Honey Qualities, Usage, Remedies, Ayurvedic Benefits

Here is a collection of various health benefits as per Ayurvedic texts – Charaka, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hrudayam, Nighantu and modern research.

Honey in Ayurveda is widely used. Here are the qualities of honey explained in ayurveda, describing benefits of drinking honey or using it in one or the other ways.

honey Ayurveda

Types of Honey

  • Comb honey – taken directly from the bee wax comb and stored as it is.
  • Liquid honey – the wax cappings are cut and combs are processed in honey centrifuge extractor.
  • Granulated honey  – honey is frozen, water elements are separated, leaving behind honey granules.
  • Creamed honey – a blend of 1 part of granulated honey and 9 parts liquid honey is made and stored in 57 degrees until it becomes firm.
  • Chunk honey – comb honey stored in a jar with liquid honey poured over it.

Raw vs. Pasteurised Honey
Raw honey is not pasteurised.
Pasteurised honey is heat processed and strained to kill bacteria such as those causing botulism.

Test for purity

How to test honey for purity?

  • Will not spread quickly when put into water
  • Will settle at the bottom when put into water
  • Taste – sweet + astringent (drying sensation in tongue)

Add a spoonful of liquid honey to warm water.
Add a spoonful of honey to a glass of warm water, stirring slowly or not at all. If the honey has been mixed with certain kinds of sugar syrup, it will dissolve in the water

Drop honey on blotting paper or a paper towel.If honey has been diluted with water, it may be absorbed or leave a wet mark on an absorbent material such as blotting paper. Pure honey will not be absorbed

Is there any restriction in consumption of honey in case of Pregnant women?

  • There is no such restriction.
  • But it is more of detoxifying and cleansing and less of nourishing.
  • Usually more nourishing substances such as ghee, sweet, nutrition rich substances are preferred. Hence the advice to use honey in limited quantities.

External application of honey

  • Applied externally along with ghee in wounds, burns, scalds and non-healing ulcers.
  • Externally applied along with lime in headache, abdominal colic, bruises and sprains.

Oral usage of honey

  • Honey with lime juice is a wonderful remedy in regulating the secretions of internal glandular organs.
  • Honey with cold water is used in Insomnia.
  • Honey with warm barley water is used in constipation and indigestion.
  • Honey with juice extract of neem or giloy or Daruharidra is used in jaundice.

General qualities of honey

Rasa (taste) – Madhura – sweet
Anurasa – sub taste – Kashaya – astringent
Guna (qualities) –
Laghu – light to digest, Vishada – clarity, Rooksha – dryness
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – Madhura – sweet
Veerya (potency) – Ushna – hot. Some opine as Sheeta – coolant
Effect on Tridosha – balances Kapha and Pitta Dosha.

Types of honey and benefits
Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 27

Can honey be taken with hot water?
As per Ayurveda, honey and cold water combination is recommended. Any process involving heating of honey is not healthy. Even in Chyawanprash preparation, honey is added only after it cools down.
So, honey with cold water, in the morning, empty stomach is good to take. But avoid honey with hot water.
Read related: Hot water benefits, contra indications

Beneficial if used in diseases like
Diseases of fatty tissue origin (like obesity),
Respiratory disorders (used as vehicle in herbal powders and herbal jams used for respiratory conditions such as Talisadi Choorna, Sitopaladi Choorna, Agasthya rasayana etc. )
In diarrhoea, vomiting, worm infestation etc.

Read here to know benefits of  cinnamon and honey for weight loss

How much honey can be consumed in a day?
As per Ayurveda, honey has Lekhana property – this can be translated as “scraping out the cholesterol”, “useful in obesity, weight loss” etc. This is why we see usage of a teaspoon of honey along with luke warm water in the morning on empty stomach as a weight loss remedy.  (Hot water honey benefits)But because honey is sweet in nature, and sweet substances bring with them, nourishing qualities, it is not good to have excess of honey, if you are targeting weight loss.

Hence, Ayurveda recommends usage of up to 4 -5 teaspoons of honey, per day. This is the maximum limit per day, for an adult.

Honey as a co drink for Ayurvedic medicine –
Honey is an excellent co drink for many Ayurvedic medicines. It acts as a catalyst and helps to deliver medicines to the target area at a faster pace.
Honey is told as a co drink for the following Ayurvedic medicines.

Musli Khadiradi Kashayam

Honey qualities, indications

As per Sushruta Sutrasthana 45/132 and Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 5/51-52:
Madhura – sweet
Kashaya Anurasa – astringent sub taste
Rooksha – dry
Sheeta – coolant  
Improves appetite and digestive fire (Agnideepanam)
Improves skin complexion (Varnyam)
Improves voice quality – Svarya
Laghu – light to digest
Sukumara – improves softness of skin
Scrapes the inner side of the channels (lekhanam)
Good for heart (hrudya)
Vajikarana – aphrodisiac
Sandhana – heals wounds and fractures quickly
Cleanses and heals (shodhanam ropanam)
Good for eyes (chakshushyam)
Prasadhana – improves skin qualities
Penetrates deep into  body channels (sookshma marganusari)
Natural detox agent (vishaprashamanam)
Chakshushya – good for the eyes (vision),
Pitta shleshmahara – Balances Pitta and Kapha
Medohara – useful in obesity
Chedi – breaks up hard masses,
Trut – relieves thirst,
Shelshmahara – balances Kapha
Useful in
Visha – toxicity
Hidhma – hiccup
Asrapitta – bleeding conditions
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract diseases
Kushta – skin diseases
Krumi – worm infestation
Chardi – vomiting
Shwasa – dyspnoea, chronic respiratory diseases
Kasa – cough, cold
Atisara – diarrhoea
Vrana shodhana – cleanses wounds
Vrana sandhana, ropana – heals wound quickly
Vatala – increases Vata
Ruksha – dry
Kashaya, Madhura – astringent and sweet
As per Charaka, it is one of those ingredients, that can be taken on a daily basis. (Pathya).  (Reference: Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5/12)

