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Apitherapy is the use of honeybee produced substances for health and healing.
Honeybees produce honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and beeswax, all of which are used by people for nutrition, immune system support, treatment of a variety of ailments, skin care, and healing of open wounds. Even bee venom is used to treat many chronic conditions.
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Bee Pollen is the male reproductive material of plants used by bees to feed their larvae. Pollen is the honeybee's exclusive source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids that people require. People use bee pollen as a multi-vitamin, energy booster, and/or to build up their resistance to air-borne (hay fever type) allergens.
Propolis is a combination of beeswax, honey, and tree resins mixed with bee-produced enzymes, used to protect the bee hive from bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Propolis has natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. People use propolis as a remedy for colds & influenza, and to boost the immune system. The antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of propolis make it an ideal topical ingredient for treating various skin conditions.
Royal Jelly is an enzyme enriched food, produced by young worker bees and fed to a queen bee for her entire life. People use royal jelly as a multi-vitamin, an immune system booster to promote longevity, and for mental clarity.
Honey is plant nectar, converted to simple sugars, dehydrated, and used for energy and winter food. People use honey as a natural sweetener, as a sore throat remedy, cough suppressant, and for healing wounds. See About Honey to learn more.
Bee Venom is produced by worker female bees to defend themselves and their colony. People use bee venom to treat over 40 illnesses, including warts, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Learn more about Bee Venom Therapy.
Beeswax is produced by worker female bees for building the honeycomb structure that is used for brood rearing and storing of honey & pollen. People use beeswax for a number of items including candles, cosmetics, and furniture polishes. See About Beeswax and Candles to learn more.
Bee Nutraceutical products are pure and natural honeybee products used as dietary supplements to promote good health. The products produced by the honeybee are Royal Jelly, Pollen, Propolis, and Honey. These products may be taken separately in their native form or mixed into blends to provide the right balance in an easy to take mixture.
Honey, beeswax, and propolis are used as healing and pampering agents in a number of body care products including soap, lip balm, cremes, salves and lotions.
Honey has been used in treating open wounds for centuries. Until the development of antibiotics in the mid 1900s, honey was the primary treatment for wounds on the battlefield. For the next 50 years, the use of honey in wound care, especially in western countries, lost favour. However, in the past 20 years there has been renewed interest in using honey, driven in large part by the concern of the rapid development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
There has been a large number of peer reviewed scientific studies that have shown the efficacy of using honey, particularly manuka honey, in the treatment of severe chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers. Honey can be used to treat open wounds, burns, and skin ulcers. Results from studies have shown that honey used on open wounds has the following results:
- Inflamation, swelling and pain are quickly reduced
- Unpleasant odours cease
- Wound dressings can be changed painlessly with no damage to re-growing tissue
- Minimal scarring occurs
Honey has been shown to prevent the growth of wound bacteria and to protect the wound from getting infected. Honey also provides a moist, nutrient rich environment that actually assists the natural healing process of the body.
Unlike antibiotics that have a single mode of action against bacteria, honey has multiple modes of action that attack bacteria in different ways:
Anti-Microbial Properties of Honey
Mode Description Osmotic Effect
Honey is over 80% sugar and leaves few water molecules available for micro-organisms.
Acidity The pH level for honey is between 3.2 and 4.5, which is inhospitable for most wound bacteria that can tolerate a minimum pH level of approximately 4.0 to 4.5.
Honey contains glucose oxidase, an enzyme which facilitates a reaction that produces a slow release of hydrogen peroxide. The low levels of hydrogen peroxide produced are sufficient to kill bacteria without damaging tissue.
Some honey contains other plant chemicals with anti-microbial properties. These are not available in all types of honey. The best known, and most widely researched honey with phytochemical anti-microbial properties, is manuka honey.
Honey has been shown to be effective against species of bacteria most commonly involved in wound infection. This includes several studies showing honey being effective against "super bugs" such as Methicillin-resistant-Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) and Vancomycin-resistant-Enterococci (VRE).
All honey have anti-microbial properties. However, the anti-microbial activity can range up to 100 times, ie one honey may be up to 100 times more effective than another honey. Different honeys also have differing anti-microbial activities against various strains of wound bacteria.
Manuka honey is produced from nectar from the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), a member of the tea tree family, native to New Zealand. Manuka honey is known for its highly active antibacterial properties, far beyond those of normal honeys.
The special antibacterial properties of manuka honey, also referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), are due to phytochemicals in the manuka nectar. The UMF activity of manuka honey is highly stable compared to the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial mode, which deteriorates with high temperatures and over the span of 6-12 months.
Dr. Peter Molan, and his team from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, are responsible for much of the modern day research on honey used for wound care. Manuka honey is clearly the honey of choice in modern honey wound care dressings. It is recommended that only medical grade honey is used in the care of open wounds, as the honey has been sterilized to ensure that it contains no active pathogens.
Manuka honey is also widely used to assist in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, such as peptic ulcers. The belief is that the UMF antibacterial activity of the manuka honey works against harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Anecdotal evidence appears to support this theory but peer reviewed scientific evidence is still lacking.
Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) is the use of bee venom to treat human and animal disorders using a live bee or bee venom injection. BVT is used to treat people, horses, dogs, and cats. Over 40 different illnesses are treated with BVT including arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
BVT practitioners need to be careful because bee venom is histamine (poison) and it may cause a person to have an allergic reaction, which may vary from slight reddening of the skin to a life threatening situation with difficulty breathing.
Before a person starts with a BVT treatment schedule, he/she should conduct thorough research, consult a physician, and have an EpiPen nearby.
BVT is not for everyone. It is sometimes difficult to obtain bees and a treatment is painful.
The old fashioned method of applying a bee sting caused the bee to die. New methods consist of stinging through a stainless steel micro mesh, which allows the venom to enter the skin but prevents the stinger barb from attaching. Thus, the bee is not harmed and her venom regenerates within one or two days.