Honey: facts you didn’t know
A storehouse of nutrients, there are plenty of misconceptions around honey, making it difficult to make the right choices while selecting the authentic one. Jamuna Rangachari clarifies certain myths prevalent around honey and guides us on how to make informed choices while picking it for its numerous health benefits.
Recently when I took ill with the Omicron virus, I intuitively drank a lot of warm honey water to soothe my sore throat and build my immunity. Needless to say, the effect was instant and positive. Otherwise, too, I have been mixing honey in my salad dressing, and the result has been fantastic. Never has my salad tasted so good. Now I have made it a habit to drink lemon water mixed with honey every morning as it aids in weight loss,” says Suman Prabhakar, a therapist and healer based in Bangalore.
When I was a young child, I used to often fall and get hurt in the nearby park. I would howl and howl till somebody hugged me and gave me a spoonful of honey. I would immediately become quiet and then go back to playing. Whether this was psychological or scientific, I do not know, but honey is always a part of my kitchen as part of our natural first aid because of this memory. My husband too believes in its powers, and the first thing we have in the morning is warm water with honey and lime. When my children asked us the reason for this habit, I started reading about honey and found its many proven benefits.
Honey has been used in multiple ways for a long time and has a variety of health benefits and medical uses apart from being highly nutritive. It’s even used in hospitals as a treatment for wounds. Many of these benefits are found only with raw or natural honey.
Benefits of honey
• Has many antioxidants: Natural honey contains an array of plant chemicals which are antioxidants. They help us protect our body from cell damage due to free radicals that cause ageing and some diseases.
• Is antibacterial and antifungal: Honey has the power to kill unwanted bacteria and fungi as it contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic.
• Heals wounds: It is often used to treat wounds as it is an effective germ killer and also aids in tissue regeneration.
• Is a powerhouse of phytonutrients: These are compounds that help protect the plant from harm. Phytonutrients found in honey are responsible for its antioxidant properties as well as its antibacterial and antifungal power. This is the reason raw honey has shown immune-boosting and anticancer benefits, as per researchers.
• Helps in digestive issues: Honey has proven to be effective as a treatment for a particular bacteria known to be a common cause of stomach ulcers. It is a good probiotic which nourishes good bacteria in the gut that are crucial not only for digestion but also for overall health.
• Heals sore throats: Honey is an old sore throat remedy that is usually used with tea and lime water.
Colours and flavours of honey
Since honey is mixed with artificial products often nowadays, we are highlighting how to recognise good honey and use it effectively.
Honey comes in many colours, flavours, and fragrances each having their own advantages in health and nutrition. However in the masses a myth is prevalent that real honey is dark reddish-brown in colour, maintains its texture throughout the seasons and does not crystallise overtime. This makes people often discard raw honey and pay more to purchase adulterated honey, which tastes and looks the same throughout the year. Essentially, honey could be raw or processed. Even in natural or raw honey, there are several varieties, depending on its composition, source, colour, processing methods, and therapeutic applications. The percentage of fructose and glucose, and the amount and type of amino acids and organic acids vary by floral source, which, in turn, determine the flavour and colour of the honey. For example, honey collected from mustard flowers would be light in colour, almost white or light yellow, whereas those collected from neem (margosa) or jamun (black plum) blooms would be mostly dark in colour.
Lastly it is natural for raw honey to get crystallised with time. This does not alter its quality, other than its colour or texture. Essentially it is a hallmark of the honey being pure.
The following varieties of honey are indigenous to India:
• Eucalyptus honey: Usually dark in colour, eucalyptus honey is 100 per cent natural, unprocessed floral honey. It is rich in antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant properties, and provides relief in respiratory tract infections.
• Ajwain honey: Ajwain honey is made out of nectar collected from ajwain (carom seeds) and looks chocolate brown. It reduces acidity, acid reflux, and indigestion; helps lower the risk of heart disease; boosts the immune system; and promotes overall good health
• Lychee honey: Plucked from the lychee tree flowers, lychee honey is sweet and mostly carries a golden yellow hue. It plays an important role as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial agent; lowers blood pressure; optimises metabolism; is excellent for growing kids and ladies;
boosts weight loss; and strengthens bones.
• Sunflower honey: Made out of the nectar of sunflowers, it has a bright lemon-yellow colour. It plays an important role as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial agent; is good for stomach-intestine conditions and lung and kidney diseases; and is also beneficial for the heart and blood vessels, especially for those who have poor circulation in the hands and feet.
• Neem Jamun honey: Almost black, the iron content in this honey purifies blood, thereby keeping our skin healthy. It is effective in treating digestive disorders; is rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamin C; increases one’s haemoglobin count; and cures spongy gums and bad breath.
