According to the ancient principles of Ayurveda, honey is medicine not food. "In Ayurveda, honey should ideally be consumed by an individual only after a consultation with a trained Ayurvedic doctor," says Dr Ashwin Patel, Chief Medical Officer, Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchkarma. "Its consumption is decided after the effects of the five elements -- earth, water, air, fire and space -- on the person are determined," he says.
Other doctors at the foundation said that honey also acts as an effective catalyst that enhances the benefits of ayurvedic medicines and other superfoods, such as bananas for jaundice, neem paste for wounds and lemon juice for insomnia.
For those who only use this super-food as a sugar substitute, or an occasional face pack, here are 9 Ayurvedic-inspired benefits of honey.
1. Respiratory ailments:
According to Dr Patel, honey is mixed with turmeric and used in Ayurveda for treatment of respiratory illnesses that cause congestion of lungs, throat and nose. If you're suffering from sinus problems, mix honey in hot water and inhale the steam for relief.
2. Dressing wounds:
Dr Patel recommends mixing honey with neem paste, turmeric powder and a little bit of pure ghee. It acts as a healing balm on a bleeding wound, and lessens the sting too, thanks to its antibacterial properties.
Consuming a teaspoon of honey mixed with lemon juice is a popular Ayurvedic treatment for clearing thickened arteries (a phenomenon known as arteriosclerosis caused commonly by smoking, arthritis, diabetes and obesity).
"A small dosage of honey (a teaspoon) consumed every day can help cut down weight," says Dr Patel. This 2013 study by NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) also found that honey intake cuts down on cardiovascular risk factors, particularly in obese subjects with elevated risk factors.
5. Gout (caused by excess uric acid):
A popular home remedy for gout, direct application of honey to the affected area, (as well as its consumption) can help heal gout and arthritis.
A slight coating of honey in the mouth cavity immediately provides the affected person with much needed sugar in their system. This may not have a direct medicinal implication, but is more for the revival of the affected person.
According to Dr Patel, it is a common practice in Ayurveda to apply some honey mixed with a little lemon juice on the forehead to cure insomnia. However, if you don't appreciate the idea of ants sharing your pillow, you can ingest some of this natural sedative with milk as well.
These (benign) fatty lumps on the skin can be reduced or eliminated by direct application of honey, which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Here's how to apply.
Bananas, papaya-leaf paste and ginger tea are all excellent home remedies for patients suffering from jaundice, but work even more effectively when consumed with honey. It can also be taken with Ayurvedic medicines that are specifically recommended for jaundice.
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