"Quite wonderful riddles lie concealed in all that happens with the bees, and by much studying of them one can learn to know what happens between the head and the body in man." - Rudolph Steiner
Humans have been cultivating honeybee colonies for at least 20,000 years. Throughout generations, the bees have played a crucial role not only in the pollination of most flowers and crops, but also in popular folk stories.
For instance, in Celtic mythology, whenever someone passes away a bee will show up during the funeral - signifying that the soul has left the body of that person. This is commonly referred to as the "tell it to the bees" tradition. Not only the Celtics, but in England, Scotland and Wales and many other beekepers across Europe treated honeybees as extended members of their family, keeping them informed of any family news within the household. If the bees were not informed of their owner passing away, it was thought that the bees would either die or fly away.
During his nine lectures in the late 1920's, Rudolf Steiner warned the attendees on the dangers caused by the extinction of bees which we predicted to take place in about 100 years from that lecture. Interestingly enough, an article by brightly.co brings up a report stating that "the American bumblebee has declined by 89% in relative abundance and continues to decline toward extinction."
The reason for this being multifactorial - habitat loss, climate change and most importantly, the increased use of pesticides.
Some studies have even gone as far as to predict that if bees every go extinct, the probability of humans surviving past five years is unlikely. This goes to show the incredible role that bees and their byproduct - pollen, honey, propolis and royal jelly.
Honeybees are Responsible for pollination of 85% of human food crops. According to the World Wildlife Fund, one of every three bites of food we consume is dependent on pollinators.
Pollination by honeybees ensures the continuity of food sources for all humans and animals by creating seeds for next year's crops. They are also responsible for the pollination of cotton and flax crops that are used to make clothes.
Now let's get into the uses and benefits of each:
RAW+ MANUKA HONEY
It is important to note that not all honey is created equal. Here are the best and most medicinal types of honey.
Raw honey has a host of health benefits ranging from treating eye infections to prevention of certain types of cancer, diabetes and gastrointestinal diseases.
Honey is the beehive's main source of food and an excellent antioxidant. An antioxidant is any nutrient that prevents cells from oxidizing - which is a process of cell declina that not only speeds up aging but promotes disease. Regular consumption of honey will not only prevent a certain level of diseases associated with aging but it will also help your body detoxify of common environmental toxins. Honey and propolis (which will talk about more below) has also been found to have strong antibacterial properties.
The following are 5 benefits associated with an increased use of honey.
Our skin is constantly been exposed to air pollution, free radicals and environmental toxins that are having an effect on the health of our skin. Since honey is such a powerful antioxidant and antibacterial, using honey topically in the form of a face mask or through the use of natural honey based soaps, will greatly improve any kind of skin conditions like rosacea, breakouts, eczema, rashes, etc.
I'm sure we have all seen a box of Honey Nut Cheerios advertising the benefits of honey cheerios for heart health - and although the claims that this cereal will help your cardiovascular system are SERIOUSLY misleading, the benefits of raw honey for your health, are not.
Research shows that the antioxidants contained in honey can prevent arteries from narrowing. Depending on the place of occurrence, narrowing may lead to cardiac failure, memory deterioration, or headaches. Drinking a glass of water (even better, lemon water) with a few spoonfuls of honey will do a very good job at preventing that.
Most gut issues are originated from issues in the GI tract - cleansing the digestive tract and replacing it with good bacteria is something that we have tirelessly heard of in the health and wellness community. However, honey can be a simple and practical way to do this. Eating a spoonful of honey on an empty stomach can prevent various diseases associated with the digestive tract like irritable bowel syndrome, crohn's disease, food allergies, etc. In addition, while passing through the stomach, honey destroys germs and heals small wounds in the mucous membrane.
Lowered cholesterol level
Yet another Honey Nut Cheerios claim that doesn't quite pertain to a heavy-sugar gmo- grain product, but that honey actually does fulfill. Due to its composition, contributes to decreasing levels of cholesterol. Daily consumption of honey has a beneficial effect on the level of antioxidant compounds in the body that can fight excess cholesterol.