According to Bhojana Kutuhala Honey which is fully formed alleviates all the three doshas, removes jadyatha from the body, hiccups etc, improves taste perception, promotes strength and intellect, improves mental stability and virility and helps to treat many illness. The one which is not fully formed cures immature gulma, diseases related to vitiated vata and pitta, burning sensation, vitiation of blood etc, It leads to depletion of dhatus and mainly affects the growth of the limbs.( Reference: Rajanighantu)

Honey is four types viz.
1. Makshika (honey collected by the red variety of honey bee)
2. Bhraamara (honey collected by Bhrunara type of bee)
3. Kshaudra (honey collected by small type of honey bee)
4. Paittaka (honey collected by Puttika type of bee- they are of big size.)
Of them, Makshika is the best; Bhramara is specially heavy.
Makshika type of honey is of the colour of til oil.
Paittika is of the colour of ghee.
Kshaudra is brown in colour and
Bhramara is of white colour.

Honey in general, aggravates of Vata, is heavy, cold in potency and detoxifies blood, Pitta as well as Kapha. It promotes healing and depletion.
Warm honey or honey taken by an individual suffering from excessive heat and burning sensation is fatal.
Honey should be taken in small quantity because it is heavy, unctuous, astringent in taste and cold in potency. [243-246]

Precaution for honey consumption

Nothing is so troublesome as Ama (indigestion) caused by the improper intake of honey.  Ama produced by the improper intake of honey causes instantaneous death like poison.[247-248]

Importance of honey
As it originates from flowers having different tastes, potencies etc. honey is the best Yogavahi – catalyst substance. That is to say, it carries the properties of the drugs added to it.

Clinical research

Clinical Research – Honey as a remedy for cough:
A research study was conducted by Cohen and colleagues, in Israel, with children from six community clinics during 2009. A total of 300 children took part in the study. The research revealed that honey extracts improved the cough symptoms very significantly. Cohen and colleagues concluded that honey given at bedtime was more effective than placebo in reducing the frequency and severity of nighttime cough. Improvement was universally much greater for the honey extracts, by as much as 20%, compared with the placebo extract. They suggest that honey could be used as a safe and effective cough suppressant for children from 1 year of age and older.

American Academy of Paediatricians (AAP) suggests to avoid honey in children below one year of age, due to the threat of botulism.

Side effects, contraindications

Honey side effects and contra indications:
Honey is not recommended for people with diabetes.
Equal quantity of honey and ghee is incompatible and should not be consumed.
Equal quantity of honey and sesame oil is also incompatible.
Honey along with ghee, even in unequal proportions, should not be consumed along with water. (Reference: Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 7th chapter)

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Toxic effects of honey

Honey and ghee should not be consumed together in equal quantities.
If Pitta body type person consumes madhu in higher dose it produces blood vitiation disorders.
Radish enhances the toxic effects of honey.
Honey should not be mixed with excess hot water or hot milk.
Using rain water mixed with honey is not beneficial.
Excess of Kakamachi (Solanum nigrum), fish and meat are contra indicated while a person is using excess of honey.
Madhu should not be used after prolonged exposure to excessive sunlight
Madhu should not be used during swedana – sweating treatment because it may cause acute circulatory failure and hypotension.

Advice to avoid heating – Kaiyadeva Nighantu
Honey should not be used by a person exposed to fire, during heavy summer or in an extremely hot place.
Honey should not be mixed with excessively hot foods.
However, during Vamana (emesis) and Basti treatment (enema), this rule is not applicable as honey does not undergo digestion.

Can a woman with PCOS take honey?
Honey contains good amounts of sugar. Hence, PCOS woman cannot take honey in large quantities. However, honey also has cleansing properties. Hence, just one teaspoon of honey, along with a teaspoon of lemon and a cup of water in the morning, 30 minutes before breakfast can be very beneficial in maintaining weight, which is a crucial part of PCOS management.

Honey for diabetes:
If the diabetes is well under control and if the patient is taking sugar in tea or coffee, then such a person can use 3 – 5 grams of honey per day. It serves good amounts of anti oxidants, useful to fight minor infections, and hence very useful in diabetes.

If the blood sugar is not under control and if the person is not advised to take any sugar at all, then it is best to avoid sugar.

Honey is an excellent wound healer. External application of honey to the feet helps to keep away diabetic foot ulcer.  

Honey for skin diseases

Can honey be applied on skin?
Dr JV Hebbar
Honey has below qualities and effect on skin. 

Rooksha – Dryness
Honey is drying in nature. This is opposite to oiliness / unctuousness. It can dry up the excess oiliness of the skin. People who have excessive oily skin that often leads to acne, can apply honey on the affected part of the face, daily. 
Wound healing:
व्रणशोधनसन्धाने व्रणसंरोपणादिषु |
साधारण्या मधु हितं तत्तुल्या मधुशर्करा ||१३३||
राजनिघण्टु – पानीयादिवर्ग
vraṇaśodhanasandhāne vraṇasaṃropaṇādiṣu |
sādhāraṇyā madhu hitaṃ tattulyā madhuśarkarā ||133||
rājanighaṇṭu – pānīyādivarga
Honey can be directly applied on the wounds to heal it faster. 
vraṇa śodhana –  honey cleanses and detoxifies wound
vraṇa sandhāna – honey brings the cut ends of the skin closer, faster. 
vraṇa saṃropaṇa – honey heals the wounds faster 
The same effects can be expected from madhu śarkara – the crystals of honey that are collected at the bottom of a vessel, when it is stored for many months. 
How to apply? 
Honey can be directly applied on the wounds. Or a bandage cloth can be smeared with honey and wrapped on the wounded part for faster healing. This way, the wounds are exposed to honey for longer hours. 

