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The 8 Ayurvedic Honeys from India: 3.000 Years of a Healthy Tradition

The 8 Ayurvedic Honeys from India: 3.000 Years of a Healthy Tradition

The 8 Ayurvedic Honeys from India: 3.000 Years of a Healthy Tradition

How did honey have such a big cultural influence in India? And how did this country become one of the largest exporters of honey in the world, with an increase in production and exports of 200%?

 

India, this populous and intriguing country, with a very strong and diverse culture, is well known for its spices. Sailors from around the world traveled there to explore its diversity. But a specific product has a very strong and important tradition in that country's culture: honey.

 

Honey, a sweet, slimy substance produced by bees, is widely used in the food industry. It is a product of the work of bees that suck the sweet nectar from flowers or honeydew and then, after a process of regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation, this turns into honey.

 

It was the first product used as a sweetener in the world. Prehistoric paintings (6000 B.C.) in the rocky caves in Bhimbetka in India showed men removing bee hives that were built on the rocks. Indian sacred scriptures, The Vedas, dated 3500 B.C. already mentioned honey.

 

In Indian culture, honey has an important role and in many religions, it is considered food for the gods. Honey is mentioned in the ancient scriptures as Hindu Vedic, Buddhist, Kamasutra, and Ayurvedic texts.

 Ayurveda Honey from India

In Hinduism honey is considered one of the elixirs of life and in the ritual called Madhu Abhisheka, honey is poured on the deities to worship them. Honey is also left on the altar as a gift to the gods. Madhava is one of the first names of the gods Vishnu and Krishna, and in Sanskrit is a Vriddhi derivation of the word Madhu, which means honey. Then it became an adjective describing anything related to honey or sweetness. Also, they are represented with a blue bee upon a lotus flower. There is also a Hindu Bee Goddess Bhrami who resided in the heart chakra and emitted the buzz of bees. Nowadays, this buzz is imitated in Vedic chants. In Hindu wedding ceremonies, honey is used to send away evil spirits and guarantee a happy life for the couple. Even today, many Hindus who consume honey believe that it brings strength, health, wisdom, and happiness.

 

In the Buddhist legend, Gautama Buddha, during a retreat, he was fed by a monkey and an elephant. The monkey brought honeycomb and the elephant fruit and protected him from other animals. When Buddha accepted the honeycomb gift, the monkey was so happy that he started jumping from tree to tree and suddenly he fell and died. However, because of his generosity, he was immediately reborn. It is believed that this happened at the full moon and that is why honey has its festival called Madhu Purnima or “honey full moon” which is celebrated in the 10th lunar month during the full moon in India and Bangladesh. Therefore, at this festival, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monkeys.

 

Ayurveda is an alternative medicine with most of its roots in India. Therapies are usually based on a complex component of herbal and mineral substances. In Ayurvedic medicine, the honey used is purified honey called Samskrita Madhu and is produced following the Ayurvedic scriptures. Honey is used to cure many diseases, it is anti-bactericidal, contains antioxidants and enzymes, improves the digestive system, helps in the reduction of toxins, fat, and cholesterol in the body, helps in weight loss, removes congestion, improves sore throats, soothes coughs, promotes rejuvenation, enhances the potency of herbs when taken together, heals wounds and burns. It is also used as a natural sweetener and preservative. For Ayurvedic medicine, honey should not be heated or consumed hot due to its toxic effects, which is why honey is usually used cold.

 

In Ayurveda there are eight different types of honey:

 

  • Makshikam: used to treat eye diseases, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough, and tuberculosis;
  • Bhraamaram: used for urinary tract disorders and digestive problems. Also for blood-related problems, especially when blood is vomited;
  • Kshoudram: used to treat diabetes;
  • Pauthikam: used to treat diabetes and reduce the size of tumors;
  • Chatham: used in the treatment of worm infestation, when blood is vomited, and diabetes;
  • Aardhyam: used to treat eye disease, cough, and anemia;
  • Ouddalakam: It is astringent honey and widely used for skin diseases. It is also used for the throat to improve voice modulation and on the treatment of lepers and poisoning cases;
  • Dalam: improves digestion and helps in the treatment of cough, vomiting, and diabetes.

 After the independence of India, Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated the importance of honey by including it in rural development programs. And since the 1990s, honey production has increased considerably in India, making it one of the largest honey exporters in the world. In the past 12 years, honey production has increased by 200% and exportation by 207%, according to the India Express newspaper.

Based on the distribution channel, the Indian honey market can be divided into the following:

 

  • Business to Consumer;
  • General Trade;
  • Modern Trade Facilities
  • E-Commerce;
  • Business to Business;
  • Food and Beverage;
  • Pharmaceuticals;

Based on flavor, the industry can be divided as follows:

  •  Multiflora;
  • Eucalyptus;
  • Ajwain;
  • Sidr;

There are five main species of bees in India: Apis dorsata (Rock Bee), Apis Laboriosa, Apis cerana indica (indian hive bee), Apis florea (dwarf bee), Apis mellifera, Tetragonulla iridipennis (Dammer or stingless bee).

 

With this growth and its history, honey is widely used in Indian cuisine. Honey can be used to help browning meats and for glazing roasts and marinades. As well as to season curries like Indian Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. It can be used on salad dressings, drinks, teas, and desserts like the traditional Gulab Jamun, a traditional Indian sweet, similar to donuts, made with milk solids, typically from Khoya, and then bathed in a syrup that can be made of sugar or honey and spices.

Honey is a millenary product largely used until today around the world. It has a great impact on several cultures and it maintains its importance since It is the only natural sweetener in the world, unaltered and unprocessed. Also, it has proven benefits with years of traditions and studies.

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