004 – 0.006mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.038 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.121 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.068 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.024 mg|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||0.5 mg|
How to check the purity of honey?
- Properties/Test of Pure Honey –
- Pure honey does not spread/dissolve quickly when added to water.
- When pure honey is added to water, it gets deposited at the bottom of the vessel.
- Pure honey is sweet and mildly astringent in taste.
Honey Benefits according to Ayurveda
Honey has been used as food and medicine since the Vedic culture. According to Ayurvedic texts, honey is sweet, Ruksha (dry), and Sheeta (cold) (some say hot). It improves digestion power, glows skin, improves voice quality, is easy to digest, and is good for the heart.
Honey Nourishes the eyes as well as pacifies toxicity. It especially calms Pitta and Kapha dosha and reduces Meda (which can be related to fat), thereby being beneficial in weight management.
It also cures urinary tract disorders, hiccups, shortness of breath, cough and cold diarrhea, etc.
In the Ayurveda system of medicine, honey is considered as Agni deepana (increases digestive fire), Pachana (improves digestion) Pitta shleshmhara, (pacifies pitta and kapha dosha) , Medohara (reduces obesity), Lekhna (purifies the body channels), Grahi (Improvs digestive fire digestion), Kshedana (Expels out toxic substances from the body through scraping), Hridya (beneficial for the heart), Vajikaran (aphrodisiac), Sandhana (helps in healing wounds), Shodhana (Performs purification), Vranaropana (helpful in curing wounds), Chakshushya (beneficial for the eyes), Prasadhana (beneficial for the skin), Varnya (improves the complexion of the skin), Swarya (improves voice quality), Sukumar (softens the skin), cures Hiccups, Kushtha (skin diorders), worms infection, kshardi (vomiting), Shwas-kaas ( cures cough and cold including chronic respiratory illness, shortness of breath), diarrhoea, ulceration, Vaatala (Increasea Vata dosha), Penetrating and purifying subtle body channels, relieves thirst, Vishaprashamana (reduces toxicity), Yogavahi (increases their properties and effects when taken with other substances), etc.
Honey Benefits and indications according to Ayurveda
- Honey is given as a co-drink with various ayurvedic medicines, it acts as a catalyst and according to Ayurveda enhances the potency of the medicine.
- Honey benefits as an excellent wound healer, it can be applied with ghee on wounds and non-healing ulcers. Modern studies have also verified the wound-healing activity of honey1Jull AB, Cullum N, Dumville JC, Westby MJ, Deshpande S, Walker N. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005083. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005083.pub4.
- Its use helps in reducing acid reflux (excess acid build-up or acidity). A clinical study also supports the acid reflux activity of honey.
- It has antibacterial properties, which make it very effective in fighting bacterial infections, which have also been verified by modern studies. Manuka honey has primarily been reported to be effective in fighting bacterial infections.
- The use of honey is beneficial in respiratory problems (especially in children with cough and cold), diarrhea, vomiting, and worm infestation. In common coughs and colds, honey is suggested to be taken at night before sleeping.
- Honey benefits the skin and is effective in all types of skin disorders like eczema, skin burn, dermatitis, etc. In Ayurveda, the use of honey is said to be beneficial in 18 types of Kushtha (skin disorders).
- Many types of antioxidants are present in honey. Hence it also acts as an anti-cancer agent and is useful in the treatment of cancer. Modern studies also reported manuka honey as an anticancer agent2Samarghandian, S., Farkhondeh, T., & Samini, F. (2017). Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research. Pharmacognosy research, 9(2), 121–127. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8490.204647.
- In controlled diabetes, diabetics can take honey as a natural sweetener but honey should be pure and old, its antioxidant properties help to fight even minor infections. If diabetes is not under control then it is advisable not to consume sugar including honey at all.
- Honey is recommended with cold water for sleep disturbances.
- Honey is used with Giloy or Daru Haridra (Indian barberry or Tree Turmeric) in jaundice.
- For indigestion and constipation, it is advised to take honey and Giloy with barley water.