Clogged skin pores – Because honey has cleansing, detoxifying and drying action, its application on clogged skin pores can help to open them up, leading to quicker healing.

Lekhana – scraping effect 
Because of the penetrating and scraping effect, regular application of honey is beneficial to get rid of black heads, white heads and keratosis (scaly patch). 
Kaphahara – 
Honey is mentioned as the best remedy for Kapha Dosha. So, honey is useful to relieve skin itching and allergic dermatitis,
xanthelasma (cholesterol deposits near eyes), which are caused due to aggravated Kapha. 

Bacterial and fungal infections 
Honey has potent antibacterial and antifungal actions. Hence, useful in bacterial infections of the skin such as erysipelas, impetigo, folliculitis, furuncles and carbuncles.
It is also useful candida infection (Candidiasis). 

Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 7/70
Administration of Lelitaka (purified Sulphur) along with the juice of Amla together with honey is a remedy par excellence for the cure of 18 types of Kustha (skin diseases).

Formation of Honey

The saliva of Apis mellifera gets mixed with the nectar and is converted into dextrose and levulose by the action of invertase. Then it is regurgitated into the comb cells and gets dehydrated by the synchronised movement of the bees. It is stored and remains sealed as ripe honey. During the ripening of the honey, invertse converts the sucrose from nectar into invert sugars.

Ripe honey has about 80% sugar and less than 22% moisture.  Honey assumes different colour and possesses varied flavour and aroma depending upon the floral source from which it was collected. Read related: Honey harvesting and extraction

Crystallisation of honey

Crystallisation of honey occurs as a natural process due to the separation of dextrose as solid, leaving levulose in liquid form. Granulation may be either partial or complete. It liquefies when kept in warm water, granulation occurs with storage, cold weather, presence of minute air bubbles, colloids, pollen and dust particles.  Addition of fatty acids prevent crystallisation.

Fermentation of honey

Poorly processed, unripe honey, with excessive moisture will have the growth of yeast and decomposes the sugars in honey into acetic acid, Carbon dioxide and water. Ripened honey with 80% sugars and maintained at 22 % moisture is not liable to fermentation, but it may set in if kept exposed to atmosphere or upon granulation. Fermentation results in acids with souring thus it loses it nutritive value and gets a foamy layer on its top.

Adulteration of honey

Generally adultered with the cane sugar, corn syrup and commercial invert sugar. Genuine honey, unless over heated or stored for a long period, does not show positive reaction to Hydroxymethyl furfural.(HMG).

Old honey (Purana Madhu)

The honey which is one year old or more than that is considered as Purana Madhu.
Old honey is –
Grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhoea, IBS
Lekhana – has scraping property, useful in balancing Kapha, in respiratory disorders and in cholesterol / clot deposition in blood vessels
Rooksha – dry
Kashaya – astringent
It balances all the three Doshas, mainly Kapha.
Indicated in –
Sthoulya, Medoroga – obesity

Is it okay to take honey before food?
It is fine to take honey before food, or as part of meals.

Old vs Fresh Honey

How to use honey for weight loss? 
Dr JV Hebbar
Though honey is sweet in taste, it also has astringency, due to which, it is highly effective in weight loss. 
There is a famous remedy of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of honey, consumed every day in the morning for weight loss. It is mentioned in the Ayurvedic textbook Bhaishajya Ratnavali. The remedy name is Madhoodaka 
= Madhu + Udaka 
Madhu = honey 
Udaka = water. 
Whether to use hot water or cold water, all details, I have written here  

But there are two main types of honey. Old one and new one, explained beautifully by Acharya Bhavamishra, in the famous textbook BhavaPrakasha

नवं मधु भवेत्पुष्ट्यै नातिश्लेष्महरं सरम् |
पुराणं ग्राहकं रूक्षं मेदोघ्नमतिलेखनम् ||२३||
मधुनः शर्करायाश्च गुडस्यापि विशेषतः |
एकसंवत्सरे वृत्ते पुराणत्वं स्मृतं बुधैः ||२४||
भावप्रकाश-पूर्वखण्ड-मिश्रप्रकरण – २२. मधुवर्ग

navaṃ madhu bhavetpuṣṭyai nātiśleṣmaharaṃ saram |
purāṇaṃ grāhakaṃ rūkṣaṃ medoghnamatilekhanam ||23||
madhunaḥ śarkarāyāśca guḍasyāpi viśeṣataḥ |
ekasaṃvatsare vṛtte purāṇatvaṃ smṛtaṃ budhaiḥ ||24||
bhāvaprakāśa-pūrvakhaṇḍa-miśraprakaraṇa – 22| madhuvarga

navaṃ madhu – fresh honey
bhavet puṣṭyai – is nourishing
na ati śleṣmaharaṃ – It does not decrease Kapha Dosha very effectively 
saram – causes movement of bowels
purāṇaṃ – Old honey is
grāhakaṃ – absorbent, solidifies stool mass, mildly constipating,
rūkṣaṃ – drying in nature
medoghnam – decreases obesity
ati lekhanam – extremely useful in scraping out cholesterol and fat 
madhunaḥ śarkarāyāśca guḍasyāpi viśeṣataḥ  – when it comes to honey, candy sugar or honey, 
eka saṃvatsare vṛtte – one year old items 
purāṇatvaṃ smṛtaṃ budhaiḥ – are considered as Purana (old). 

