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HONEY - Everything you Wanted to know but did not know whom to ask !
Bees gather nectar from flowers and carry it to their hives. The nectar is a watery solution containing primarily LAEVULOSE and DEXTROSE, GLUCOSE, some SUCROSE, and small amounts of mineral salts, coloring matter and aromatic bodies. This nectar is converted to honey by the bees and much of the water in the nectar is evaporated at the hive.
The presence of ENZYMES in honey is a well-known fact. One of the better-known enzymes is DIASTASE also known as AMYLASE. Honeys of different origin show different diastasic activity, which is measured in the GOETHE SCALE and can vary widely with the floral origin from 0 to 40 on this scale.
For many years, honey has been known to contain HYDROXY-METHYL-FURFURAL (HMF for short), arising from the action of normal honey acidity on reducing sugars at ambient temperatures during storage and processing. Even freshly extracted honey contains small amounts of HMF. A limit of 80 mg. Per kg is typically used as a qualitative standard for honey.
In addition to simple sugars, honey also contains certain acids like Formic Acid, Acetic Acid, Citric Acid and Amino Acids, in addition to vitamins like A, B-Complex, and C. However, honey obtained from different geographical areas contains different quantities of these items.
There are basically two types of honey. (1) EXTRACTED honey, which is a product of domesticated bees reared in hives. There are two types of bees in this category in our country – (a) Apis CERANA and (b) Apis MELLIFERA. The well-known Coorg Honey and almost all the honey produced in apiaries in South India is a product of Apis Cerana. In the North, the Mellifera species is more popular in apiaries. (2) SQUEEZED HONEY is the product of wild bees known as Apis DORSATA or the ROCK BEE.
MEDICINAL VALUE OF HONEY
Ø Honey is excellent for anemic children. By using a tablespoon of honey three times a day for about six weeks, an increase in red-blood-corpuscles has been observed.
Ø Honey is recommended for people with heart-trouble and weakness.
Ø Honey gives instant energy because it contains simple and safe sugars, which does not depend on the digestive system for metabolism. Diabetics can safely consume it also. It is rich in minerals like copper, iron, manganese and potassium. There are absolutely no side effects, and so can be used by every-one – from infants to aged people. It does not harm or irritate the delicate mucus membrane of the stomach. In fact, it can safely be given to a newborn child.
Ø Honey is an anti-bacterial and an anti-septic.
Notes: Recent research shows that an enzyme in honey called glucose oxidase produces Hydrogen Peroxide, which sterilizes germs. Honey rapidly clears bacteria from infected wounds, even when the infection is deep seated. Scientists are investigating to find out honey rich in glucose oxidase can help treat gum disease and gingivitis.
Scientists have also found that honey not only stops the growth of bacteria in dental plaque, it reduces the amount of acid they produce, which stops the bacteria from producing a chemical known as dextran. Dextran, a component of dental plaque, is the gummy sugary substance that the bacteria make to stick to the surface of the teeth.
Ø Honey is a kind of panacea (cure-all) and is used beneficially in cases of fevers, insomnia, depression, and even in cases of surgical shock.
Ø 250 gms of honey is equivalent in nutrition to 1 litre of whole milk or 1.5 kg. of Cheese, or 350 gms of meat, or 500 gms of fish or 10 eggs!
Ø People who are tired after strenuous exercise or games can get benefit of energy by drinking one table-spoon of honey dissolved in water.
Ø At the same time, 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey dissolved in water acts as a mild laxative.
Ø Obese people can reduce weight considerably by consuming two tablespoons of honey mixed with one tablespoon of fresh lemon-juice and water first thing every morning. This treatment is very beneficial for people with high blood pressure.
Ø For quenching excess thirst, to get rid of phlegm, to stop hiccups, to get relief in dysentery and many types of allergies, even leucoderma, to get rid of worms in the stomach, to stop vomiting, coughing, relief in jaundice – for all these ailments, the answer is HONEY.
Ø One tablespoon of honey given to children at bedtime will stop their bed-wetting habit.
Ø Children who take honey every day with their food are immune to common ailments and they grow up to be healthy adults.
Ø Honey mixed with Ghee and Ashwagandha Churna has given relief in certain cases of leprosy!
Honey is used for external applications also
Ø Beauticians use honey as a bleaching agent, for improving facial complexion.
Notes: The hydrogen peroxide produced by the enzyme glucose oxidase acts as a bleaching agent.
Ø Honey is applied on fresh burn-injuries to prevent blisters.
Ø Honey is a soothing agent.
Ø Honey is used beneficially in cases of sprains and inflammatory swelling of joints.
Ø Gargling with honey rids the mouth of sores and reduces burning sensation of the mouth and tongue.
Ø Where poultices are needed, honey mixed with wheat-flour (atta) is used.
Ø Because Honey is a bactericide, sore throats can be treated with honey.
Ø In case of severe headaches, a little honey mixed with lime can be applied to the forehead, for relief.
Ø For children suffering from stomachaches, a little honey mixed with lime is applied to the stomach, for relief.
Ø Honey mixed with charcoal powder makes good toothpaste.
Ø Boils on the body can be rid by applying honey over them a couple of times a day.
Ø Honey can be used as an ointment and applied to the eyes before bedtime or even used as eye-drops. It keeps the eyes clean and shining, and prevents infections of the eye.
Ø Honey can be applied over septic wounds when puss has formed – it reduces the puss and heals the wound faster.
There are simple ways of testing honey for purity:
(1) Honey does not dissolve in water easily. When a teaspoonfull of honey is added to a clear glass of water, the honey sinks to the bottom and needs stirring to dissolve. Honey adulterated with sugar-syrup of jaggery (very common) will dissolve and disperse in water easily.
(2) Interestingly, for some reason, DOGS do not like honey. Therefore, when a spoonful of honey is offered to a dog – and if the dog laps it up, then the honey is adulterated. If it does not, then it is pure honey! I have tried it, and it works!
T S Ganesh, WATAPI ESTATE, B.R.HILLS.