This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Mel Pharm. Lond. Honey: a sweet vegetable juice: collected by the bee from the flowers of different plants, and deposited in the cells of the combs; from which it is extracted, either by spontaneous percolation through a sieve in a warm place, or by expression. That which runs spontaneously is purer than the ex-pressed; a quantity of the waxy and other impurities being forced out along with it by the pressure, especially when the combs are previ-ously heated. The best sort of honey is of a thick consistence, a whitish colour, an agreeable smell, and a very pleasant taste: both the colour and flavour are said to differ in some degree according to the plants which the bees collect it from.
Honey, exposed to a gentle heat, as that of a water bath becomes thin, and throws up to the surface its waxy impurities, together with the meal or flower sometimes fraudulently mingled with it, which may thus be separated by despumation, so as to leave the honey pure. On continuing the heat, there rises a considerable quantity of aqueous fluid, impregnated with the fine smell of the honey: the infpiffated residuum, like the honey at first, dissolves both in water and in rectified spirit, and promotes the union of oily and resinous substances with watery liquors. By treating the infpiffated mass with moist clay, as practised by the sugar-bakers for purifying sugar from its unctuous treacly matter, the unctuous parts of honey may in like manner be separated, and its pure sweet matter obtained in the form of a solid, saline, white concrete.
This juice is an useful sweet, for medicinal as well as domestic purposes; more aperient and detergent than the Ampler sweet prepared from the sugar cane; particularly serviceable for promoting expectoration in disorders of the breast, and as an ingredient in cooling and detergent gargarisms. For these, and other similar intentions, it is sometimes mixed with vinegar, in the proportion of about two pounds to a pint, and the mixture boiled down to the consistence of a syrup; sometimes impregnated with the virtues of different vegetables, by boiling it in like manner with their juices or infusions, till the watery parts of the juice or infusion have exhaled and left the active matter incorporated with the honey. It excellently covers the taste of purging salts and waters. The boiling of honey, though it dissipates great part of its odorous matter, and thus proves in some cases injurious to it, is in some cases also of advantage: there are particular, constitutions with which honey remarkably disagrees, and in which even very small quantities occasion gripes, purging, and great disorder: by boiling, it loses of that quality by which it produces these effects.
Oxymel simplex Ph. Lond.
* The Edinburgh college seem at present of opinion that honey has no qualities which render it in any case preferable to sugar; since they have entirely expunged it, and all preparations in which it entered, from their last pharmacopoeia(a).