So here, old honey means one year old. Old honey is useful against cholesterol, fat tissue and obesity. So, wherever you expect absorbent and fat burning effects, old honey is the best to use. 
Read related: Effective Obesity Treatment, Remedies, Ayurveda Tips
Where to get one year old honey? 
Wise thing to do is not to trust the market-available old honey. Do it yourself. 
Bring a few kilograms of honey, Fill it in mud pots up to 80% of pots’ capacity, seal it tightly. Keep it in a dry area, away from sun exposure for one year. 
Make it a habit every year and you will always have old honey available at home. 
The same technique can also be adopted to get old ghee. 
Read related: Old Ghee Uses, Dose, Side Effects (Purana Ghrita)

Honey – Ayurvedic types

Makshika Madhu
It is collected from bees which are dark coloured and big in size.
Color of Makshika Madhu – oily.
Indicated in –
Netraroga – eye disorders
Kamala – Jaundice, Liver diseases
Arsha – haemorrhoids
Kshata – injury, bleeding
Shwasa – asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Kasa – cough, cold
Kshaya – depletion of body tissues, weight loss, tuberculosis
It is considered best among all varieties of madhu.

Bhramara Madhu
It is collected by the bees which are smaller compared to Makshika bees. It is
Nirmala – very clear,
Sphatikabha – slightly white in color
Qualities  :-
Guru – heavy to digest
Picchila – Sticky, Slimy
Hima – coolant
Swadu – sweet taste
Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc
Mutrakrichra –Dysuria, urinary retention

Kshaudra Madhu
It is collected from the bees with Kapila Varna (brown colour)
Guna (qualities)
Laghu – light to digest
Rooksha – dry
Indicated in Prameha – Urinary tract disorders, diabetes, mainly Kaphaja Prameha

Pauthika Madhu
Black colour.
Guna (qualities) –
Laghu – light to digest,
Rooksha – dry
Ushna – hot
Indicated in :-
Vidaha – burning sensation,
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract disorders
Granthi – tumour, fibroid
Kshata – injury, bleeding
Shosha – emaciation.

Chatra Madhu
Bees, which produce Chatra Madhu are umbrella shaped. So the name Chatra Madhu.
Colour – Kapila peeta – brownish yellow.
Guna (qualities) –
Picchila – Sticky, Slimy
Sheeta – coolant
Guru – heavy to digest
Madhura – sweet
Indications –
Krumi – worm infestation
Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc
Bhrama – Delusion, Dizziness
Trushna – excessive thirst
Moha –Dizziness,

Arghya Madhu:
It is told that this type of honey is found as extract of trees.
Astringent and bitter in taste,
Katu – Pungent Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion)
Indicated in –
Dourbalya – weakness, fatigue
Shosha – emaciation

Auddalaka Madhu
The bees live in the ant hills. They produce small amount of brown coloured Honey called auddalaka madhu
Astringent and sour in taste, undergoes Katu vipaka (pungent taste conversion after digestion)
Indicated in –
Aruchi – anorexia
Swarabheda – hoarseness of voice
Kushta – skin diseases
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning

Dala Madhu
Madhura – sweet, Amla – sour in taste
Katu vipaka (pungent taste conversion after digestion)
Guru – heavy to digest
Indicated in –
Agnimandya – low digestion strength
Aruchi – anorexia
Chardi – Vomiting
Prameha – Urinary tract disorders, diabetes
Shosha – emaciation

Nava Madhu –
The honey which is less than one year is called as Navamadhu.
It is
Guru – heavy to digest
Sara – induces mobility, causes diarrhoea, purgation, relieves constipation
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Madhura – sweet
Balances Vata and Pitta Dosha.
It is nourishing and causes weight gain.
Abhishyandi – causes obstruction to the channel of circulation, causes coating inside the channels

Madhusharkara – Crystallised honey: (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
Crystallised honey is
Kashaya – astringent
Madhura – sweet
Rooksha – dry
Chedani – scraping
indicated in –
Raktapitta – bleeding disorders like nasal bleeding, Ulcerative colitis and menorrhagia
Kapha imbalance disorders
Chardi – vomiting
Trushna – Excessive thirst
Atisara – diarrhoea, dysentery
Daha – Burning sensation

Classical categorisation of Madhu –
Astanga Hridaya – Drava dravya, Madhu varga
Madhana pal Nighantu – Ikshukadi varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadivarga

Types of honey and its nature as per different texts of Ayurveda
References are from: Kaiyadeva Nighantu, Raja Nighantu, Dhanvantari Nighantu, Sharangdhara Nighantu 
Makshika Madhu: 

Pingala colour, Taila Varna, Ati Laghu (very light), Rooksha (dry), superior than other.
Character of bee: Medium sized, Sthola vanamakshika, Kapila varna, Reddish

Kapila varna, Ati sheetala (very coolant), laghu (light), Lekhana (scraping)
Bee: Named as kshudra, Smaller in size

Poutika Madhu:
Pingala, Ghrita samana (similar to ghee in consistency), sweet, Ushna veerya (hot), Vata Vardhana – can increase Vata Dosha
Raktapitta Karaka – can cause / worsen bleeding disorders
bhedaka – laxative,
mada karaka – intoxicating.
Nature of Bee:
Named as puttika, Very small bees, Black coloured
Lives in the pindakas at vruksha kotara, Big bees of pingala varna
Very  poisonous bees, it prepares
honey from poisonous flowers

Bhramara Madhu:
Sweta varna – white, Spatika varna, Picchila – sticky, Swadishta – tasty, Guru – heavy to digest
Bees have 6 limbs, smaller size
Black big bee called bhramara

Ardhya Madhu:
Peetha varna – yellow colour, Pingala varna,
chakshushya – good for eyes,
Ayushya – improves life span and quality
Cures aama
Bees look lika Bawaron, Peetha varna, Teeksna Mukha, Shadpadi – having six legs

Chatra Madhu:
Peeta kapila – yellowish brown
Pingala, Eeshath peetha, (slightly yellow)
guru – heavy to digestion,
krimihara – relieves intestinal worm infestation
Switrahara – useful in leucoderma
Rakta pitta hara – useful in bleeding disorders
Bees live in Himalayan region,
Bee hives are Chatrakara – similar to umbrella, round saucer shape 

Auddhalaka Madhu:
Pingala, Kapila, Swarna samana (golden yellow in colour)
Bitter and acrid in taste
Kusta vishahara – useful in the treatment of skin disorders and toxic conditions (poisoning)
Very small bees, live inside ant hills (Valmika),
White ants found in the nests.

