Honey and Ayurveda: Greater Than a Simple Sweetener

In Ayurveda, raw honey is the best sweet for medicinal purposes. Sweetness has historically been linked to loving kindness, compassion, and contentment. It is believed that foods with a sweet flavor help to build ojas, our essential immunity, capacity for disease prevention, and capacity for sincere satisfaction.

Additionally, honey draws other therapeutic agents deeply into the tissues by acting as a catalytic carrier, or anupana, of those agents. It promotes agni, the digestive fire, and lightens heavy foods and herbs. If you’re not experiencing a heat wave or pitta irritation, it is a great sweetener to take between the fall and spring for the majority of us.

How Important Preparation Is

“Uncooked Honey Is Nectar,
Cooked Honey Is Considered Poison.”

 The way we prepare our food and take our medications affects how well they can heal us and how they affect our bodies. It’s crucial to understand that honey is a volatile sweet because heat makes it ferment and produce toxins. These undetectable poisons cause ama in the digestive tract when baked into meals and consumed. Avoid using heated (non-raw) honey as a sweetener and avoid heating honey when using it as medicine. In this way, we want to help rather than hurt.

What Makes Honey Special in the World of Sweets

 The medicinal effects of the six flavors are highly regarded in Ayurveda. Every taste has unique characteristics, called gunas. Sweeteners and the sweet flavor are typically chilly, thick, and greasy. They have a calming and energising tendency, which calms pitta and vata but aggravates kapha. Unfortunately, most sweets, which are cold and hefty, stifle our digestive fire when consumed after a meal.

Raw honey dances to a different tune among a sea of chilly sweeteners like white sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, stevia, and others because it offers the uncommon property of warmth. It is heavy, yet because of how dry and astringent it is, it can make other things lighter.

It is therefore the greatest option for those with kapha constitutions or for those of us dealing with heavy, chilly kapha situations. A little honey added to a cup of spiced tea at the end of a meal transforms it into a restorative tonic that supports the digestive system while also providing delicious pleasure.

Benefits of Raw Honey

  • Honey can be used to remove excess kapha in the lungs and soothe the respiratory system when combined with warm, drying herbs and spices.
  • Honey increases bile production and supports regular excretion when consumed with warm water.
  • Honey helps heart-healthy herbs like tulsi or arjuna quickly enter the bloodstream by acting as a carrier for them.
  • Honey lowers vata and strengthens ojas when combined with warm milk.
  • When applied externally, honey helps to maintain skin health.
  • Western environments are currently testing manuka honey’s long-standing ability to calm inflamed and dry eyes.

Effects of Honey on the Doshas

 Internally relaxing for kapha and vata, honey has a pleasant taste (rasa), warming effect on the digestive system (virya), and sweet after-digestive effect (vipaka). In excess, especially when used in hot conditions, it might worsen pitta. However, ‘fresh’ raw honey (six months or younger) is said to balance pitta. Honey is drying, so vata doshas should consume it sparingly and go for more liquid varieties.

How much is excessive? Even though raw honey has powerful medicinal properties, it is also a sticky sweet and there is such a thing as too much good. For kapha and vata, use a teaspoon at a time and up to a tablespoon each day; for pitta, use much less. Consider it as a decorative addition for your meals and beverages.

Honey can be applied topically to all doshas.

Through the Seasons with Honey

 Understanding the seasons synchronises us with the Earth’s cycles. It’s time to take care of the vata dosha with things that are warming and nourishing for those of us on the globe who are entering the autumn season. Pitta dosha, however, still needs to be taken into account as summer ends.

The best remedy at this time is honey. It encourages the agni’s slow strengthening, which happens naturally at this time of year (see graph below). It’s warm, drying properties might help areas recover from heavy rains or flooding by overcoming dampness and chill without adversely agitating pitta.

If you reside in a location where devastating fires are still a problem, hold off on using a lot of honey until the fire danger has passed. The better option is organic coconut sugar or another cool sweetener, especially when combined with copious amounts of calming external moisture and rose mist!

The following factors

Honey can be beneficial or dangerous depending on how and when it is used, much like everything else in Ayurveda. In order to properly enjoy this delicious nectar, as we have already stated, adequate preparation, dosha-appropriate use, and alignment with the seasons and environment are all crucial considerations.

Here are a few additional crucial points to remember whether you are a seasoned honey consumer or are thinking about incorporating it into your diet for the first time.

The spiritual recognition of our interdependence with nature and the conviction that the health of the natural world around us is correlated with our own health are at the core of Ayurveda. It is crucial to think about where our foods and herbs come from and how we may act as allies in their defense.

Honeybees collect and turn floral nectar into honey, which is its concentrated essence. A honey’s flavor and therapeutic benefits are influenced by the flowers that go into it. This can be confirmed by anyone who has eaten bitter neem honey can attest to this!

Ghee and Honey

A potent rejuvenative that can act as a tonic for all of the body’s tissues is often created by combining honey and ghee. Honey and ghee are incompatible in equal amounts by weight, not volume, according to Ayurveda. In actuality, honey is heavier than ghee. Three teaspoons of ghee weigh the same as one teaspoon of raw honey. Combining one teaspoon of honey with three teaspoons of ghee is a bad idea. These ratios are said to irritate the skin and stomach.

Instead, blend equal volumes of your honey and ghee. Take one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of ghee, for instance. This will offer a carrier substance that is secure, nutritious, and lubricating.

Substitutes for honey

 Looking for vegan warm sweeteners? Take molasses and jaggery (dry sugar cane juice) as examples. Both have a honey-like configuration of sweet rasa, hot virya, and sweet vipaka. However, both largely enhance pitta and kapha while calming vata.  They are good blood boosters, especially molasses, but lack honey’s capacity to serve as a vehicle for other herbs.

Utilizing Honey’s Magic

 Mixing some honey into your tea or eating it straight off the spoon are the simplest ways to incorporate honey’s sweetness into your daily routine. But if you want to benefit from honey’s function as a carrier substance, here are a few suggestions to get you going.

  • Honey is recommended as the preferred vehicle for taking lung-supportive herbal formulae like Immune Health NOW since Ayurveda views it as the primary carrier substance for addressing the lungs. After meals, make a paste by combining 1 teaspoon of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of the herbal mixture. The paste can be consumed straight from the spoon or as a tea by adding warm water.
  • Mix one-half teaspoon of raw honey, one-half teaspoon of ghee, one-half teaspoon of crushed cardamom, and one-half teaspoon of rock salt to enhance deep, effortless breathing and ease respiratory congestion. Combine everything, and then lick the spoon as required.
  • For a delightful respiratory-clearing tea, try steeping dry tulsi and fresh arugula leaves together. After it has cooled for a minute, add honey to further its decongesting effects.
  • Honey and fruit go well together, especially for kaphas seeking wholesome sweetness. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Vasant & Usha Lad has a wealth of information, including a delicious “honey apple pulp.”
  • Experiment with adding honey to your warm, creamy drinks, like decaf spiced chai or turmeric golden milk!
  • Try putting some herbal honey in your food. Elderberry honey creates a delightful and nutritious toast spread, while turmeric honey can be drizzled over pancakes or oatmeal.
  • For clear, radiant skin, try preparing a face mask using honey and chickpea flour.
  • To make a vajikarana, or potion for sexual rejuvenation, use the delicious treat of honey. The enhancement of sexual juices in both men and women can be achieved by combining fresh onion juice with honey, fresh ginger juice, and the proper quantity of ghee.
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