Pollen & Propolis
Bee pollen is sometimes called ‘the perfect food’. Bee pollen benefits stem from the fact that it has more than 96 different nutrients, including every single nutrient needed to sustain human life. It is made up of 40% protein, nearly all is usable by the body without any further breakdown or metabolism.
The health benefits of bee pollen have been known for thousands of years. It was a mainstay of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, a discipline that is gaining a great deal of respect among western doctors recently.
Bee pollen combines 22 amino acids, vitamin C, B-complex, folic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids, enzymes, and carotene – all the major antioxidants that have so far been discovered.
Trees produce a resin to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi and insects. Worker bees collect this resin and mix it with a variety of other ingredients to make a substance known as propolis. The bees use it as a sealant and adhesive throughout the hive. Generally, any unwanted space that’s smaller than a bee will be filled with propolis.
While its ingredients vary from season to season and place to place, typical northern temperate propolis has about 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%).
It is especially rich in amino acids, important for immune system function. It has a high vitamin content (Vitamin A (carotene), Vitamin B1, B2, B3, biotin) and is extremely rich in bioflavonoids (Vitamin P) which are believed to have many immune building properties and health benefits. Bioflavonoids are the natural pigments in fruits and vegetables and are found in abundance in oranges. Propolis has almost 500 times more bioflavonoids than is found in oranges! It also has an array of albumin, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, propolis has been used as a healing agent for many centuries. It’s believed to have the ability to give protection against infection, promote healing and regeneration of tissue. It has been used as ointments for healing cuts and wounds and shown to have outstanding value for a variety of illnesses. It is also used as a natural alternative to penicillin and other antibiotics. In the former Eastern Bloc countries, antibiotics have never been widely available, but beekeeping is widely practised. To help prevent many diseases, hospitals and clinics recommended washing, gargling or irrigating the sinuses with propolis rinses, as well as taking propolis internally.
Bee stings are generally regarded as something to be avoided and who can argue with that? A sting is effectively a small injection (between 5 and 50 micrograms) of an acidic compound that can be fatal to someone with the right (or wrong) allergy.
Evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, is mounting that honeybee venom can be used to treat a number of conditions. For centuries, hive products have been used as medical treatments, but the modern study of apitherapy can be traced to a report published by an Austrian Physician in 1888: “Report about a Peculiar Connection Between the Bee stings and Rheumatism”.
Bee venom therapy is most associated with treating different types of arthritis: beekeepers have reported lower than average levels of arthritis for a very long time. The most abundant active part of the venom is melittin, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. However, bee venom is a complex mix of a variety of peptides and proteins, some of which have strong neurotoxic and immunogenic effects.
More recently, there’s been growing popularity in the use of venom therapy as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. The science is not as supportive, nor has it been thoroughly investigated, but the anecdotal evidence is compelling. Gord met a local gentleman recently who has taken venom therapy since June 1995. 5-10 stings every other day adds up to a large amount of dedication and what must certainly be results. His failing eyesight returned quickly and he’s able to look after his own daily needs. He’s able to function. His doctors can’t explain it. It’s a compelling story to hear.