India is huge, in fact, it is so big that it encompasses a variety of ecosystems and ecological niches. That translates to a great biodiversity. Nothing is more indicative of this biodiversity than the variety of medicinal herbs used in the treatment of diseases by the indigenous peoples of India. And even more by the number of bee species that exist in the area.
- Apis cerana indica (Asian bee)
- Apis dorsata
- Apis dorsata laboriosa (Known for producing an intoxicating honey)
- Apis mellifera
- Apis florea (Small red bee)
- Tetragonula irridipennis (Small stingless bee that is used by small homesteads)
Actually there are more stingless bee species in India but little is known about their economic importance.
Biodiversity in practice
In the bibliography, eight different kinds of honey are mentioned, with an equal number of medicinal uses.
- Pouttikam. This is the honey that is collected from the nectar of poisonous flowers, by very large black honey bees called Pauttika
- Bhramaram. This honey is collected by large honey bees and it is sticky in nature.
- Kshaoudram. Honey that is collected by brown bees of moderate size. It is yellowish brown colored, light and cold in nature. It disolves Kapha and it is used in the treatment of diabetes.
- Makshikam. This honey is collected by small red colored honey bees. It is very light and dry natured. Although there is no specific bibliography it is probable that “red variety of bees” refers to Apis florea. It is indicated for Kapha diseases and also VataKapha diseases. Used in the treatment of eye conditions, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough and tuberculosis. This type of honey is of the color of Tila Taila (sesame oil).
- Chatram. The honey collected by bees of the Himalyan region. Probably the honey of Apis dorsata or Apis dorsata laboriosa that is the largest bee in the world.
- Arghyam. It is good for the eyes and the treatment of cough and anemia, it is claimed to cause arthritis.
- Oudalakam. It is used for skin diseases and leprosy. It is also useful as a detoxification agent and helps in the modulation of the voice.
- Dalam. It is dry and reduces vomiting. It improves digestion and is used for diabetes
For Indians and especially for Buddhists is one of the five foods of immortality. It also signifies ressurection.
If used on its own as a medicine it possesses some healing properties.
Honey is an appetizer and promotes digestion.
- It is very good for eyes and heart.
- It quenches thirst and stops hiccups.
- It dissolves or mitigates kapha.
- It is a natural detoxifying agent; the effects of the toxin are nullified.
- It is very useful for urinary tract disorders, worm infestations, bronchial asthma, cough, diarrhea and nausea, vomiting.
- It cleanses and promotes wound healing by facilitating the formation of granulation tissue.
- Honey that is newly collected from the beehive increases body weight and is a mild laxative.
- Honey that is stored and is old helps in fat metabolism and is indicated in obesity and scrapes kapha and adipose tissue (medas).
- It promotes nourishment and stimulates union of tissues.
- It acts as a sedative or hypnotic and is useful in bed wetting disease.
- Honey, being a very good antioxidant, restores the damaged skin and gives soft, young looks.
Honey is called a “Yogahavi ” which means it strengthens and enhances all other herbs and processes in the body. It is believed that it has the property of penetrating deep in the tissues and reaching the cells through porous channels.
- Honey in Traditional and Modern Medicine.
- Laid Boukraa https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3611628/
- Shusruta translation
- Beekeeping in India