Honey Under Heat
(Why you should never overheat honey!)
Honey, nature’s sweet nectar, was considered by the ancients of Vedic civilization as one of the most remarkable gifts to mankind, and it is still, when used properly, revered today. Honey that is properly used possesses unique nutritional and medicinal properties.
The sugars in honey are glucose, fructose and sucrose. Glucose is the simplest of the sugars. It occurs in the blood of all living beings, in fruit and in vegetable juices. It is essential in the restoration and metabolism of oxygen in our bodies.
Fructose crystallizes more easily than glucose and is responsible for helping to build up our tissues. Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose. Dextrin, a gummy substance, is found in small amounts in honey and makes it more digestible.
Honey enters directly into the bloodstream because of its dextrin content, and this provides many benefits, according to Ayurveda. It is considered one of the finest all-purpose remedies for many different types of imbalances:
- weak digestion
- heart palpitation
- irritating cough
- itching of the eyes
Additionally honey provides energy, soothes pain, acts as an antiseptic, hastens healing and is effective in aiding in the cure of burns, wounds, and sores. Learn more about the traditional uses of honey in Ayurveda here.
Honey is also known for the healing qualities of the pollen harvested by the bees. Honey harvested in an area with the predominance of one type of flowering plant may have a healing effect that is different than honey produced by bees in an area where other plants predominate. In ancient times, Ayurvedic practitioners kept bees in locations with certain herbs to specifically create a unique healing effect!
With all of its many natural benefits, honey is a wonderful complement to our lives.
Proper Intake of Honey (Never overheat honey!)
However, using honey properly, as it was intended, is of the utmost importance.
Charak, the ancient sage of Ayurveda, wrote:
“Nothing is as troublesome as the Ama caused by improper intake of honey.”
According to Ayurveda, Ama — toxic undigested matter in the body — is considered to be the root cause of most illnesses! Toxins that build up in the body can provide a fertile breeding ground for disease. Ama clogs the channels of the body, impeding communication in the metabolism process, preventing nutrients from being delivered efficiently to the cells and preventing wastes from being discharged efficiently from the body.
The Heating of Honey
Charak makes it clear that when honey is heated, it becomes very hard to digest and produces unwanted qualities. This is supported by modern science. A study showed that when honey is heated, it produces a chemical called hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde (HMF), a substance linked in certain forms to toxicity and possible links to carcinogenic effects. Heating honey also alters its chemical contents in other ways (e.g. increases the peroxides, etc.). Peroxides are known for their unhealthy effect.
When heated, honey is difficult to digest; it produces toxins, and the molecules become glue-like, adhering to the mucous membranes, clogging the channels, and producing ama!
According to Ayurveda, only raw unheated honey should be used, and it should never be cooked. Heating honey is reputed to create a toxin, madhu ama, which can be very difficult to get rid of once it enters the body. Care should be taken to avoid cereals, breads, baked goods and other “health food” products that include honey which has been cooked.
Love to add honey to hot tea? No need to worry — it is fine to use honey in your hot drinks; just let them cool to a warm temperature prior to adding your honey.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.