Health From The Hive
- What Is The New Miracle Of Honey?
- Why Is Pollen A Perfect Food?
- What Is Propolis?
- Why Is Royal Jelly So Special?
Protect The Bees. Protect The Planet.
Save Your Self. Look Inside….
TOPIC: BEE PRODUCTS
A recent report from the United Nations Environmental Programme called for profound changes in how we manage the planet. Executive director Achim Steiner noted,
“Humans seem to believe that they can operate independent of nature through technological innovations.”
He went on to say,
“Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to 7 billion people.”
When we think of bees, most of us think of honey. For millennia, people have enjoyed honey’s sweetness and other benefits.
What is little known is that the hive is the source of three more health enhancing substances. These are pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.
In this issue, we discuss all four incredible bee products and how they can support your health. Also, we talk briefly about the worldwide mystery of the disappearing honey bees.
The Buzz About Honey
Honey is not just another sweetener. But, how many people know or would even guess that honey can balance blood sugar in individuals with diabetes?
This information was revealed to the world by Ron Fessenden, MD, MPH, and his colleague, Mike McInnes, in The Honey Revolution, Restoring the Health of Future Generations. We quote:
“Here are a few of the differences between honey and refined sugar (table sugar and high fructose corn syrup)…. Honey lowers blood glucose; lowers HbA1c levels1; lowers triglycerides and improves HDL; is less likely to cause weight gain than processed sugars; improves spatial memory and reduces anxiety; reduces heart disease markers (thromboxanes); improves sleep and fat burning physiology.”
It follows that honey enhances immune function. Also, honey is easier for the kidneys to process than any other sugar, and it has been used in the treatment of liver and kidney disorders.
Additional uses include respiratory and gastrointestinal problems (including sinusitis and ulcers), weak heart action, infectious diseases, colds, insomnia, poor circulation, nerves, bad complexion, wounds and burns, hay fever, and as a general tonic.2
One could think of honey as totally prana or life energy. Made by bees as food for bees, honey making begins when the bee sucks nectar from blossoms. It is stored in her honey sac where enzymes are added.
This is deposited into the comb (made of beeswax, incidentally), where hive temperatures hover at about 95o. The nectar is condensed from 40-80 percent water to 18-20 percent water.
At that point, it is considered “ripe”. The bees seal each honey cell with a wax capping. The industrious bees hasten the honey making process by flapping their wings, as fast as 11,000 times per second!
Not a complete food, honey is composed of 38 percent fructose, 31 percent glucose, and 10 percent other sugars, along with water, small amounts of vitamins and minerals, enzymes, antibiotics, essential oils, and acids.
Honey is one of those substances that, like sea water, cannot be duplicated by humans. In fact, bee products can only be produced by bees.
Honey is predigested and high in glucose, making it easier to absorb and assimilate. Another important property of glucose is its ability to restore oxygen to the body by replacing the lactic acid which builds up in fatigued muscle tissue. This in large part explains why honey has been a preferred energy source for athletes since the original Olympians.
Today, deep sea divers, mountain climbers, pilots, and others under physical stress take honey to overcome fatigue. It is also a superior sweetener for people who are weak or ill.
While vitamins in fresh foods begin to diminish in potency from the time the foods are gathered, in honey they maintain their original strength.
In addition, honey contains a spectrum of minerals, the percentages of which are similar to their concentration in human blood. The darker honeys contain more minerals and higher alkaline values. And, yes, honey is an alkaline food.
The organic acids contained in honey are similar to those of fruit. Through our body’s chemistry, these produce alkalinity in the system, a chemical reaction which increases the value of honey as a nutritive and therapeutic substance.
Honey is also a natural antiseptic, antibiotic, and antifungal. Honey is sterile and it will not support the growth of bacteria or mold.
This antifungal property was dramatically demonstrated when a vessel of honey discovered in a pyramid at Gizeh still retained its freshness after more than 3500 years.
It follows that honey can be stored without refrigeration and will keep for several thousand years at temperatures below 500.
With few exceptions, honey granulates at lower temperatures. It is easily liquified by setting it in a pan of water. Raw and unstrained honeys are closest to their natural state and most honey users prefer them.
For a treat, buy some comb honey and find out why Winnie-the-Pooh is such a confirmed honey lover.
Bees fly 3-5 miles from home to collect nectar. It takes 40,000 miles to produce one pound of honey – about two cups!
1 HbA1c is a lab test for people with diabetes that reveals average blood sugar (glucose) levels over the previous 3 months.
2 Wild honey is a potential source of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) spores. When the spores get into a baby’s intestines, they can grow and multiply producing a dangerous toxin resulting infant botulism, in a rare and serious GI condition.
Called “the world’s first health food,” pollen’s healing powers have been described in ancient writings.
Some think pollen may be the secret ambrosia eaten by the gods to insure eternal youth.
