"The fruit of bees is desired by all, and is equally sweet to kings and beggars and it is not only pleasing but profitable and healthful; it sweetens their mouths, cures their wounds, and conveys remedies to inward ulcers."
- Saint Ambrose
This quote conveys the all encompassing properties of honey. In India, honey has a special status in Ayurveda.
D Ramanathan, director of the Sitaram Ayurveda Pharmacy Limited & Specialty Hospital, Thrissur on the role honey plays in ayurvedic treatment. The interview:
What is the use of honey in ayurvedic medicines? What are its properties?
Honey known as madhu in ayurvedic scriptures is one of the most important medicines used in ayurveda. In ayurveda, honey is used for both internal and external applications. It is mainly used for the treatment of eye diseases, cough, thirst, phlegm, hiccups, blood in vomit, leprosy, diabetes, obesity, worm infestation, vomiting, asthma, diarrhoea and healing wounds. It is also used as a natural preservative and sweetener in many ayurvedic preparations. It is also used as a vehicle along with some medicines to improve its efficacy or to mitigate the side effects of the other medicines it is mixed with. It is also known to mitigate the increased kapha dosha. (Kapha dosha is the ayurvedic category for body constitutions- those with kapha dosha are of larger proportions with robust frame.) It should also be kept in mind that fresh honey helps to increase body mass while old honey produces constipation and decreases body mass. Honey should not be heated or consumed warm as it causes toxic effect. Cold honey should always be preferred.
What are the different ayurvedic names of honey ?
In ayurveda, honey is know by many names. The names differ from one region to the other. However, the most common names are madhu, makshika, madwikam, kshaudram, saradham, vantham, varadi, bringavantham and pushparasolbhavam.
What are the different types of honey in ayurveda?
According to ayurveda, there are eight different types of honey:
1. Makshikam: Used in the treatment of eye diseases, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough and tuberculosis
2. Bhraamaram: Used in the treatment when blood is vomited
3. Kshoudram: Used in the treatment of diabetes
4. Pauthikam: Used in the treatment of diabetes and urinary infection
5. Chathram: Used in the treatment of worm infestation, when blood is vomited and diabetes
6. Aardhyam: Effective for eye diseases, cough and anaemia
7. Ouddalakam: Increases taste and swarasudhi.Used in the treatment of leprosy and poisoning cases
8. Daalam: It increases digestion and helps in the treatment of cough, vomiting and diabetes.
Is there any particular brand of ayurvedic honey that you prescribe?
We prescribe a particular brand called Samskritha Madhu (which means cultured or purified honey) which is made by most of the authentic ayurvedic Manufacturing units as per the ayurvedic scriptures.
In ayurveda, what is the bee species that is most preferred- are they are Italian species (that are kept in boxes) or Indian species (that are found in the wild)?
As far as Ayurveda is concerned our acharyas who made this system of medicine utilized Indian honey and tested the wild honey, hence any ayurvedic physician will prefer the Indian honey wild honey.