- For weight loss, it is recommended to drink honey and lemon mixed with water. But according to Ayurveda, it is advised not to take honey with hot water. take honey after the water cools down.
- According to Charaka Samhita, the use of Amla juice and pure sulfur with honey cures 18 types of Kushtha (skin disorders).
Honey and many of its cosmetic products are available for purchase online.
Can honey be taken with warm water?
No, according to Ayurveda, honey should not be consumed with substances containing Ushna Veerya (substances showing hot effects). If you are using this kind of combination then you should stop it immediately. Because what you are taking is poison according to Ayurveda. Apart from this, according to Ayurveda, honey should not be consumed after cooking or heating it.
There are many claims on the internet regarding the use of a combination of honey mixed with warm water also people are using the same combination. Even many experts recommend the use of honey and lemon mixed with warm water as one of the most successful weight loss hacks, but there is a misconception that it will be beneficial for health.
(Ushnam cha samagrutham madhu marayati) According to Ayurveda, it is against both SANSKAR (refinement) and SANYOGA (combination).
A modern study has verified that when honey is heated it produces hydroxymethyl furfuraldehyde (HMF), and increases antioxidant activity and browning with a decrease in specificity gravity. Studies have shown that mixing hot honey (>140 °C) with ghee produces hydroxymethyl furfuraldehyde (HMF) which can cause harmful effects and act as a poison.
In Ayurveda, honey benefits in Vamana (emesis) and Basti (enema) of the Panchakarma therapy. Honey is not prohibited here because in both these therapies honey is not digested and is expelled out in its natural state.
In Ayurveda, honey is also used in the preparation of Chyawanprash, but honey is added only after Chyawanprash is fully formed and cooled.
Can honey and ghee be taken together?
Ghee has been called the main Sneh (nourishing agent) in Ayurveda, its nutritious property strengthens the body, but all these have benefits only when they are taken in the right quantity and in the right way. According to Ayurveda, consumption of ghee and honey in equal amounts is a poison, which is also verified by modern studies that hot honey (>140 °C) mixed with ghee forms hydroxymethyl furfuraldehyde (HMF) which can cause lethal effects. and can act as a poison.
Consumption of honey and ghee in equal quantity is diet incompatible, combination, therefore, ghee and honey should not be used in equal quantity. According to Ayurveda, honey and ghee can be taken together in unequal quantities without mixing any hot items.
Honey benefits for weight loss and obesity
Nowadays, it is advised to consume honey and lemon mixed with warm water to reduce obesity or weight. But according to Ayurveda, the consumption of honey with hot water is prohibited. So the best way to use honey with water is to add honey and lemon when the water cools down. Due to the Lekhana (scraping) and Grahi nature of honey (especially old honey), it helps reduce obesity or weight. According to Ayurveda, no more than 4 to 5 teaspoons of honey should be used in a day.
You can use our BMI calculator tool to check whether you are overweight or not.
Effect of Honey on Tridosha
Honey mainly pacifies the Pitta and Kapha doshas of our body, it is easy to digest, has Laghu (Light), Grahi (scraping), and Lekhana properties, is easy to digest, removes toxins, and purifies the channels of the body. Being sweet improves the sense of taste, enhances health, strength, and intelligence, and increases mental stability and virility. It also cures many diseases like immature tumors, Vitiated Kapha, diseases related to pitta, etc.
Being a Yogvahi (catalyst), honey is taken as a co-drink in Ayurveda with many other Medicines. It acts as a catalyst and enhances the properties of a drug.
According to Ayurveda, old honey is more Kapha and pitta pacifier which helps in weight loss and obesity, while new honey is less Kapha pacifier, which can cause weight gain.
Honey side effects and precautions
- Since honey is sweet and rich in calories, it is not recommended for a diabetic patient to consume honey.
- As per Ayurveda, the Consumption of honey and ghee in equal quantity is diet incompatible, it is against both SANSKAR (refinement) and SANYOGA (combination). Therefore ghee and honey should not be consumed in equal quantities. According to Ayurveda, honey and ghee can be taken in unequal quantities without any hot items added.