Pollen means pine flour in Latin and is the male sperm cells of flowering plants. Pollen is so physically indestructible that identifiable grains of the first pollen bearing plants are found in the earth’s geological strata.
Pollen contains nearly all the known nutrients: all 22 amino acids, 27 minerals, a full range of vitamins, and many enzymes. It is 35 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrate, and 5 percent fat.
The protein is more highly assimilible than eggs, and half an ounce can supply the MDR when no other protein source is used.
Over 50 years ago, pollen was found to be so perfectly balanced that when extended by roughage and water it is a complete survival food.
In his classic Bee Pollen, Miracle Food, Felix Murat reported that pollen has four principle effects on the system:
- regulates the action of intestinal functions, especially in cases of chronic constipation and diarrhea which has been resistant to antibiotic treatment.
- stimulates the rapid increase of blood hemoglobin in anemic children.
- stimulates more rapid increase of weight and energy with convalescing persons.
- brings a calm state without side effects.
Other health problems reportedly responsive to pollen include the decline of mental and physical powers, upper respiratory infection, menstrual problems (especially when combined with royal jelly), prostate problems, sleeplessness, circulatory disorders, chronic colitis, high blood pressure, the common cold, disturbances of the endocrine system, and some nervous disorders. Pollen is also good as a general tonic.
Since the 1970s, bee pollen has been widely used as a sports supplement. Its value was established internationally when a pollen product manufacturer in Sweden was accused of inappropriate marketing and taken to court.
The manufacturer had advertised “…increase your performance capacity by taking such-and-such pollen tablets.” At the trial, the manufacturer concluded that pollen preparations could be used to treat diseases, increase working capacity, diminish tiredness, and improve sports performance. This opinion was supported by statisticians and by the testimonies of scientists. The firm won the case and was given permission by the courts to continue with their advertising program.
Pollen supplements are most effective taken on an empty stomach. The effect is progressive with the greatest percentage of change occurring between twenty and thirty days.
Although competing athletes take large quantities of pollen daily, the average person is advised to follow the instructions on the label. A three month trial is recommended.
In studies with aging people pollen brought heightened morale, a sense of spiritual well-being, and actual physical health.
The healing properties of propolis have been known for some 2,000 years. Hippocrates used a propolis salve to treat wounds, and the Greeks, as a treatment for stomach ulcers.
Far more recently, European scientists have investigated it, discovering that it is both an antibiotic and an antiviral substance. In addition, it enhances immunity.
Propolis is made by honey bees from the resinous juice and sap of trees and tree buds. (These substances are used by the trees themselves to fight infection.)
Bees live at close quarters. A hive may contain 40-50,000 inhabitants. Propolis allows the hive to live healthily by protecting the bees against bacteria and disease.
Propolis (from the Greek meaning “before the city”) is put around the entrance of the hive and used as cement to fix the honeycombs and stop up cracks and crevices. The bees encase any foreign invaders in propolis and then wax to prevent contamination of the hive.
Propolis also seems to work well to protect humans. According to NIH’s Medline Plus, propolis is used for canker sores as well as for infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis), by viruses (including flu, H1N1 “swine” flu, and the common cold), by fungus, and by single-celled organisms called protozoans.
Propolis is also used for cancer of the nose and throat; and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems, including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease.
Propolis is also used for boosting the immune system and as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
As with the ancients, people still sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing. It is also used on genital herpes and cold sores.
Medline reports that some research suggests propolis might heal genital herpes lesions faster and more completely than the conventional treatment, 5% acyclovir ointment.
As a mouth rinse, it has been attributed with improving healing while reducing pain and inflammation after mouth surgery.
Commenting on the effectiveness of propolis, John Diamond, MD, past president of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, has stated,
“Of all the natural substances I have tested, the one that seems to be the most strengthening to the thymus, and hence life energy, is bee propolis…. Propolis activates the thymus gland and, therefore, the immune system.”
In The Healing Properties of Propolis, doctors A.I. Tichonov and D.P. Salvo affirm Dr. Diamond’s findings. For over 20 years, they used propolis in more than 70 different studies.
In addition, propolis contains a concentration of bioflavonoids 500 times that of oranges. It is thought that this potency may be responsible for the antibiotic activity of propolis.
A variety of studies have shown bioflavonoids to retard bacterial and viral infections as well as improve the absorption of vitamin C.
Propolis boosts your powers of resistance against such problems as viral infections, colds, flu, coughs, tonsillitis, and cystitis.
Royal jelly is a milky white glandular secretion made by nurse worker bees and fed to the queen bee.
For several days, all bee larvae are fed royal jelly. From the fourth day, only the queen candidates continue to receive the royal diet.
The queen eats this food throughout her life. She grows to a size nearly twice that of the workers, and lays from 2,000 to 2,400 eggs per day for the remainder of her long life.
