Application of Honey (Feng Mi) TuiNa in the Treatment of Cough and Wheezing

HONEY MASSAGE, mm-mm-mm it sounds so delicious.  You probably imagine a luxurious SPA pampering, but in reality it is far from simple pleasure. Honey TuiNa is another wonderful tool to help your most difficult patients with lowered immune function suffering from hard to treat chronic non-specific or antibiotic resistant respiratory diseases.  The history of the use of honey parallels the history of man. In virtually every culture evidences can be found of its use as a food source and as a symbol employed in religious, magical, and therapeutic ceremonies.   The ancient Egyptians used honey as an embalming material. Hippocrates cured skin disorders with honey. The philosopher Democritus, who lived to the ripe old age of 110 years, used to say that for health preservation “viscera should be moistened by honey and skin by oil”. Avicenna said: “if you want to preserve health – you must use honey”.  The Romans used it in cosmetic preparations.  Chinese Medicine has used honey (Feng Mi) for many millennia as an essential part of their Materia Medica with wide applications.

The history of honey is extremely rich in ancient Russia. In the 12th century a manuscript titled “About Honey” with hundreds of medicinal recipes was published by Duchess Evlampia, the grand-daughter of the famous Russian King Vladimir Monomah.  Until the early 20th century honey was considered an official medical remedy, and was actively prescribed by family physicians.  Even as recently as World War I, doctors treated wounds with honey. With the advent of antibiotics honey fell out of use for its healing properties, but scientific research is now rediscovering honey’s natural healing power. Definition: According to the Codex Alimentarius (1989): Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees (Apis Mellifera) from the nectar of blossoms or from the secretion of living parts of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which honeybees collect, transform, and combine with specific substances of their own, store and leave in the honey comb to ripen and mature.


Honey is a thick, viscous, syrupy, yellowish or yellow-brown fluid, clear when fresh, but losing its translucence with age and depositing crystals. It has an intensely sweet, feebly acrid taste, and a distinctive odor. There are more than 300 types of honey, varying in flavor and color (from pale yellow to dark amber), depending on the type of blossoms visited by the honeybee. Some of the most commonly produced types of honey in the United States are alfalfa, orange blossom, clover, buckwheat, and tupelo.


Principal Constituents: Laevulose (fruit sugar) 36%, dextrose (grape sugar or glucose) 32%, and sucrose (cane sugar) 2%, maltose (malt sugar) 8%, mineral salts 2%, hydrogen peroxide, phenolics, flavonoids, terpenes, vitamins, microelements, and anti-bacterial substances.  Properties: Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Honey works due to its sugar content, low protein composition, and by osmosis. Honey acts as a natural antibiotic that limits the growth of bacteria. Honey promotes tissue regeneration due to its high vitamin and microelement content.The value of honey differs by diastase number (quantity of enzymes per unit of volume). This allows measuring the effectiveness of biological activity of honey. The highest diastase number is found in honey manufactured at northern latitudes with harsh climates. For example: southern honey has a diastase number of 5 to 9, while northern honey has a diastase number of 30 to 50. In this diastase number range, northern honey is not just a food but a drug. The only type of honey shown to be effective in treatment is crude unprocessed honey. Properties of Feng Mi in Chinese medicine: sweet in flavor, neutral in nature, enters the Lung, Spleen and Large Intestine channels. Actions: strengthens middle-jiao, relieves spasm, alleviates pain, moistens Lung to arrest cough, moistening dryness and relaxing the bowel to relieve constipation. Indicated for gastric pain, consumptive diseases, lingering cough, dryness in the bowels and constipation, and for the elderly and those patients with weakened body resistance due to chronic diseases. According to “Compendium of Materia Medica,” by Li Shi Zhen, honey can help dispel pathogenic heat, clear away toxins, nourish yin and strengthen the spleen.


Contraindications: Allergies to bee products!!!  Open form of TB, lung cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, general high fever, fragile capillaries, hemorrhages, advance osteoporosis, and all contraindications that apply to circulatory massage. Indications of Honey TuiNa: To relieve cough, facilitate expectoration, moisten lung, clear toxins, reduce edema, and strengthen immune function in the treatment respiratory system diseases characterized by cough and wheezing.


Chinese Differential Diagnosis according to Zang Fu Syndromes:

a. Cough and wheezing with hard to expectorate mucus d/t Wind-Cold with internal Heat, Wind-Heat, Lung-Heat, Phlegm-Heat, Liver Qi Stagnation damaging the Lungs, Liver Fire invading Lung, Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency are treated with combination of Honey TuiNa and Inhalation.

b. Cough and wheezing with easy to expectorate profuse mucus d/t Wind-Cold with Phlegm Fluids, Phlegm-Damp, Lung and Spleen Yang Deficiency are treated with Honey TuiNa without Inhalation.

c. Cough and wheezing without mucus or with red blood expectoration d/t Warm-Dryness, Cool-Dryness, Lung Qi, and Blood Stasis are contraindicated for treatment with Honey TuiNa.  Technique of Honey TuiNa: due to breathing difficulties perform while patient is seated.

1st step – prepare inhalation using a steam inhaler, with a solution consisting of 1 table spoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in distilled or mineral water. Allow the patient to inhale the steam for 20 minutes.

2nd step – using Ca (rubbing) method massage abdominal, intercostals, SCM and scalene muscles and entire back with no lubricant for 3-4 minutes.

3rd step – warm up 1 table spoon of solid variety of honey in your palms, distribute on the patient’s back using palm An (pressing), follow with Pai (patting) and continue with palm Ji (beating), repeat the sequence with alternating rhythm on entire back focusing on lungs region.

4th step – wipe the residue from the back with a moist, hot towel.

5th step – cover patient with a blanket. Offer a cup of warm herbal tea appropriate to Chinese differential diagnosis with a teaspoon of honey. Let the patient rest for at least 10 minutes before letting them leave.

Because honey is extremely potent, honey TuiNa should not be administered more than five times every other day. A patient should perform inhalation at home every evening up to ten times.  Summary: Tested for millennia folk therapy shouldn’t be forgotten in our modern age of synthetic drugs and quick fix strategies. Recent research underlines the scientific basis for honey therapy utilizing its antibacterial properties working even for the most antibiotic resistant strains of microbes. Honey can be successfully used to treat many disorders and for enhancement of well-being.   Resources:  P.I. Filippov, V.P. Filippova, 2003, “Honey and other bee products in diet and medicine”

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