Honey or madhu holds a special place in natural medicine for its long list of medicinal benefits. This versatile natural sweetener has been traditionally used for alleviating numerous health problems. The curative nature of honey is attributed to the presence of amino-acids, vitamins (vitamin B2 and vitamin B6), minerals (iron and manganese), carbohydrates and enzymes. These nutrients also give it a better reputation as a sweetener, as compared to sugar.
Ayurveda considers this super-food 'yogvahi', implying that it has the quality to penetrate deep into tissues, when combined with other herbs, enhancing the medicinal properties of these herbs. According to Ayurveda, honey is madhu (sweet) in rasa (taste), guru (heavy) and ruksha (dry) in guna (quality) and ushna (hot) in virya (potency). It is known to pacify kapha and pitta doshas and aggravate vata dosha.
On account of its medicinal benefits, honey is commonly used in a large number of home remedies, some of which are listed below:
Honey for respiratory ailments
Honey is used as an effective natural remedy for cold and sore throat. A teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice, mixed with half a glass of warm water taken several times a day can provide relief from inflamed throat and asthma. Alternatively, having half a teaspoon of ginger (powder or juice) and a pinch of black pepper powder added to a teaspoon of honey can alleviate this problem.
One can also take a teaspoon of basil (tulsi) juice to a teaspoon of honey to relieve sore throat and cough. Honey is an integral part of kadhas, home-made decoctions prepared using herbs and spices, for treating respiratory ailments.
Seasonal allergies can be treated by consuming 2 teaspoons of honey daily. It is considered particularly beneficial for treatment of cough, cold and congestion in children.
Honey for obesity
Drinking a glass of lukewarm water mixed with a teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice every morning on empty stomach, is an age-old home remedy for obesity. This is also helpful for purification of blood and general detoxification. Being a medium glycemic index food, honey helps boost energy levels without accumulation of fats.
Drinking a glass of milk or warm water with a teaspoon of honey added to it can provide an instant surge of energy, without causing weight gain.
Honey for digestive ailments
A mixture of equal quantities of honey and pomegranate juice is a useful home remedy for acid reflux. A concoction prepared by boiling licorice (mulethi) root in water, taken with honey, is beneficial for relieving heartburn. One can get rid of chronic constipation by taking a teaspoon of honey mixed in warm water every morning.
Honey for healthy skin
A natural anti-bacterial agent, honey makes a very effective home remedy for acne and pimples. A paste made with honey and cinnamon powder can be applied over pimples overnight and washed off next morning with cold water.
A home-made, skin-toning facial mask can be prepared by mixing honey with fenugreek powder while tomato juice mixed with honey can reduce dryness of skin. For dark circles, one can apply a paste of almond oil and honey to the affected area.
Honey for piles
A tablespoon of honey mixed with half a teaspoon each of mint leaves juice, ginger juice and lemon juice, taken daily can do wonders for alleviating the painful problem of piles. One can apply a mixture of a tablespoon of honey and half a teaspoon of mustard powder on external piles for pain relief.
Honey for mouth ulcers
A wonderful home remedy for oral ulcers is local application of a paste of honey with a pinch of turmeric added to it. A cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey can help relieve internal ulcers. The ability of honey to eliminate toxins from the body makes it effective for this purpose.
Honey for bed-wetting
An effective home remedy for bed wetting in children is a mixture of 2 crushed amla and a pinch of turmeric along with a teaspoon of honey given to the child every morning.
Honey for nausea
Ingesting a mixture of a teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice is a great way of getting relief from nausea and vomiting. This remedy is also beneficial for nausea and vomiting caused due to morning sickness during pregnancy.
Honey for wounds and burns
The anti-bacterial property of honey enables it to heal wounds and burns effectively. Application of raw honey to minor cuts and burns followed by dressing the wound with a bandage is helpful for treating the wound. It is also useful for relieving painful sunburns.
Honey for hiccups
A mixture of one teaspoon of honey and an equal quantity of castor oil is anti-spasmodic in nature, making it a wonderful home remedy for stopping hiccups. This mixture can be prepared and licked with index finger, every 10 minutes, till the hiccups stop.
Besides these remedies, honey also finds more uses for relieving everyday problems. Drinking carrot juice mixed with honey can improve eyesight. A mixture of a teaspoon of garlic juice and two teaspoons honey is a home remedy for controlling blood pressure.
A word of caution: It is best to use raw honey for these remedies. Ayurveda advises aganist heating honey or mixing it in hot foods. It should not be given to infants. Also avoid combining it with alcohol, mustard oil, ghee, or hot and spicy food as it may lead to formation of toxins.