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The Superfood – 5 health benefits of honey

Jars of various kinds of honey - hoopoe on a hill

Honey has been on my kitchen shelf for as long as I can remember. When I was little, we
had jars of fresh honey stored next to pickles and jams. After playing with my friends in the
neighbourhood alleys, I often returned home like a warrior – with scraped knees and elbows.
On such days, my grandmother brought some cotton dipped in honey and dabbed it on my wounds.
Soon after, in spite of her forbidding threats, I was out and about, all over again.

Honey has been part of Indian homes for centuries. Apart from being an important
ingredient in traditional home remedies across the country, honey has been used in
Ayurvedic medicine for at least 4,000 years. It is considered to bring balance between the
body’s Doshas – Vaata (air), Pita (fire) and Kapha (water).

Here are five reasons why you should have honey on your kitchen shelf-

Energy Booster

Honey has been part of Indian homes for centuries. The glucose in honey is absorbed
by the body quickly making it a healthy addition to your daily diet.
Eating a spoonful of honey before or after a workout, when you are feeling weak or simply
as a snack between meals will help you revitalize yourself.

Wound Healer

Honey has been traditionally used to treat wounds, burns and ulcers. Unlike modern
antiseptic creams, which tend to burn when applied, honey soothes the wound.
It helps to regenerate tissues and prevent scars. It maintains a moist wound environment
that also promotes healing. Its high viscosity helps to create a protective barrier to prevent

Immunity Booster

It is an excellent antioxidant and has antibacterial properties that help improve the digestive system, increase metabolism and boost immunity. Today, honey is considered a ‘superfood’.
Drinking a spoonful of honey and lemon juice with warm water each morning gives your
body a great start.

Cough Reliever

Honey is a natural and harm-free remedy for a persistent cough or a sore throat. Honey not
only soothes the throat but also kills certain bacteria which cause infection.
Professional singers commonly use honey to soothe their throats just before or
immediately after a performance. For all bathroom singers out there, honey is here to help
us too!

Sleep Inducer

Honey clears the palette. Mixed with warm water it can have a relaxing and calming effect
on the mind and body. To make it most effective, make sure the honey is pure and
raw. Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes not present in pasteurized or
refined honey.

Honey is nature’s way of telling you, ‘I’ve got your back’.

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The Paliyans

“O warrior chief of the Kodai hill with white flowering jasmine hedges!
O hunter with powerful bow and ferocious fleet-footed hunting dogs with which you destroy entire herds of deer…May you live free from disease!”

– The Golden Anthology of Ancient Tamil Literature, 111
In reference to the Paliyans of the Kodai Hills in Sangam Literature.


Peter.M.Gardner, an American anthropologist, was among the first people to conduct a more objective study on the Paliyans in the 1960‟s. He classified them as “hunter-gatherers”. According to Nurit Bird – David (1992) who conducted her study in the early 1970‟s amongst the Kattunayakans ,a hunter gatherer community in the Nilgiris, most modern hunter – gatherer communities around the world engage in hunting and gathering but also combine this with other sustenance strategies like wage work, occasional cultivation, trade of Minor Forest Produce among other things. This traditional way of life can also be seen amongst the Paliyans. Gardener mentions that they hunt game like deer, wild boar, monkey, squirrel and lizards, and catch fish and crabs in the small mountain rivers, and collect honey from several bee species (Gardner 2000: 33-61; Norström 2003: 20-26).

The Paliyans bottling wild honey
The Paliyans bottling wild honey

Apart from hunting and gathering for sustenance they have also traditionally collected forest produce like honey, fruits and berries for trade… Collection of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) for personal consumption as well as to trade has always been an integral part of the hunter gatherer survival strategy.



Collecting Dammer bee honey
Collecting Dammer bee honey

During the months of May, June and July, honey collection is a huge source of income. Honey is collected from 4 species of honey bees – Apis Honey is collected from 4 species of honey bees – Apis Dorsata (Giant rock bees), Apis Cerana (Asian Honey Bees) Apis Floria (Little honey bee) and Trigonna spp (Dammer or stingless bees). Although all 4 are collected, only the first two varieties are traded. Honey is sold locally to people from other nearby villages. It is also sold in bulk to people from Madurai, Chennai and Bangalore.

They are extremely knowledgeable about the forest and skilled in collecting honey from different species of bees. The Paliyans have been able to turn this knowledge into trade opportunities with outsiders by collecting non-timber forest produce and selling it to neighbouring caste villages or markets in the nearby plains.


An excerpt from  People of the Palani Hills, written by Nishita Vasanth, edited by Nishita Vasanth and Priyashri Mani for INTACH Kodaikanal Chapter, 2016.