The Benefits of Honey

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For ages, honey has been used as a food and medicine. Honey is a sweet liquid made by honey bees using the nectar from flowers throughout the world. Bees produce honey from secretions of plants by regurgitation, trisaccharides and invertase evaporation. The bees deposit honey into tiny, little, waxy storage units known as honeycombs.

But, honey is more than just a sweetener. Some studies have found that consuming raw honey helps to prevent and cure seasonal allergies and it many a time helps to heal wounds. Raw honey direct from beehives is unprocessed food. Honey is a sweet, viscous substance. It is an ancient scientific remedy for health and healing. It is also an active ingredient in beauty & skincare products.

If we see the composition of honey, it’s composed of

  • Fructose-38%
  • Glucose-31%
  • Water-11%
  • Maltose-7%

A small amount of Niruha Basti (a type of enema in Ayurveda) is other higher carbohydrates, sucrose, minerals, vitamins and enzymes like–Diastase (enema).

As per the father of medicine, Acharya Charak, honey has got many health benefits and medical values but there are many precautions which needs to be followed while taking honey to avoid its harmful effects as well. As per Charak, honey is of five types

  • Makiki collected by Reddish variety of honey bees
  • Bhramara
  • Ksandra
  • Paittaka
  • Maksika

Honey is acidic. Its PH level is nearly 4.02. Honey is recommended nowadays for weight loss and the reason is that it has amino acids and minerals that help in the absorption of fats. It has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can fight against cough. Apart from this, it boosts our immune system as it has lots of minerals, enzymes and vitamins that ensure it to be a very strong antioxidant.

But then, Charak says to take honey in small quantities and can be given to Prameha patients. A deeper study reveals that in many clinical trials, it has been found to have some effects but it is not yet clear. Honey is Madhur & Kasayn as per taste, then the question arises from all sides, how can honey, being sweet in taste as well as having such a high quantity of Glucose (31%) be given to a Prameha or diabetic patient.

This brings us to the enzymes present in it

The invertase enzyme present in Honey helps to digest sugar converting sucrose into glucose & fructose. Now fructose is present mostly in fruits and it will not raise blood sugar. But then glucose will increase the blood sugar level. This controversy can be solved by another beautiful property honey has, described by Charak called Yogabahi. It says honey when mixed with any other drug, gets inculcated into the proportion of that drug as well as its formation, when given as an adjutant with drug it is beneficial to lower the sugar content in the blood.

Hence, it is important to note that diabetic patients without proper consultation with a doctor should not consume honey as they feel as an experiment.

Charak also says that honey should not be heated and taken. Though in Niruhavasti, it is mentioned to take honey in that way. But nowadays everywhere it is recommended to take honey with warm water for weight loss. Then a question comes to our mind, maybe it’s a myth.

Now let us get scientific.

Honey has a magnificent enzyme called invertase that gets destroyed at 42 degrees celsius. The temperature of Lukewarm water, as such this magical enzyme loses its value of converting sucrose if heated above 42 degrees as it’s destroyed. But at 40 degrees, the proportions are intact. And so it is useful to drink warm water mixed with honey. But heating honey directly can cause rapid caramelization, causing it to be fatal and harmful to us according to Charak.

According to my study, it is revealed that honey reduces LDL by 6% & lowers triglycerides by 11% and is capable of increasing the good lipids useful for the heart i.e.HDL by 25% and is cardioprotective.

In summary, it has got these enlisted benefits 

  • Helps in weight loss
  • Improves digestive systems
  • It helps in getting stronger immunity
  • Prevent allergies
  • Relieves irritating cough
  • Goodbye sore throat
  • Flushes out the toxins from the body
  • Prevents gas by keeping the colon hydrated
  • Helps in lowering Cholesterol

To Conclude

Considered one of nature’s finest natural healers, honey has been used as a home remedy for thousands of years. Even today, there are many ways to harness the superpowers of honey, from soothing a cough to harnessing the antioxidant properties of the natural sweetener. Known as liquid gold, several studies have shown that honey has significant health benefits.

The healing components of honey are also used in many cosmetic preparations for skin and hair, not only because of their antiseptic and antioxidant potential, but also because of their softening, soothing and nourishing properties. Honey lubricates the skin and locks in moisture, making it an ideal ingredient in making beauty products that range from lip balms and lotions to shampoos and facial scrubs.

Dr Lipika Mohapatra, working as  Assistant Medical Officer (AMO) at Balakati Community Health Center, Odisha

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