Powerful for Stress Relief & Sleep
Honey helps to soothe the nerves and relieve fatigue. This happens as a result of the sugar contained in honey being absorbed into the blood and increasing a healthy level of insulin in the blood - this is then transformed into serotonin and lastly, melatonin. Melatonin will ultimately give you the feeling of relaxation and readiness for bed.
This is greatly associated with royal jelly - which we will get into below. Research not only has shown the ability of honey to be a potent antioxidant, but also its ability to fight cognitive stress. The calcium contained in honey is easily ingested by the brain, which has a beneficial effect on its functioning. It is easy to see how after getting good sleep, your brain will have undergone the proper process of repair and paired with honey's ability to easy cognitive stress, memory is greatly benefitted as a result.
Interestingly enough, another type of honey has been found to be an incredibly effective alternative resource for oral health :
Originally from Australia and new Zealand, Manuka honey contains higher levels of a compound called methylglyoxal. This powerful ingredient has antimicrobial properties that help the body fight bacteria, fungi, and more. Manuka honey has four main properties:
Anti-inflammatory: reduces pain and swelling associated with toothaches. If you are suffering from gum disease, it will help alleviate inflammation.
Antibacterial: helps clean your teeth. Manuka honey helps break down the plaque that causes tooth decay.
Antiviral: due to its antiviral properties, Manuka honey can fight against oral infections, gum disease, and more. Use Manuka honey to keep your teeth and gums free of viruses.
Antioxidant: This all-natural healer cleanses your mouth of impurities by introducing antioxidants to the body. This can result in fresher breath and healthier teeth.
Thie active ingredient Methylglyoxal, has been proven to successfully fight bacteria of all kinds. It can even break down one of the most antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, E. Coli - commonly found in most infections like food poisoning, UTI's, kidney infections, etc.
On top of that, this active ingredient diminishes biofilm, which is the primary cause of plaque buildup on and around your teeth and gums. As a result, Manuka honey can also prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Moreover, Manuka honey also produces hydrogen peroxide, which is one of the strongest bacteria fighters that we know of today. You can replace antiseptic peroxide mouthwash that cleans our mouth of bad AND good bacteria with manuka honey which will remove harmful residue from the surface of your teeth, thus preventing plaque from building up around the gums while keeping the good bacteria.
Here are 4 ways you can include Manuka honey in your oral care routine:
Mouthwash: Replace your regular mouthwash with Manuka honey. Unlike mass-produced mouthwashes, this honey only kills harmful bacteria while keeping the good bacteria you need to maintain a healthy mouth.
Toothpaste: Apply some Manuka honey to your toothbrush and brush your teeth with it. This way, it’ll get into the nooks and crannies of your teeth and immediately begin its plaque destruction.
Gum massage: Rub a drop of Manuka honey directly on your gums to reduce swelling and inflammation. Even if you don’t suffer from gum disease, you can use this method to prevent bacteria from accumulating around your gums.
Ingest it normally: A spoonful of honey daily keeps tooth decay away! You can swallow a spoonful or add Manuka honey to your tea. But note that it won’t be as effective as applying it directly to the affected area.
source: Apple Springs Family Dentistry
Propolis has many crucial chores within the beehive. First and foremost, this glue-like substance keeps the bee colony safe and healthy from infection-causing microorganisms that thrive in a high-humidity environment like a beehive. Not only that, but propolis is actually the colony's immune system. There are over 300 elements found in propolis, most of which are nutrients and master antioxidants often referred to as polyphenols and flavonoids (quercetin, galangin, chrysin). Propolis also contains amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. These compounds have led to research on its ability to fight viruses, antibiotic resisting bacteria and fungi like candida.
A quick lesson in history
There is evidence suggesting that propolis has been around for thousands of years:
As early as 100 BC, Roman soldiers would carry this sticky substance with them into war due to its rapid wound healing properties.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3655583/)
In the Old Testament, the medicinal uses of propolis, referred to as "tzori" are praised thoroughly.
In the 1600s propolis was listed as an official drug in the London Pharmacopeias.
During WW1 and WW2 Russian soldiers used to carry propolis, which they referred to as "Russian penicilin".
