In the spirit of International Honey Day this Saturday I wanted to talk about the history of honey and how it plays into Chinese culture.
Talking about bees and honey in history must always include Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. But starting from the very beginning of times, we must say that bees are actually one of the oldest forms of animal life, since Neolithic Age, preceding humans on Earth by 10 to 20 million years. When they appeared, humans did whatever the other animals were doing at the time, meaning, stole the bees’ honey to feed themselves. Homo Sapiens and honey were together since the Stone Age.
As the centuries went on honey was considered an important medicinal remedy as shown in their writings dating from about 2000 BC. As with India, honey also occupied an important place in Chinese culture, another great eastern civilization. Honey is mentioned in the Shi Jing, or Classic of Poetry, an important book of Chinese theology written in the 6th century BCE. According to Ancient Chinese medicine, honey is a major component to earth, one of the five basic elements, and acts on the stomach and spleen meridians of the human body.
According to Chinese medicine, honey has a balanced character (neither Yin nor Yang) and acts according to the principles of the Earth element, entering the lung, spleen and large intestine channels. (as mentioned by earlier writings). During the Xin Dynasty, around 220BC, a book of Chinese medicine says: “Those who often take honey can keep fit, honey can cure indigestion, it can be used in medicaments to bind other ingredients together.”
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