Use of Honey in Ancient India

Honey during the ancient time in India was revered as the food of gods. It was also a divine sweetener and food on many spiritual occasions.

Honey in ancient India

In ancient hindu marriages honey was used to keep away any evil spirit and a happy life for married couples.

Whereas, Hindus from Deccan part of India used curd and honey. The newlywed bridegroom ate this before he visited his future wife home for the first time.

Hindu gods – Krishna and Vishnu are called madhave meaning the “nectar born ones”.

Also, the Indian god of love – Kama had a connection with bees. So, just like Greek gods, he carries a bow made by a chain of bees, depicting that the arrows of gods are sweet but also painful when stung.

Archaeological evidence

Archaeological evidence dates back to ancient India reveals how the rock painting found in Mahadeo hills depicts honey collection from the nest of wild bees.

A renown Indian archaeologist Yashodhar Mathpal has discovered various painting in the rock caves in Bhimbetka, 20km south of Bhopal. It shows the evidence of hunting of rock bee colonies for honey.

According to him, the painting belongs to mesolithic or earlier period between 15000 – 11000 B.C.E along with the activities of the stone-age humans. This painting depicts the crude honey drawn from semicircular combs sometimes covered by bees.

Who prepared the first ancient hive?

The Rbhus made the first hive with reeds and straw. To make it natural, they took the honey section from a natural honey colony. It was then fixed with the hive.

In the time of spring, the large swarm of bees came and settled in it. Meanwhile, Rbhus took care of this for complete one year. They removed it when it was full of honey. The sages of the Vedic period welcomed the invention of this innovative way of honey collection.

Honey in Ayurveda

Honey in ancient India had an important place and usage in Ayurveda. The usage of honey as food and medicine in Ayurveda is greatly recognized. In Ayurvedic language, Honey is called ‘Madhu’.

Ayurveda stands for complete knowledge for a healthy life. In Vedic literature honey colony referred to as “frail Cow”, and it’s comb as “Skin of vegetable origin”.

Usage of Honey in Ayurveda:

  1. Honey is quite useful for both internal and external applications in Ayurveda. The primary treatment is for cough, eye disease, blood in vomit, leprosy, diabetes, obesity, worm infestation, vomiting, asthma, diarrhoea and healing wounds.
  2. Honey as a natural preservative.
  3. Used as a sweetener in various preparations.
  4. Honey is very effective in enhancing medicines and reducing the side effects. There are 634 Ayurvedic remedies that contain honey.
  5. Honey reduces Kapha dosha an Ayurvedic category of body constitutions with a robust frame.

Types of Honey used in Ayurvedic medicine in ancient India

Makshikam (Makshika) Honey:

This type of honey is very light and dry made by bluish honey bees. Therefore, It is usable for the treatment of jaundice, haemorrhoids, coughs, tuberculosis and eye disease.

Bhraamaram (Bhramara) Honey:

This honey is very sticky and made by small bees. The treatment using this honey is effective for digestive problems, urinary tract disorders and when blood vomiting occurs.

Kshoudram (Kshoudra) Honey:

Ayurvedic practitioners consider this to be light and cold in nature made by medium-sized brown bees. It helps dissolve Kapha dosha which regulates the structure state of the body.

Pauthikam (Pouttika) Honey:

Honey collected by small bees that live in old trees. In Ayurveda, this increases Vata dosha – a type of energy that governs all movements. It is very effective for diabetes, urinary infections and against tumours.

Chathram (Chatra) Honey:

It is the honey collection from the Himalayan forest by yellow and brown honey bees. It is quite nourishing to take regularly and good for diabetes and indigestion.

Aardhyam (Arghya) Honey:

This type of honey in Ayurveda is effective for eye diseases, cough and anaemia.

Ouddalakam (Oudalaka) Honey:

Small brown honey bees which lives in anthills make such type of honey. It is effective in treating throat to improve voice modulation and treating leprosy.

Daalam (Dala) Honey:

This type of honey in Ayurveda is beneficial for the digestive system, enhances digestion, reduces vomiting bouts and good treatment for cough and diabetes.

Honey in ancient China

In ancient China, the first time when honey became popular for the medicinal purpose was during the Xin dynasty of Shen Nang around 2000 B.C.E.

Most importantly, a book which had released during Qin dynasty around 220 B.C.E encourages the use of honey on a daily basis to keep one fit and healthy.

It also reads that honey was an excellent cure for indigestion and it proves its effectiveness with other ingredients as a medication.

Li Shizen, the Ming dynasty physician observed five very important benefits of honey, for relaxation, detoxification, pain reduction, stomach ulcers, anxiety and insomnia.

To this day, honey is an integral part of traditional Chinese healing. Most importantly, Chinese doctors still recommend the usage of honey alone or with the combination of other ingredients for various health problems.

In addition, honey plays a very important role when added with boiling water or used with Chinese angelica root, hemp seed or other herbs to provide constipation relief.


The ancient period of India and China stand testimony to the usage of Raw Honey in their traditional medicines. As it is a super historical sweetener and food for good health.


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