- Honey should never be cooked or heated or mixed with any hot items (such as hot milk).
- To reduce weight, honey and lemon should be mixed once the water cools down.
- The use of honey and Sheesham oil in equal amounts is also prohibited.
- Honey should not be taken even in unequal amounts with ghee and water.
- If a pitta predominant person consumes honey in excess, it can distort the blood.
- Honey should not be used with meat and fish.
- As per Sushruta Samhita Honey should not be consumed in case of excessive body heat and very hot seasons of the year (Sharad, Grishma, or Madhyahan Kala).
- According to Sushruta Samhita boiled or warm honey or a person exhausted with hotness if consume honey may act as lethal.
- According to Acharya Bhavaprakash, honey should not be consumed in Sannipataja Jwara i.e. fever that vitiates all Dosha.
- Honey should not be used in the Panchakarma Swedana therapy
- Excessive or Improper use of honey can cause indigestion and Ama (undigested food that causes toxicity) formation which is itself considered toxic in Ayurveda.
Can women with PCOS take honey?
Honey is sweet and rich in calories so it is advised that women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) should not consume it in excess. Women with PCOS can take lemon and honey mixed with water to lose weight, which is an important part of PCOS management.
Can pregnant women take honey?
Yes, there is no such restriction, pregnant women can take honey, but it is best to use honey in limited quantity. Keep in mind that honey should not be consumed in excess. According to Ayurveda, 3 to 5 spoons of honey can be taken per day and this is the maximum limit to take honey in a day.
What if honey is consumed in excess?
According to Ayurveda, if honey is consumed in excess and if it is not digested, it can lead to Ama formation (undigested food that creates toxicity or poisoning) which is itself a poison and can be fatal according to Ayurveda.
Similarly, the consumption of honey with warm water can cause chemical changes in the stomach which can have adverse (toxic) effects on the body.
Old Honey Benefits, Purana Madhu (Old Honey)
As per Ayurveda honey that is one year or more old is called old honey. Ayurveda also states that recently collected honey (new honey) may not pacify Kapha which may lead to further obesity or weight gain. Sometimes it can also cause diarrhea. Whereas old honey can help in reducing weight or obesity due to its Grahi, Lekhana (scraping), and Kapha pacifying properties.
Qualities of old Madhu —
- Old honey is Grahi (improves digestive fire digestion), absorbent, beneficial in diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Lekhana (Scaping) — Removes Malas (impure substances) from the body), balances Kapha dosha, is beneficial in respiratory disorders and heart disease, and is beneficial in the problem of cholesterol.
- Rasa (Taste) — sweet and slightly astringent
- Ruksha (Dry)
- Astringent — mildly astringent
- Use — It balances all Tridoshas, and mainly pacifies the Kapha dosha. Useful in diabetes, Stoutness, and Medorog (Obesity).
According to Ayurveda, 3 to 5 spoons of honey can be taken per day and this is the maximum limit to take honey in a day.
honey has amazing effects on health and is undoubtedly valuable to life, it is proven to be effective in indigestion, skin disorders, nutrition, antibacterial, wound healing, and even as an anti-cancer agent. But it is also important to find out more about its proper properties.
According to Ayurveda, the use of honey with hot water has adverse effects on health. People are using a combination of the same, with a misconception that honey will be beneficial when taken with hot water. Ayurveda does not recommend taking honey with any hot items.
Modern studies have also verified that honey when heated or mixed with ghee in equal amounts, forms hydroxymethyl furfuraldehyde (HMF)) which can have toxic effects on the body and act as a poison.
- 1Jull AB, Cullum N, Dumville JC, Westby MJ, Deshpande S, Walker N. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005083. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005083.pub4
- 2Samarghandian, S., Farkhondeh, T., & Samini, F. (2017). Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research. Pharmacognosy research, 9(2), 121–127. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8490.204647