That’s right. The queen lives four to five years as compared to the 40-50 day life span of the worker bee. It is this latter phenomenon that has made royal jelly (RJ) so fascinating to humans.
Recent research has revealed that RJ contains a special protein called royalactin that causes a modification of DNA, resulting in the development of the queen.
Studies have not specifically investigated the effects of royalactin on human health. Researchers use the entire royal jelly complex, which is rich in protein, loaded with B vitamins, particularly pantothenic acid, and many other nutrients, including acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter.
Until the discovery of this last component, the energy, mental alertness, and general feeling of well-being people experienced was attributed solely to RJ’s B vitamin content.
Royal jelly is the only known natural source for acetyl-choline. Generally, those who are looking for a brain booster take phosphatidyl choline, which becomes acetylcholine in the brain, spinal cord, and various areas of the nervous system where it regulates memory and transmits nerve messages.
According to the online Apitherapy Review, optimal levels of acetylcholine are associated with improved memory, fluidity of thought, and enhanced cognitive function. (http://apitherapy.blogspot.com – Search royal jelly.)
Over the last few years, researchers have looked at many applications of royal jelly to health using laboratory animals. One of these is Alzheimer’s disease.
A study in Advanced Biomedical Research (2012, 1:26) was designed to examine the effect of RJ on spatial learning and memory. Rats with induced AD that consumed RJ-containing food performed better than those not receiving the RJ food.
Among other studies with royal jelly, results have shown 1) more rapid recovery from oral inflammation of the mucous membranes (from chemo- or radiation therapy); 2) use of the lipids in RJ to inhibit cancer growth, modulate the immune system, calm menopausal symptoms, protect the skin, and reinforce nerve growth; 3) help protect cells from smoking damage; 4) cure seasonal allergies (unless you are allergic to bees); 5) lower blood lipids, and 6) boost semen production.
At one time, the cost of extraction made royal jelly available only to an elite few. However, producing royal jelly has become big business, particularly in Asia where China is currently the largest producer in the world.
Royal jelly supplements are mainly available as capsules of freeze dried product (maintains its potency). Other forms include blends of royal jelly and honey or royal jelly and ginseng. Take a look at your natural products store, and bee well!
Royal jelly is an amazing nutritional supplement that can relieve stress, soothe digestive ailments, strengthen the liver, alleviate insomnia, eliminate fatigue, and increase vitality.
Bee Products – Siri Says:
I’m sorry not to have the space to talk about native bees. There are about 4000 species of them.
Sadly, their work as pollinators goes largely unrecognized. Secondly, I want to encourage you to buy local honey if you can.
Compared with the active guardians of bee product standards in the EU, US standards seem very haphazard. Caveat Emptor!
Buzz Kill: Colony Collapse Disorder
In 2006, an increasing number of US beekeepers reported the disappearance of 30-90 percent of their bees.
This phenomenon continues and is also occurring in a number of European countries. In 2011, reports began to emerge from China, Japan, and Egypt.
Named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the defining characteristic is that hives are found empty of all but the queen and baby bees (brood). No dead bees.
In the beginning, the cause of this disappearance was a mystery. For the most part, it still is.
According to a UN report, 100 crop species supply 90 percent of the world’s food. Of that, more than 70 percent is pollinated by bees.
As an example, half of all the honeybees in the US are trucked to California each year to pollinate the almond orchards.
Scientists from the USDA, a number of other federal agencies, departments of agriculture in various states, universities, and private companies as well as scientists in the EU are investigating CCD. Overall, those studying the problem believe it is multi-causal.
A variety of stressors weaken the bees until they can no longer maintain. Right now, the spotlight is focused on a new class of systemic insecticide called neonicotinoid pesticides.
Two recent studies in Science make a case for this type of pesticide as causal. If the researchers are right, then we are in for a battle.
Neonicotinoids cover 142 million acres in the US. Most of it is on corn, a primary protein for bees. Being systemic, this pesticide also accumulates in the soil.
Not only are long range effects not known, industry science is suspected of being “deliberately deceptive”. In the UK, Parliament has asked Bayer Cropscience to explain discrepancies in their evidence.
When beekeepers and concerned environmental groups filed an “Imminent Hazard” legal claim, asking the EPA to step up their investigations, the EPA declined to take emergency action, in essence, telling the concerned citizens, “Buzz off”.
For the human race, bees are the “canaries in the coal mine”. Their health is an indicator of the health of our environment.
We can help protect bees (and other beneficial insects) by avoiding the use of pesticides midday when they are going about their business; by growing plants that are good sources of nectar and pollen, such as red clover (www.nappe.org); and by getting involved. (See www.panna.org.)
On Huffington Post, Annie Spiegelman, the Dirt Diva, writes,
“Our generation, and our children’s generation face overwhelming environmental issues. How do we process climate change? Water and food shortages? Biodiversity collapse? If we stop poisoning bees, they will thrive and the world we live in will be more resilient as a result.”