Daala Madhu:
Unprepared honey found in the flowers,
Kaphahara, rooksha, deepana, useful in chardi, meha
Bees – Pingala varna, live in Vruksha Kotara,
Indraneela varna small bees living in the vraksha kotara

Honey – names in different languages:
Hindi name – Shahad
Kannada name – Jenu tuppa
Malayalam name – Thene
Tamil name – Thene
Marathi name – Madh
Konkani name – Movu
Gujarathi name – Madh
Manipuri name – Kohi
Oriya name – Mahu
Singhali name – Mipanny
Arab name – Injubinl
Persian name – Shahad
Burmese name – Pya-ya or honey
Latin name – Mel

Sanskrit synonyms

Pushparasa, Pushpasava – originates from flowers
Madhu – sweet in taste
Makshika, Madhvika, Kshaudra, Varati, Saradha.

Honey Vs. Sugar

Honey has astringent taste but sugar does not.
Honey is useful to break down and dry up the Kapha Dosha and phlegm.
Rock sugar is useful to give kapha a shape and melt it.
Honey is hotter.
Honey is useful in Kapha disorders such as cough, cold, asthma, etc.
Candy sugar is useful in Vata and Pitta disorders.
When honey is measured in terms of minerals, vitamins etc. it contains loads of useful compounds. 


1.  Honey in wound healing – It is an excellent wound healer. On any small wounds, applying a thin layer of honey benefits in quick wound healing.

2. Sore throat home remedies honey – Honey with a pinch of turmeric / ginger will heal the sore throat.

3. Honey acts as a vehicle  (Yogavahi) to other food articles/ herbal supplements such as Triphala churnam, Sitopaladi Churnam, Talisadi Churnam etc.

4. Honey in Ayurveda – Many Ayurvedic herbal jams like Chyawanprash contain honey as an essential ingredient. Apart from acting as a vehicle to the herbal ingredients, it also acts as a preservative.

5. Honey fat loss – Honey, mixed with a glass of water, taken every morning will help you lose fat. (Reference: Bhaishajya Ratnavali)

6. Replace sugar with honey – Sugar / aspartame can be replaced with honey wherever possible.

7. Acne home remedies honey –  3 grams of neem powder or turmeric powder is mixed with 3 ml of honey and applied over the acne in sufficient quantity for quick relief.

8. Cinnamon and honey benefits – Apart from these, Honey, in combination with cinnamon has many benefits such as wound healing, lowering serum creatinine levels and improving digestion.  

Honey for Obesity, PCOS, Hypothyroidism, Cholesterol

Is honey useful in Obesity, PCOS and hypothyroidism?
Dr JV Hebbar

Some substances have different sets of qualities when they are freshly collected and when they are old. Honey is one such substance.

नवान्येव हि योज्यानि द्रव्याण्यखिलकर्मसु ।
विना विडङ्गकृष्णाभ्यां गुडधान्याज्यमाक्षिकै: ॥ 

navānyeva hi yojyāni dravyāṇyakhilakarmasu |
vinā viḍaṅgakṛṣṇābhyāṃ guḍadhānyājyamākṣikai: || Sharangdhara Samhita, Madhyama Khanda 1st chapter, verse number 44 

All substances should be used within one year of its collection. But below mentioned substances can be used beyond one year. 

They are – 

Viḍaṅga – False black pepper – Embelia ribes,
Kṛṣṇa  – Pippali – Long pepper – Piper longum 
Guḍa – jaggery, molasses / unrefined sugar
Dhānya – grains 
ājya (ghee)  – In case of psychiatric disorders and in 
The treatment of epilepsy, Purana ghrita (old ghee) is prescribed. 
mākṣika (honey)

These can be used even after 1 year of storage. 
Read: Collection And Preservation Of Ayurvedic Herbs

So, freshly collected honey has slightly different qualities compared to one year old honey.

Raja Nighantu Paneeyadi Varga, Verse number 131
navaṃ madhu – New honey, within one year of its collection, 
havet sthaulyaṃ  – can cause increase of obesity
nātiśleṣmakaraṃ param  – can slightly increase Kapha Dosha. 
purāṇaṃ madhu – One year old honey
deha sthaulya āpahaṃ – relieves obesity. 
grāhi – Has absorbent and wound healing properties, expel our or dry out excess moisture or water content in the body
lekhanam – Has scraping qualities. 

So, one year old honey is suitable for the treatment of obesity. It is healing and scraping, it de-nourishes and decreases the water retention in the body.  It scrapes out the excess fat.

Its scraping and de-nourishing qualities are also useful in polycystic ovarian disease, where there is insulin resistance, obesity, water retention and it can lead to decreased thyroid gland functions. 
For people with PCOS, old honey is very suited. 
Whereas, new honey is nourishing in nature and can contribute to an increase in blood sugar levels. Hence, not suitable for patients of obesity or PCOS or hypothyroidism. New honey can potentially increase Kapha Dosha, which is not desired in PCOS or obesity. 

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu Madhu Varga verse 23 – 24 
navaṃ madhu bhavet puṣṭyai – New honey is sweet and nourishing in nature. 
na ati śleṣmaharaṃ – It does not decrease Kapha Dosha, it increases Kapha dosha. 
saram – It improves bowel movement. 
purāṇaṃ grāhakaṃ – Old honey is grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhea, absorbs moisture.
rūkṣaṃ – It is drying in nature
medoghnam – it decreases cholesterol and fat tissue
ati lekhanam – It has a scraping effect. 

madhunaḥ śarkarāyāśca guḍasyāpi viśeṣataḥ – Specially, honey, candy sugar and jaggery, 
eka saṃvatsare vṛtte -When they are one year old, 
purāṇatvaṃ smṛtaṃ budhaiḥ – are considered as old, and called Purana. For example, honey is madhu and one year old honey is called Purana Madhu in Ayurveda. 

