Beeswax is used for cosmetic and therapeutic purposes in Ayurveda. It is called Madhuchista and used for external application. Herbal creams and oils are mainly prepared from it. It is a product from the secretion of the gland of the bee.
Madhuchista – Uchista means waste product or “leftover”. Madhu is honey. The waste product that remains after honey extraction is called Madhuchishta.
Other synonyms are –
Bee wax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. It is produced by young bees of 2-3 weeks old for the purpose of building combs which are used to store honey and bee eggs. The new wax is initially glass-clear and colorless, becoming opaque after mastication and adulteration with pollen by the hive worker bees. Also, the wax becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis.
Composition of beeswax:
The main raw materials for wax formation are carbohydrates, i.e. the honey sugars fructose, glucose and sucrose. Its main components are palmitate, palmitoleate, and oleate esters of long-chain (30–32 carbons) aliphatic alcohols, with the ratio of triacontanyl palmitae CH3(CH2)29O-CO-(CH2)14CH3 to cerotic acid] CH3(CH2)24COOH, the two principal components, being 6:1.
Hydroxy monoesters 4%
Hydroxy polyesters 8%
Acid esters 1%
Acid polyesters 2%
Free fatty acids 12%
Free fatty alcohols 1%
Melting point and Specific gravity:
Bee wax has a low melting point of 62-65oC and if the heating is continued beyond 85oC discoloration of the liquid wax occurs. The specific gravity at 15 °C is from 0.958 to 0.975,that of melted wax at 98 to 99 °C compared with water at 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) is 0.822.
Types of honey bee wax:
The three main types of beeswax products are yellow, white, and beeswax absolute. Yellow beeswax is the crude product obtained from the honeycomb, white beeswax is bleached or filtered yellow beeswax, and beeswax absolute is yellow beeswax treated with alcohol.
Uses of Madhuchista:
- Madhuchista is used as a base to prepare both ayurvedic and some allopathic ointments.
- Madhuchista is mixed with honey and applied over wound and burns for quicker healing.
- Bee wax is mixed with sesame oil and fresh juice of “Kushtagna gana dravyas” (as per Charaka) and applied over area affected with skin diseases as part of treatment.
- Bee wax is used as base in cosmetic creams, lip balm, eye liner and moisturizers.
- In food industry, bee wax is used as food additive (E 901) in soft gelatin capsules, chewing gums, as protective coating for some fruits, coating for cheese etc.
- It is used as an ingredient in the treatment of fractures i.e. bones setting.
- Used for candle manufacturing.
- Used as dental dye in ancient years.
- Important ingredient in shoe polish.
- Ingredient in surgical bone wax to control bleeding during surgery.
- Ingredient in wax seal.
- To strengthen and to forestall splitting and cracking of wind instrument reeds
- For wax tablets used for a variety of writing purposes
- To strengthen and preserve sewing thread, cordage, shoe laces, etc.
- As a component of sealing wax
Research article related to Madhuchista:
Anti- microbial activity: The few studies showed an anti- microbic effectiveness of beeswax against overall Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger; these inhibitory effects are enhanced synergistically with other natural products such as honey or olive oil.
Ayurvedic medicines and remedies using Madhuchista:
Few important ayurvedic medicine containing madhuchista are
Sikta taila – 1 part of beeswax is added with 6 parts of sesame oil. Heated till the wax melts completely. Then filtered. – This is used as base to prepare many Ayurvedic ointments. Many herbal powders are added to it to prepare ointments and creams.
Sikta taila alone is used for healing cracked heels.
Honey is a well known wound healing antiseptic substance. So, beeswax also carries the same properties. Hence, along with sesame oil, it forms a perfect base for skincare ointments such as Gandakadya malahara.
Malahara kalpana: Ayurvedic Ointment Preparation
Other medicines prepared by bees wax:
Pinda taila – Pinda Thailam is an Ayurvedic oil, used to relieve pain especially due to gout arthritis. It is used for external application only.
Vranaropana Taila – It is an Ayurvedic oil, used in wound healing. This medicine is formulated based on Kerala Ayurveda principles. Vrana means wound and Ropana means wound healing.
Panchgun Tail – It is an herbal oil, used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, ear ache, non healing wounds, etc.