Honey: A medicine

Dr. Muneer Jabari & Nadeem Dar
Crystallization doesn’t indicate the quality of honey. There is a large variation in colour, aroma and taste of honey. Honey will not spoil in any condition if Properly harvested, handled and stored. Do not be assumed that thin honey is not of good quality. Honey is Medicine

Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance made by Honey bees (Apis mellifera,Apis cerana)in Kashmir valley. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Bees store honey in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping or apiculture.

*Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium,Zinc
Chemical composition of honey (values in g/100g)

Water content 17.1
Fructose 38.2
Glucose 31.0
Sucrose 1.5
Other disaccharides 4.2
Oligosaccharides 4.6
Total carbohydrates 79.8
Dietary fibre 0.2
Minerals* 0.5
Amino-acids, proteins 0.3
Acids 0.5
Vitamins(B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 & C ) >0.5

Honey has been in usage since the ancient period. Several cave paintings in Spain depict humans foraging for honey at least 8,000 years ago. It has found an immense place in Quran & Ayurveda and the medicinal value of this product has been long recognized in India. In India, an approximate value of 70,000 tonnes of honey is produced and about 25,000 tonnes of it is exported to other countries. In Kashmir Honey bee rearing has its old history and was done traditionally in the walls of old houses called “Lopun/Troper”there are 4280 Apis Cerana Colonies kept either traditionally or in modern hives.
People are always demanding pure honey and saying” khand ma chus ralle” (means if it is adulterated with sugar). There are different types of honey differentiated on the basis of floral source and season. In Kashmir, there are mainly two types of honey which differ in colour, Taste, and aroma. Acacia honey (kikkar maunch)-white transparent in colour harvested in June and Isodon regosus honey locally called “solai maunch” and is light reddish in colour.
The Miracle of Honey in Quran More than 1400 years ago Allaah and His messenger told us that honey can heal a variety of medical problems. Honey is described as a source of healing in the Quran: “And the Lord inspired the bee, saying: Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)’. There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying colors wherein is healing for men. Verily in this is indeed a sign for people who think” (28,29) and a Hadith is that honey can treat all ailment except aging.
Here are some facts, misconceptions and myths that you must know before you purchase your bottle.
• If your honey has crystallized (granulate or solidify) that doesn’t mean it is impure or adulterated or spoiled because pure honey also crystallizes within few weeks of months after extraction when temperature goes below 18 ̊c. the truth is crystallization of honey is a natural and uncontrolled process containing more than 70% of sugars and less than 20% of water. Hence overtime, almost all pure raw honey crystallizes. The composition ratio of glucose and fructose in a floral nectar source determines how fast the honey crystallizes. Honey source with a low fructose to glucose ration such as multi-flora honey crystallizes swiftly in days and weeks, while honey varieties with a high fructose to glucose ratio such as acacia honey crystallize slowly. During crystallization, glucose sugar which is naturally pure white, separates from water and becomes crystals, while fructose remains as a liquid.so if you see that the honey is crystallized, don’t assume that it is impure, adulterated or spoiled because crystallization doesn’t indicate the quality of honey.
Solution:-To return a bottle of crystallized honey to liquid state, simply place it over a warm water bath of about 40 ̊c for about 15 minutes or as soon as the granules have dissolved. Remember don’t directly heat honey, by doing so, it would lose beneficial properties. Store honey at room temperature in air-tight container, refrigerating and microwaving as not recommended.
• We generally think that the light colour honey is always the best; however, this is simply a myth. There is a large variation in colour, aroma and taste of honey. It depends on the availability of floral nectar and season. Colour of honey ranges from very light watery colour to dark brown and taste also varies. Sometimes honey is blended of poly-floral source
• Honey will not spoil in any condition if properly harvested (if the moisture content is less than 20%), handled and stored. Otherwise honey tends to ferment and produce acidic smell. Archaeologists have discovered clay vessels filled with honey, wine and olive-oil more than 3,000 years old in the tomb of the pharaohs. The wine and olive oil has spoiled, but the honey remained intact and still edible.
• Honey contains moisture level ranging from 18% – 24% (depending on the time and season of collection). Less the moisture, thicker will be the honey and vice-versa. Other nutritional content is same in all types of honey. Also honey appears thinner in summer season because of its elevated temperature. So it must not be assumed that thin honey is not of good quality.
Uses of honey
1. Honey is an energy rich food.
2. It is antibacterial and antiseptic.
3. It helps in digestion.
4. It relieves from sore throat and cough
5. It helps in weight loss.
6. It combats anaemia.
7. It balances blood pressure.
8. It builds immune-system.
9. It reduces inflammation.
10. It heals burns and wounds.
Simple Tests to Verify the Purity of Honey
 Water Glass test:-Take a glass of water and pour one tablespoon of honey in it, gently shake the glass, do not stir. If the honey completely dissolved in water, it is impure; on the other hand if it stays as a mass, it is pure.
 Methylated spirit test: – Stirring half a glass of honey into half a glass of methylated spirit. Pure honey will simply settle at the bottom without dissolving. Impure honey will dissolve, turning the methylated spirit milky.
 Flame Test:- Dip a cotton wick into the honey and shake off the excess. Attempt to light a match or candle and hold the soaked end of wick in the flame. If the cotton wick burns, this is a sign that the honey is pure. If it does not burn, this typically signifies that the honey contains water, which will prevent burning. If the honey contains just a small amount of water, it may still burn but you will hear a crackling sound.
 Absorption test:- Pour a few drops of honey on to blotting paper. If it is pure, it will not be absorbed into the paper.Alternatively,if you don’t have any blotting paper, pour a bit of honey on a piece of white cloth and then wash it.if the honey is pure, it will not leave a stain on the cloth.
 Thumb test
Put a small drop of the honey you have on your thumb Check to see if it spills or spreads around If it does, it is not pure .Pure honey will stay intact on your thumb.
 Free flow test:- Take a spoon of honey, drop it from a height in another or same container, it should make flow without cut.

Although there is healing in honey for a variety of medical disorders, certain precautions should be taken:
• Children under the age of one year should not be given honey due to the possibility of infant botulism. This type of food poisoning can be deadly; however, it only seems to affect infants under one year of age.
• If you have any known allergies to specific plants, then you should make sure the honey you are using is not produced from that plant.
• People with allergies to bee stings should be careful when using other bee related products such as propolis or royal jelly.
Dr. Muneer Jabari
Assistant professor
SKUAST Shalimar
Email:- [email protected] Nadeem Dar
Senior Research Fellow
SKUAST Shalimar
Email: [email protected]

( The author Dr Muneer Jabari is Assistant professor and Nadeem Dar a research fellow at SKUAST Shalimar Srinagar. Views are their own, [email protected], [email protected])

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