We have learnt that one year old honey is good for obesity, cholesterol, cysts, tumors, PCOS and hypothyroidism.
Read: Effective Obesity Treatment, Remedies, Ayurveda Tips

Where to buy one year old honey? 
Look for the date of manufacturing. If the honey you bought was packed six months before, then keep it as it is in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight or moisture, for six more months. Then it will be one year old and use it. 

How much old honey can be consumed? 
5 – 10 ml, 1 – 2 teaspoons a day is good to use. Honey with water, called Madhudaka is a famous remedy for obesity. 10 ml honey can be added to 1 cup of water and can be consumed in the morning on an empty stomach.
Read: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies, Diet

Two caveats here: 
1. Honey will not cure obesity / hypothyroidism. You may need proper treatment but it is an ideal diet ingredient to include in these conditions, to help recover faster. 
2. If obesity patient has constipation, then purana madhu (old honey) may slightly worsen it. Hence, care is to be exercised, not to overdose beyond a couple of teaspoons a day.
Read: Hypothyroidism Causes, Symptoms, Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies

Honey with Triphala

Can Triphala with honey be given for balancing Vata dosha and to relieve neuropathy pain and to improve skin health? 
Dr JV Hebbar 
Triphala is a simple combination of three fruits – Haritaki, Amla and Vibhitaki. It is extremely useful in a variety of skin diseases. It is used for the treatment of non healing wounds, diabetic foot, abscess, piles, fistula etc. It clears skin infection very effectively. 
Triphala mainly balances Kapha and Pitta Dosha. Its dominant taste is astringent and due to it, it can cause dryness. 
Triphala and Vata dosha have some love-hate relationship. 
Triphala use can cause some amount of skin dryness. Dryness is a quality of Vata dosha. So, Triphala can increase Vata dosha on the skin. But Triphala relieves bloating and acts as a very mild and safe laxative, so it reduces gas and Vata dosha in the gut. 
Read: Triphala Churna Benefits, Ingredients, Dose, Side Effects, How to Take

Triphala is an effective anti ageing medicine. It rejuvenates the tissues and organs and is safe for long term use. Ageing and degenerative tissue damage is due to aggravated Vata dosha. So, Triphala balances Vata dosha to rejuvenate the body tissues, especially of liver, digestive tract, eyes and pancreas. 
Read: Rasayana Therapy (Anti Ageing, Rejuvenation) Benefits, Meaning, Medicines

Honey, though sweet, is drying in nature. Therefore honey balances Kapha dosha but it can increase Vata dosha. 

So, Triphala with honey is not an ideal combination for Vata balance and to treat neuropathy or such other neurological conditions. 
Rather, Triphala with Sesame oil or Triphala with Ksheerabala capsule is a better combination for the said purpose. 
Buy Edible Sesame Oil from Easy Ayurveda Shop

Honey for weak digestion?

Can Honey be given to people with weak digestion and anorexia? Does it reduce the muscle mass?
Dr JV Hebbar 
Weak digestion strength and anorexia – lack of taste in food, aversion towards food – these are symptoms of aggravated Kapha dosha. 
Honey balances Kapha Dosha and is useful in treating the above conditions. 
But honey itself can cause indigestion if taken in very high quantities. So, just 2 – 4 teaspoons of honey per day is good. In cases of severe indigestion and anorexia, some spice powders like ginger, black pepper, etc. can be administered along with honey. 

About the muscle mass question: If taken in small doses of 2 – 4 teaspoons per day, it does not cause any reduction in muscle mass. But in very high doses, for long periods of a few months, because of its slight dryness quality, it may slightly reduce muscle strength (not to a very great extent, but just slightly). 
Read: Hot Water Honey Benefits, Limitations, Remedies

54 comments on “Honey Qualities, Usage, Remedies, Ayurvedic Benefits

  • Shiva kumar P

    29/04/2011 - 4:51 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Am glad to message you this way sir, and want to clarify one doubt regarding whether or not one can add honey into hot water before using, where as in some sriptures it is said not to add honey with hot things in some boil honey with herbs for herbal tea please clarify whether we can heat honey or not with water or not
    Thank you

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      09/05/2011 - 1:20 pm

      Dear Sir,
      According to Ayurveda, heat treatment of honey is contra indicated.
      In any Ayurvedic method of manufacturing, honey is never heated.
      It can be added to hot water or any hot herbal teas, when the temperature of herbal tea is not more than 60 degree Celsius, approximately. That is why, during making of chyawanprash etc, honey is added only at the last stage, when the vessel is taken out of fire.
      I hope the issue is clarified.

      Reply to comment
  • kamala

    24/02/2012 - 7:38 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I was told that we should take honey for two months and then take a break for a month and repeat this cycle. Is there is a problem if I take one tea spoon of honey everyday without stopping in between.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      24/02/2012 - 9:26 pm

      Considering massive adulteration done with honey, I reckon it makes sense to give a time gap as you told. If you are very much sure about the quality of honey, then I do not have any problem in using it continuously without any time gap.

      Reply to comment
  • shashank

    19/12/2012 - 4:41 pm

    what are the best available brands of honey in the market

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      19/12/2012 - 8:21 pm

      Not sure about the quality but Dabur and Himalaya have.

      Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    29/12/2012 - 8:15 pm

    The honey might not be of good quality. Try a better quality honey. Try taking it in morning and watch if you feel any better.
    It does not cause diabetes. But it is not recommended to take honey if you have diabetes.

