Monday, May 16, 2016

The Magic of Bees: The Health Benefits of Honey and Bee Pollen

Honey is one of the oldest known sweeteners.  In Russia, the extremely potent honey from Siberian bees was give out as a prescription for almost all ailments.  In ancient Egypt honey was used to heal wounds. However, not all honey on the store shelves is the same.  Honey is extremely heat sensitive due to the sheer number of beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  Honey that has been processed in any way losses most of its benefits.  Also, honey that was not properly harvested and made by bees that have been fed sugar instead of naturally collecting pollen from flowers and improper storage can contribute to a loss in nutrients.  Honey that is mass produced is just as bad as sugar. 

Raw honey is the best honey.  It is an alkalining food that doesn't ferment in the stomach.  It can be used to counteract acid indigestion.  When mixed with ginger and lemon juices it also relieves nausea and supplies energy.  Raw honey has been reported to be good for respiratory infections, liver problems. stomach ulcers, digestive problems, constipation, strengthen the immune system and promote general vitality.


Manuka honey is most nutritious of honeys.  I have never been able to find it raw but it is worth the hype and the price.  It is only made in New Zealand and Australia from European honey bees foraging on the manuka tree. To be labelled New Zealand mānuka honey at least 70% of its pollen content should come from the manuka tree. In 2004 Britain's National Health Service (NHS) licensed the use of medical grade manuka honey as a wound dressing, And in recent tests conducted at Sydney University's School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, manuka honey killed every type of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant "superbugs". For some reason this antibacterial property is stable and doesn't lose its potency when exposed to dilution, heat or light as in other processed honeys.  So I always have a jar of it in my house that I take out when I feel I am starting to come down with something.  But when I just want something sweet I use raw honey.

Also made from bees is bee pollen and it is so full of nutrition it is labeled as a super food! It is about 40% protein and since about half of that is in the form of free amino acids it is ready to be used directly by the body and can contribute significantly to one's protein needs.  
It interestingly cannot be synthesized in a laboratory.  When researchers feed bees manmade pollen the bee dies even though all the known nutrients are present in the lab-produced synthesized food.  It is important to recognize that one teaspoon does of pollen takes on bee working eight hours a day for one month to gather.  

Pollen is known to improve endurance and vitality, aid in recovery from chronic illness, reduce cravings and addictions, regulate intestines, build new blood and boost the immune system.  It is thought to protect against radiation and to have anti-cancer qualities.  Pollen is rich in proteins, free amino acids, and vitamins including B-complex and folic acid. It is a complete food. and according to researchers at the Institute of Apiculture, Taranov, Russia, "Pollen is the richest source of vitamins found in nature in a single food." Research still continues in how many nutrients are in bee pollen but so far over 5,000 enzymes and co-enzymes have been found, far more than is naturally present in any other food!