During his 1920s lectures, Rudolf Steiner praised on the similarities of the conditions found inside of the beehive (warm and humid) and the conditions inside of the human body. If propolis has immune-protecting abilities on the beehive, it is to be inferred that the same could apply within the human body environment.
The use of propolis as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal has long been known given that there is a diverse plethora of ailments against which propolis is a powerful healer. Propolis has been found to provide protection ranging from a simple infected wound to food poisoning caused by E.coli, to potentially life threatening hospital-originated infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. Not only that, but propolis also has the ability to enhance the healing properties of pharmaceutical antibiotics.
More importantly, propolis has no known side effects, as opposed to antiviral drugs like acyclo-vir, interferon-a and oseltamivir, that can cause kidney injury, neurological damage and more. This is not to say that there is not a time and place for antibiotics.
Bacteria have a surprising ability to evolve and mutate at a rapid pace and have grown to create resistance to most common antibiotics on the market today. Some of the reasons for increasing antibiotic resistance are:
the overuse of antibiotics on mostly viral and fungal infections.
the widespread use of antibiotics to prevent infections and stimulate growth used for meat, dairy and fish farming that leave antibiotic residues in the foods we consume daily.
poor infection control in overcrowded healthcare settings
inappropriate use of antibiotics, meaning a lack of treatment completion.
The problem is that we currently have a rise of "superbugs" that are becoming incresingly more antibiotics resistant - to the extent that according to the CDC, today there are 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occurring in the United States each year.
Now, at this point you could be asking yourself whether the use of propolis might not also at one point cause some level of antibiotic resistance.
Bees, just like humans are highly prone to bacterial infections, however it is this "bee glue" that time and time again protects the beehive from dangerous bacteria - hence why its named the "beehive's immune system". Propolis does not create antibiotic resistance given that it is a live intelligent substance that not only targets harmful bacteria and is able to adapt but it also strengthens the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies against the viruses and reducing inflammation.
Here is a partial list of bacteria that are proven to respond positively to propolis treatment:
Bacillus cereus, Bacillus mesentericus, Corynebacterium spp., Corynebacterium diphtherine, Diplococcus pneumonae, Enterococcus spp., Mycobacteria sp., Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus: critecus epidermis faecalis mutans, pyogenes,
viridans, sobrinus, Micrococcus luteus.
Just like there is antibiotic resistance, there is also fungal resistance. There is an important connection to be made from the overuse of antibiotics to the gut-related chronic conditions that people are currently experiencing. This overuse of antibiotics is wiping out all the bacteria that is found in the gut - even the healthy bacteria, leading the way for yeast overgrowth primarily in the digestive tract. This now opens the floodgates for a plethora of GI tract conditions like food sensitivities and IBS. Research conducted in the U.S, Turkey and brazil have found that propolis is an effective agent in the treatment of yeast overgrowth related conditions like candida, thrush (a common yeast infection in the mouth, that is particularly common amongst people who wear dentures), gastric ulcers, vulvovaginal candidiasis (vaginitis), tooth decay, gastric ulcers, acne burns and periodontal disease.
Propolis is not only for the treatment of bacteria and fungi, but also parasites and viruses. Research has found that propolis is effective in the treatment against malaria, giardia, toxoplasmosis, trichomoniasis, chaga's disease and leishmaniasis - common parasite induced conditions. Moreover, propolis was shown to stop the growth of the H1N1, HON1 and H3N2 viruses as well as "retroviruses" like HIV and a similar virus that cause a form of leukemia and the polio Virus.
The Queen Bee's exclusive superfood. Royal Jelly is used as nourishment for a worker bees' first three days of life. However, those chosen to become queens, are bathed in and fed royal jelly throughout most of their lifetimes.
Royal Jelly is a protein-rich byproduct from the glands of worker bees - it is usually referred to as a "honey bee's version of mother's milk" due to its nourishing effects.
Because of this special nourishment protocol, queen bees are up to 1.5 times the size of worker bees and have the ability to reproduce, which is their special and only task. Whenever a colony needs a new queen, they will select up to 10 larvae and begin feeding them royal jelly to promote growth and development.