    Reply to comment
  • canis

    11/10/2013 - 7:58 am

    Hi Doctor,

    Is good for Dabur and Himalaya brand’s honey ? Are they treated by high heat? In Hong Kong, I found Dabur brand sold in the market. A research from honey in the supermarket including famous brand Maluka honey produced by New Zealand, the reported showed that they are unhealthy to human being. It may be treated by high heat and removed thier natural elements. Some organic honey has mentioned heat below 45 degree, can this honey acceptable ?

    Tks for sharing !


    Reply to comment
  • Raj

    04/02/2014 - 10:51 pm

    Dear Dr. hebbar,

    Pls advise whether A teasppon of honey + Half a Lemon + Pinch of cinnamon powder mixed in a glass of water can be taken on empty stomach every morning as a weight loss remedy.


    Reply to comment
  • Monique

    29/10/2014 - 4:28 am

    Just to make sure about honey, I drink herbal tea every night, and a teaspoon of honey to it after it is boiled. Is this ok? What about putting honey on toast?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      05/11/2014 - 8:34 pm

      If it is just lukewarm and not very hot, then honey can be added to the tea or toast.

      Reply to comment
  • Madhusmrita Baruah Barbora

    18/12/2014 - 10:02 am

    Good and quite helpful.

    Reply to comment
  • Gaurav

    07/03/2015 - 10:19 pm

    “Warm honey or honey taken by an individual suffering from hat is fatal because during the process of collection it is contaminated with poisonous material from the bees themselves or from the various poisonous plants.”

    — is there a typo somewhere here — “hat is fatal”
    — does this mean that heated honey is fatal because the poisons contained inside the honey become activated or something like that, at high temperatures?


    Reply to comment
  • Gaurav

    29/02/2016 - 12:01 am

    Can honey be taken (one spoon) after a meal which includes ghee? (to help digestion and replace ‘sweet’ dessert)

    Reply to comment
    • Dr Malini Bhat

      01/03/2016 - 10:46 am

      Sir, Only honey can be taken minus the ghee.

      Reply to comment
      • Gaurav

        01/03/2016 - 11:23 am

        Sorry for the confusion. I meant that the meal includes ghee. Can honey alone be taken after such a meal? thank you.

        Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    14/04/2016 - 11:31 pm

    Dear Kebulananda,
    Very keen observations!
    Honey is hot in nature, when you take it in normal dose – 5- 10 ml per day.
    Still it may cause indigestion problems in the below 2 situations.
    1. When it is taken excessively, its sweetness over-rules its hotness and may cause Kapha increase / indigestion problems.
    2. Honey is not as hot as, say black pepper or ginger. Hence, when the person has low digestion strength and takes excess of honey, it may cause honey indigestion.

    How can honey pacify heartburn?
    Like I said, it is not as hot as spices. It is also soothing to mucous membrane of stomach.
    Regarding Dosha balancing effect of honey, apply your own Yukti (intellect).

    Reply to comment
    • Kebulananda

      18/04/2016 - 3:17 pm

      Thank you very much for clarifying reply.
      My Yukti, i am afraid, is not enough to solve this puzzle:( i will try to find and answer through experience, if i am lucky, i will let you know. So far i am inclined to believe that through its roughness and dryness, it is not vata pacifiing, and that probably depending on the season, time of the day and quantity eaten (licked:)), it aggravates vata. By the way, i am not sure if it would mean all panchavayu or just some particular one. Anyway thanks for all these commentaries below your articles.

      Reply to comment
  • Isa

    22/04/2016 - 12:39 pm

    I bought Kshaudra brown honey for weight loss. Now I’ve read Makshika is supposed to be taken for weight loss. Shall I switch to Makshika intake now?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      23/04/2016 - 12:16 am

      You can finish Kshaudra first, if you do not get desired result, only then switch to Makshika.

      Reply to comment
  • Riyad vp

    29/05/2016 - 10:39 am


    Honey for face and neck apply benefits…..explain

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      30/05/2016 - 2:53 pm

      It is a good anti micorbial agent, hence useful in treating acne, acne scars, and to cleanse the skin.

      Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    03/10/2016 - 10:23 pm


    Reply to comment
  • v.r.k.raman

    12/12/2016 - 9:43 pm

    v.r.k.raman u.s.a. very informative and useful article.
    I add one tea spoon of honey to my breakfast dessert of
    banana, orange and apple/pear etc.
    Is it o.k?

    Reply to comment
  • chinmaya

    07/05/2017 - 1:19 pm

    In arya vaidya sala, there is something called Samskritamadhu .
    What is it? Why madhu is required for samskar?
    How Samskritamadhu is made?
    When should one use normal madhu & when shoukd one use Samskritamadhu ?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      07/05/2017 - 2:55 pm

      I believe it is normal honey itself.

      Reply to comment

    15/06/2017 - 10:54 pm

    Wonderful article.

    Sir please correct this in toxic effects of honey
    “Honey and ghee should be consumed together in equal quantities.”

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      16/06/2017 - 3:51 pm

      Thank you so much for the correction.

      Reply to comment
  • sarang barjatya

    31/07/2017 - 1:14 pm

    How to use honey for lung cleansing?

    Reply to comment
  • Sameer

    08/09/2017 - 3:02 pm

    Dear Doctor,
    Since honey is hot in nature and not recommended for pita, does taking it with cold water as a drink decrease its heat potency? How can children of pita type take honey?

    Reply to comment
  • Sameer

    24/09/2017 - 11:59 pm

    Dear Doctor,
    Honey and ghee or other oils cannot be mixed in equal portions for consumption because it may be poisonous, but can bee wax and coconut oil be mixed to use as topically on skin for psoriasis or as lip balm? Do honey and bee wax have same properties?

    Reply to comment
    • Sameer

      27/09/2017 - 6:58 pm

      Thankyou for your reply doctor, but I’m confused. Are you saying beewax and coconut oil can be mixed to use as balm?