• Kikar honey: The colour of Kikar (acacia) honey can vary from white, yellow, and orange, to toffee. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, is rich in antioxidants and antibiotic content, and benefits children as it helps in enhancing memory.
• Tulsi honey: It is cultivated from the queen of herbs, tulsi (holy basil). The rich appeal and the dark colour of the honey symbolise its purity and rawness. Tulsi honey helps reduce stress and anxiety; cures cold and cough; has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties; and is rich in antioxidants.
Generally, the darker coloured ones are sweeter, while the lighter coloured ones are mild. Essentially, all natural honey is good for health.
The modern beehive experts
There are many who have recognised the strength of pure natural honey and we introduce them to you.
Ramya Sundaram from Bangalore and Mithun Stephen from Chennai were on a trek in Dandeli, Karnataka, when they met a honey-gathering tribe. They tasted honey from the forest for the first time and realised that real honey is very different from supermarket honey. They launched a company, honeyandspice.in, in the year 2015, recognising a shortage of real honey in the market, which is unblended, unprocessed, and raw. Now they sell more than 15 varieties of authentic unprocessed honey to customers across India.
“Our initial investments came from our family and friends like all small businesses. Further, a lot of support came from beekeepers and tribal partners who gave us the right knowledge about real honey. Most importantly, our customers have been supporting us from the beginning,” says Ramya.
Khan Sagir Ahmed Khan and his partner Zahur Ahmed from Ahmedabad wished to provide completely natural honey to all. They realised that as honey is a substance which does not get spoiled, because no microbes can grow in it due to its chemical composition, it does not require any processing or alteration. They formed a company, Bee Natural, which brings only unprocessed honey made by the bees in the beehives to their customers. They sell different flavours, ensuring that all are totally natural.
In Dehradun, Shubhendu and his partners at Uttaransh found out that according to WHO, honey, oils, and dairy products are amongst the most adulterated of all food items in the world. And thus, they found their vocation. Today, under their umbrella, they offer eight variants of raw monofloral honey and cold-pressed oils (using a wooden pestle and mortar setup, just like in the olden days). Their first breakthrough happened when Mr Vir Singh, the current founder of Vana Retreat, an exotic space tucked in the lush green side of Dehradun, allowed them to set up bee colonies in his Vana premises, as part of their campaign, The Bee In Well Being.
Shubhendu says that since, in today’s world, sellers mostly focus on margins, we need to take care of good quality ourselves and make informed purchases. Among many examples, he remembers a woman from Hyderabad who was staying at a homestay in Mussoorie. She had cancer and was undergoing ayurvedic treatment. Luckily, the cook at the homestay was using Uttaransh cold-pressed oil. That woman reached out to them via Instagram and ordered both the oil and honey from them. She has her medicines with their honey and is said to be feeling much better than before. The company has alliances in all A-tier towns and wishes to ensure that people get the benefits of pure honey.
It is always nice if something good for health is also tasty. This is certainly true for honey. Further, in discussions on real and fake products, I believe food takes priority, and we would certainly benefit by ensuring that the food we ingest is authentic. We keep looking for various kinds of superfoods nowadays. Here, honey, a natural superfood is something we could easily include both in our kitchen and first-aid kit.
Tests for pure honey
• Water Test: In a glass of water, put a spoonful of honey. If the honey dissolves in water, then it’s fake. Natural honey would settle at the bottom of a cup or a glass.
• Vinegar Test: Vinegar can also be used to check this. Mix a few drops of honey into vinegar water to see how it reacts. Pure honey will blend. If the mixture starts to foam, then the honey is fake.
• The Heat Test: Adulterated honey remains unburned. Dip a matchstick in honey and light it. If it does not light up or takes longer to catch the flame, then the honey is not pure.
• Natural test: We can spot the difference naturally too. Pure honey has a unique aroma, and raw honey, when consumed, leaves a tingling feeling in our throat. Further, we must know natural honey is never uniform in all respects like artificial branded honey is made to be.
Life Positive follows a stringent review publishing mechanism. Every review received undergoes -
Only after we're satisfied about the authenticity of a review is it allowed to go live on our website
Our award winning customer care team is available from 9 a.m to 9 p.m everyday
All our healers and therapists undergo training and/or certification from authorized bodies before becoming professionals. They have a minimum professional experience of one year
All our healers and therapists are genuinely passionate about doing service. They do their very best to help seekers (patients) live better lives.
All payments made to our healers are secure up to the point wherein if any session is paid for, it will be honoured dutifully and delivered promptly
Every seekers (patients) details will always remain 100% confidential and will never be disclosed