Never take honey hot

They say money is brighter than sunshine and sweeter than honey. That’s not true; nothing is brighter than the sun and nothing is sweeter than honey, not even money. Honey is what you would call a superfood, but only if it’s in its raw unprocessed form. Honey is mostly simple sugars and water, yet it contains significant healing properties. It’s rich in antioxidants and has impressive levels of Vitamins C, D, E, K and B complex. It helps heal burns and skin conditions when applied, and ulcers when ingested. Honey, when taken properly, results in a glowing radiant skin, like honey in the sunlight.

Walk into any eatery in the city and ask for dawa, and they’ll hook you up. This so called medicine is a simple mix of ginger boiled in hot water, fresh squeezed lemon and a tablespoon or so of honey. All natural ingredients and good for when you have a cold, right? Not really.

Honey, when heated in any way, even adding to warm water, quickly inverts its healing properties. Heating it to 40 degrees Celsius deteriorates its quality and destroys the nutrients. The molecules, even though broken up by the heat, tend to adhere to mucus membranes like glue, and become toxic. This causes respiratory diseases, blood glucose imbalance and skin problems. Processed honey is already heated to some degree, and using it with hot water or heating it in any way causes it to become, ironically, toxic.

Traditional beekeepers would place hives around specific flowers to flavour the honey and give it certain healing properties. So, honey is best in its raw state. It’s considered a hot food in its natural state, which means it burns out faster, giving a natural boost in energy without the calories. Once heated, however, it becomes gluey and counterproductive.

For dawa, I boil about an inch of grated ginger in a cup of water, then add one squeezed lemon and wait for it to cool down to room temperature before adding the honey. Because ginger and lemon are also hot foods, the drink will be cool to the taste and still heating and healing to the body. If at a restaurant, the best would be to take the hot but bitter lemon and ginger first to burn out the mucus, then lick the cool honey. Don’t put it in a cake to bake or on meat to grill. The point is, never heat honey.

ñ Sivananda Caitanya Dasa

The author is a Vedic dietician

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