Just like many other alternative practices that involve food as medicine, royal jelly has also been used for centuries in Chinese and Old European medicine.
For instance, in traditional Chinese medicine, royal jelly was commonly referred to as "food of the emperors" given its ability to promote longevity, boosting stamina and immune system capabilities.
Royal jelly is one of the most nutrient rich substances - it contains all the B vitamins, Vitamin C, fatty acids, antioxidants and Collagen. These are some of the most common benefits:
Current research has found a positive correlation between daily royal jelly intake and the reduction of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels and overall having cardioprotective properties. A 1995 study found that just 0.1 grams of royal jelly decreased cholesterol by 14%.
Immune System Boost and Protection
Leigh Broadhurst, Ph.D., a USDA researcher, postures that just like mother’s milk helps to boost the immunity of newborn mammals, royal jelly promotes immune system protection of a honey bee colony. Not only that, but another study conducted in Egypt demonstrated that royal jelly was capable of killing several different kinds of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli.
Cognitive Stamina & Focus
Perhaps what royal jelly is most commonly known for. A single dose of royal jelly taken daily with food or drinks has been proven to increase focus, memory and cognitive stamina. A 2001 Japanese study confirmed these claims, finding that the endurance of mice increased when they were fed fresh royal jelly. It is for this reason that a great amount of cognitive enhancing supplements will contain royal jelly.
Because of the high levels of collagen found in royal jelly, it can also be used cosmetically to achieve a more youthful looking skin. In great part, wrinkles appear when our skin loses collagen that promotes skin elasticity, so by using facemasks made with royal jelly, you're aiding your dermis to absorb collagen and vitamin C.
As royal jelly makes the queen be develop its natural reproductive capabilities, so can it do the same for human cells. In fact, royal jelly’s effects on reproductivity have been validated scientifically in several studies – perhaps because of its ability to balance hormones, or it’s ability to boost overall wellness and nutrition. In three different studies, rabbits fed a royal jelly supplement had increased fertility; quail reached sexual maturity faster and laid more eggs, and chickens had increased egg production.
Returning back to our nature --------
If you look close enough, you'll find that hidden within nature are tons of resources that you can use to heal naturally and effectively. In fact, most of modern Western medicine was originally created modeling the natural medicinal properties of nature. However, it seems as if throughout the years we have lost connection with our environment and the wisdom that can be found within it.
The human body is amazingly equipped to fight off pathogens. Our natural immunity is the most powerful resource at our disposition - but it requires that we maintain an inner terrain that allows for the body to function as nature intended it to.
As always, I urge you to be your own advocate and take what works best for your body and your specific needs. Our purpose is to bring informed opinion articles as well as awareness to products and practices that might enhance your daily life. Please feel free to reach out to our team with questions or just to let us know if you have tried and seen any benefits from our recommendations. We always love to hear from our community!
Royal jelly- a worker bee produced, Protein Rich, mother’s milk. Bee Culture -. (2017, March 17). https://www.beeculture.com/royal-jelly-worker-bee-produced-protein-rich-mothers-milk/
Kuropatnicki AK, Szliszka E, Krol W. Historical aspects of propolis research in modern times. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:964149. doi: 10.1155/2013/964149. Epub 2013 Apr 28. PMID: 23710243; PMCID: PMC3655583.
Catch the buzz – these eight things will start happening to your body if you eat honey every day. (2017) Bee Culture -. Available at: https://www.beeculture.com.
Piza, A. (2023) Are bees endangered? here’s everything you need to know, Brightly. Available at: https://brightly.eco/blog/are-bees-endangered (Accessed: 19 June 2023).
Springs, A. (2023) The amazing oral health benefits of Manuka Honey Your Dentist has not shared with you, Apple Springs Family Dentistry. Available at: https://www.applespringsfamilydentistry.com/dental-health-benefits-manuka-honey/ (Accessed: 19 June 2023).
Lemerond, T. (2017)Terry Talks Nutrition booklet on "Propolis: Nature's Most Powerful Infection Fighter".