Honey is sweet, and leaves an astringent after-taste. It is parchifying, cold, stomachic, cosmetic, tonic, light, softening, palatable, liquefacient (Lekhanan), and fermenting (Sandhanam). It acts as a purifying and healing agent in respect of ulcers and eyes, is aphrodisiac, astringent, and tends to permeate all the minutest channels and capillaries of the organism. It is antifat and pacifies the deranged Pittam and Kapham, and proves curative in hiccough, Meha, dyspnoea, cough, dysentery, vomiting and thirst. It is a vermifuge, antitoxic and demulcent, and influences the subduing of the three deranged humours. Owing to its lightness it subdues the deranged Kapham, and proves a good antidote to the deranged Vayu and Pittam owing to its sliminess, sweetness and astringent taste.
Eight different kinds of honey are commonly used such as, the Pauttikam, Bhramaram, Kshaudram, Makshikam, Chhatram, Arghyam, Auddalakam and Dalam. * Of these the honey obtained from the hives of bees, known as the Puttikas, is hot and parchifying owing to their habit of sucking the juice or sap of flowers and plants without eliminating therefrom other foreign or poisonous matter, that might have become naturally or accidentally mixed with it. This kind of honey is intoxicating and acid in its re-action, and tends to aggravate the Vayu, blood and Pittam. It acts as a liquefacient or dis-cutient agent. Honey, known as the Bhramaram, is extremely heavy owing to its extremely sweet taste and slimy character, while the one known as the Kshaudram is extremely cool, light and liquefacient. Honey known as the Makshikam is lighter, dryer and more efficacious than the honey of the preceding class (Kshaudram), and proves specially beneficial in cases of dyspnoea, etc. Honey, known as the Chhatram, is sweet in digestion, heavy, cooling and slimy. It acts as a vermifuge, proves curative in haemoptysis, psoriasis and Meha, and is possessed of a high efficacy. Honey known as the Arghyam is possessed of properties highly beneficial to the eye. It is a greater subduer of Pittam and Kapham than any other kind of honey, is astringent in taste, and pungent in digestion. It is a bitter tonic and does not generate Vayu in the system. Honey known as the Auddalakam improves the voice and relish for food. It is antitoxic, and proves curative in cutaneous affections. It is heat-making in its potency, and acid and astringent in taste. It generates Pittam, and is pungent in digestion. Honey, known as the Dalam, is parchifying and proves beneficial in cases of vomiting and Meha. Fresh honey is constructive and aphrodisiac, acts as a mild laxative, and to a small extent subdues the deranged Kapham. Old honey is astringent and liquefacient, and reduces fat and obesity. Honey, that has attained a thickened or condensed state in course of time (Pakka Madhu), tends to subdue the three deranged humours, while thin and unmatured honey (Ama Madhu) is possessed of contrary properties, and tends to agitate the three fundamental humours of the body. In conjunction with many other drugs and medicinal remedies, honey proves curative in various diseases, and partakes of the virtues of the drugs or substances with which it is so used (Yoga-Vahika).
* (1) The kind of honey obtained from hives of large, yellow bees, is called the Pauttikam.
(2) The kind of honey obtained from hives of bees of the Bhramara species is called Bhramaram.
(3) The kind of honey obtained from hives of small, tawny brown bees is called the Kshaudram.
(4) The kind of honey obtained from the hives of large, brown bees of the Makshika species is called Makshikam,
(5) The kind of honey obtained from the umbrella shaped hives of bees of the Chhalra species is called Chhatram.
(6) The honey obtained from the hives of thin-mouthed bees of the Argha species often found in ant-hills is called Arghyam.
(7) The kind of honey obtained from the hives of small brown bees of the Uddalakam species is called Auddalakam.
(8) The kind of honey found accumulated in leaves of honey-bearing plants is called Dalam.
Honey is not collected from the flowers of any particular species. On the other hand, the honey-making bees cull it from the sap and juice of flowers and plants, which are incompatible with one another in respect of their nature, taste, virtue, potency and re-actionary (chemical) effect. For these reasons, and further from the fact of it being prepared by poisonous bees, honey becomes positively injurious after contact with heat or fire, and accordingly the use of hot or boiled honey is forbidden.
On account of its poisonous contact in its origin honey exerts a similar injurious virtue. Used in a boiling or heated state, or in a hot country, or during the hot season of the year, or in a heated state of the body, honey is sure to prove fatal like poison. Honey is specially made injurious by hot contact owing to its placidity and coolness, and further for the reason of its being collected from the sap of a variety of flowers and plants. Atmospheric water (rain-water), like heat, serves to impart an injurious character to all kinds of honey (except the one known as the Arghyam Madhu).
For emetic purposes honey may be administered with any other hot substance, inasmuch as it is intended in such a case that the imbibed honey, instead of being retained or digested in the stomach, should be ejected immediately after its use. *
Undigested honey is more painful, or gives rise to a greater discomfort than all other undigested substances in the stomach, more so because internal fermentation and use of hot water, which are usually resorted to in a case of deranged digestion, can not be used in a case of undigested honey retained in the stomach, owing to the poisonous nature of the chemical change (Vipaka) it undergoes therein in contact with hot substances in general. Hence, undigested honey is as fatal as any poison.