Use of honey as food and medicine has been existing both in ancient and modern science. Raw honey is most ancient sweetener. Natural honey is a sweet flavored liquid food of high nutritional value of immense health and wealth benefits. Due to high attributes of honey, an alternative medicine branch called Apitherapy has developed in recent years offering treatment based on honey and other bee products. China and Argentina are major honey producing countries.
The consumption of honey enhances the athletic performance and could be the better substitute of glucose to regain energy. The dietary significance of any carbohydrates diet is often indicated in the term of Glycemic Index(GI). Honey is the food carbohydrate with low glycemic index(GI) ,increases small amount of glucose in blood so, diabetic patients can harmlessly and safely eat this sweet substance .
10 Medicinal Uses of Honey
1. Honey as Food: Honey is not only important for its medicinal attributes but also useful as food sweetener, religious purpose ,natural beauty agent and a complete food . The high nutritional profile of honey with wide range of nutrients encourages its use as food. It is advisable for adults to take 70-75mg/dl of honey to get full desirable nutritional and health benefits.
Honey has high amount of fructose and its absoption is slow , due to this property is maintain homeostasis and sustain energy ,which suggests it as better source for replenishment for energy during physical exercise.
Apart from this it has mild laxative property. Calcium and iron are most important nutrients for our health . We daily take a lot of iron and calcium from various diet sources but they are not absorbed properly. It is a well documented fact that honey users have high level of calcium and iron, that suggests that honey enhances the absorption of calcium and iron from different diet sources and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and anemia.
Anti-oxidant properties: Presence of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are responsible for cellular dysfunction, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases as well as ageing. The consumption of food substances rich in antioxidant can protect these pathological conditions. Researches indicated that natural honey contain various antioxidant substance(phenol, flavanoids). As darker honey are known to have high amount of antioxidant properties.
3. Honey for Infant Health: Feeding honey to newborn is a custom has been described in Ayurveda as (Jatakarma). It is now established fact that feeding honey will improve memory, growth and enhances children performances in later life. Apart from this honey can also reduce crying phase of infants, better skin color, less susceptible to diseases, no digestion problems, Lighter and thinner stool and improves immunity .
4. Antibacterial property: Our body has continuous exposure of various harmful microorganism know as bacteria. Natural honey is very potent broad spectrum antibiotic which prevent growth and activity of both gram positive and gram negative bacteria .This attribute of honey is because of its high osmolarity, acidity and particularly hydrogen peroxide content.
5. Use in Gastro -enterology: Medicinal use of natural honey against the gastrointestinal diseases like ulcers, gastritis, Gastroenteritis has been mentioned since ancient time . Honey has potency to inhibit growth of Salmonella, Shegella, E.coli, Helicobactor - pylori which causes peptic ulcer and gastritis.
Use in Cardiovascular/ Hyperlipidemia problems: Honey has been found beneficial in cardiac patients. Consumption of natural honey reduces cardiovascular risk factors particularly by decreasing low density lipoproteins, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels in blood.
7. Eye disorders: Natural honey usually applied on the eyes to prevent the scarring effect of the cornea during measles infection. Apart from this, it is also used as curative substance for eye disorders like redness of eyes, pus discharge, Eye burns etc.
8. Use in oral Health: The use of natural honey promote oral health and wellness. Honey reduces risk of dental caries, Dental plaque (yellow discoloration of teeth), infection in gums (Gingivitis), Erosion of teeth because of its micronutrients–Fluoride, Calcium, Phosphorus.
9. Wound Management: Antiseptic property of honey provide protective barrier and good for treating wound, burns, ulcers Application of honey dressing has excellent result in healing of surgical wound and it does not stick to wounded tissue.
10. Enzymatic & Pre-biotic properties: Natural honey contains several enzymes (Diastase, Invertase) that enhances digestion of starch and carbohydrates. Gastrointestinal tract contain lots of essential and beneficial bacteria for maintenance of good health and life. Prebiotic attribute of honey can facilitates growth and activity of beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidofilus.
Regular consumption of natural honey gives nourishment, metabolic activity, growth and healthy living. After evaluating all benefits honey users it can be suggested that honey should be used as a substitute of sugar in processed food, infant formula food, children’s snacks and also commercially available sports drinks. This will be a noble approach to built up healthy generations by preventing diseases and leading to socially and economically productive health.
Department of Rog Nidan
Dayanand Ayurvedic College,