      Reply to comment
      • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

        09/10/2017 - 12:31 pm

        honey and bee wax 4:1 ratio
        coconut oil and bee wax 5:1 ratio -> heat -> self cool.
        Any one of the above combinations can be used for applying externally.

        Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    20/10/2017 - 12:35 pm

    It is useful to improve your health overall. But it will not cure you from goiter

    Reply to comment
  • Tanishq Bhasin

    31/10/2017 - 8:19 pm

    ok.thanx for replying sir..then why is it written honey can’t be taken with ghee??

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      11/11/2017 - 10:29 pm

      The exact scientific reason is yet to be explored. Honey with ghee in equal quantities is not good

      Reply to comment
  • Tanishq Bhasin

    31/10/2017 - 8:22 pm

    also..is honey incompatible with common salt?? because dal which we make contains common salt also..so can we consume honey after eating such dal

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      11/11/2017 - 10:31 pm

      Eating dal after consuming honey is fine.

      Reply to comment
  • Ankur Gupta

    27/05/2018 - 1:01 am

    Hi. How to use honey since I have too much of pitta dosh?
    Thank you

    Reply to comment
  • Vin

    16/07/2018 - 1:27 am

    You have mentioned honey as sheeta and coolant in above article which is contrast to other statements where you have mentioned that honey is hot for body. Please clear that doubt.

    Also please share your thoughts on ulcerative colitis or make an article on it. Can u suggest any diet, herbal remedies, food to take and to avoid for UC?

    Reply to comment
  • ssheikhar

    17/08/2018 - 3:40 pm

    Dear Dr. Hebbar,

    Is honey compatible with salt?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/08/2018 - 6:10 pm

      These two have not been contra indicated with each other. But I have seen very less of this combination.

      Reply to comment

    18/09/2018 - 7:09 pm

    Hello Doctor,

    I am taking 2 teaspoon in luke warm water early morning, and the same before bed everyday. Is this ok?

    And I have always heard in my home that honey is ushna, but here it is said it is sheeta

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      20/09/2018 - 11:13 am

      1. Looks fine.
      2. Honey is between hot and cold. Cannot be considered as too hot or too cold.

      Reply to comment
  • Divya

    30/09/2018 - 4:31 pm

    Hello Doctor,
    I want to replace Sugar with honey for my tea and coffee. But I prefer the drink hot. Please advise

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      26/10/2018 - 12:13 pm

      Hi, as per Ayurveda, adding honey to a hot beverage is not recommended. You can try jaggery (sweet molasses) instead.

      Reply to comment
    • Eugene Gauggel

      21/11/2018 - 1:52 am

      In my understanding heating honey is not a good idea because it contributes to the formation of aam, undigested food and mucus…thus it is highly undesirable.

      Reply to comment
  • PP Patel

    20/11/2019 - 6:47 pm

    Mr. Hebber,, As Most of honey bee typically a Apis Mellifera so How would we identified that Honey produce from such bee is of which type according to types of honey in ayurveda. ?

    Almost so many brand sold honey on attractive price & scheme of Free/ Promotional gift. How is this possible without adulteration of Inverted Sugar or by feeding bees to a concentrate sugar solution.?

    Have you done study of costing of raw Honey :-
    1)starting from Apiary- Honey bees developement, Box, Bee, & other Charges
    2)Time duration of collection of honey in Single slot/ Phase
    3) charge of Labor & Filtration/ Cleaning Wax & other pollen etc.,
    4)Transportation charges from One Farm / Area to storage Area

    Marketing Cost :-
    1)Raw Honey Transportation Expenses collect from farmer/ Supplier to Buyer company/Buyer-Marketer
    2) Packing (inner-Outer & Master), Labor, Internal Dealer to Retailer supply/Distribution Cost.
    3) Dealer & Retailer Margin

    How Honey Retail cost to Rs.150 / 500 gm with scheme & Rs.300/ 1 kg. with scheme to customer,

    Do exercise with costing then told us …Dabur, Apis, Patanjali, Himalaya all Honey is genuine honey provider or treated / Adulterated provider..

    Waiting for your knowledge, Experience & Intelligence proof answer ????

    Reply to comment
  • Chaitali Banerjee

    23/12/2020 - 2:16 pm

    While making some namkeen snacks we add honey & black pepper.Is this combination ok? (Since honey should not be mixed with hot food)

    Reply to comment
  • Dhananjay Baldha

    23/09/2021 - 3:59 pm

    Is it true that honey and ghee can be used in Equal quantity when we mix it to other drugs like in chavanprash?????

    Please answer this question
    This question is asked in AIAPGET2021

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      23/09/2021 - 8:26 pm

      केवलानां मध्वादीनां समांशानां उपयोगो विरुद्ध:, न तु द्रव्यान्तर सयुक्तानाम् ।
      अपि तु द्रव्यान्तरसयुक्तानां तेषां संयोग संस्कारादि वशात् विशिष्टगुणान्तरोत्पत्ति: दृष्टा ।
      kevalānāṃ madhvādīnāṃ samāṃśānāṃ upayogo viruddha:, na tu dravyāntara sayuktānām |
      api tu dravyāntarasayuktānāṃ teṣāṃ saṃyoga saṃskārādi vaśāt viśiṣṭaguṇāntarotpatti: dṛṣṭā |
       Sarvanga Sundara commentary on Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 7/39

      This rule is applied only when ghee and honey are used together, in equal quantities. This rule is not applied when other ingredients are involved. For example, In the Chyawanprash, there is honey and ghee in equal quantities. (Reference: Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Rasayana Chapter) In Agastya Haritaki Rasayana (reference: Ashtanga Hrudaya Chikitsa Sthana, 3/128), This is because the other ingredients used along with honey and ghee and the processing involved in preparing the medicines or food recipes would negate the ill effects.

      Reply to comment

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