The Blog of Minnesota Community Acupuncture

Honey as a Natural Medicine and Perfect Preservative

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Honey has been used in Chinese medicine as an herb, a food, and a preservative for thousands of years. In Chinese medicine, honey is known as Feng Mi.  Energetically it has a sweet flavor and a neutral temperature; it benefits the Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen, and Stomach meridians.  As a medicine it is primarily used to strengthen the spleen and stomach, tonify Qi, and prevent dryness.  Taking into account its moistening function, poached pears in a honey sauce make a fine medicinal dessert in the fall to help counteract the seasonal dryness that prevails that time of year.

Realizing the perfect preservative nature of honey, ancient Chinese doctors realized it could be used as a delivery system for other more delicate medicinals.  One of the oldest forms of herbal preparation is that of the honey pill.  First honey is heated to be extremely liquid.  Once the honey is flowing like water you add the medicinal powder to it in the proper ratio.  The honey/herbal mix is then poured onto a non-stick surface (these days we use wax paper) in lines.  As the honey begins to cool and become more viscous, the doctor would roll it between his palms until it became the size of a pea.  This is one of the original forms of pill!

The Chinese weren’t the only culture to realize the benefits of honey.   Modern archeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artifacts: pots of honey, thousands of years old, and yet still preserved. Through millennia, the archeologists discover, the food remains unspoiled, an unmistakable testament to the eternal shelf-life of honey.

There are a few other natural foods that won’t spoil in their raw state; things like sugar, dried rice, and salt for instance.  However, honey is unique in that it remains preserved in a purely edible form.  You don’t have to prepare a thousand year old jar of honey to eat it; you could pour it straight onto your toast if you’d like.

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