I have been using Manuka honey to boost my immune system at the first sign of feeling sick. I add bee pollen to my morning smoothie to get the anti-inflammatory benefits that I read about. With recently researching ‘sour honey’ for anticancer properties I stumbled on the work apiculture.
Apiculture is the science and art of prolonging, sustaining, and retaining health by using products obtained from honeybee hives, such as honey, bee bread, bee venom, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. I feel like just the last couple of years I have seen the growth of bee products in lots of different ways and did more research on what is actually proving to be affective. Here is the info I collected on the benefits of bee products, including honey, propolis, and royal jelly.
Honey is being recognized worldwide due to its high nutritive components that are beneficial for human well-being. It has been traditionally used by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese to heal wounds and diseases of the gut, including gastric ulcers. It has also been used as a remedy for cough, sore throat, and earaches. In India, Lotus honey has been traditionally used to treat eye infections and other diseases.
Propolis is generally known as the “bee glue”, which is a generic name that refers to the resinous substance accumulated by the bees from different types of plants. Propolis functions in sealing holes and cracks and for the reconstruction of the beehive. It is also used for retaining the hive's internal temperature, preventing weathering and invasion by predators. Propolis has numerous applications in treating various diseases due to its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer, properties. Part of the reason it has such applications is it contains important vitamins, such as B1, B2, B6, C, and E and useful minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, copper, zinc, manganese, and iron.
Royal jelly, a white and viscous jelly-like substance, is a form of hypopharyngeal and mandibular gland secretion from the worker bees. It is also known as a “superfood” that is solely consumed by the queen bee. Royal jelly is also fed to the honeybee larvae upon hatching. This superfood is the main reason for the longevity of the queen bee compared to the other bees. Royal jelly is widely used as a dietary nutritional complex to help combat various chronic health conditions and is seen to be antibacterial, antitumor, antiallergy, and anti-inflammatory. Approximately 185 organic compounds have been detected in royal jelly. Royalactin is the most important protein present in royal jelly. In addition, royal jelly has hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, prolactin, and estradiol that can be very helpful.
8 Health Benefits of Honey
1. Wound Management
Honey has traditionally been used to treat wounds, insect bites, burns, skin disorders, sores, and boils. Scientific documentation of the wound-healing capabilities of honey validates its efficacy as a promoter of wound repair and an antimicrobial agent.
Honey has a beneficial effect on child dermatitis caused by excessive use of napkins and diapers, eczema, and psoriasis. The effect of honey mixed with beeswax and olive oil was investigated on patients with psoriasis showed significant improvements (reference)
2. Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorder
Natural honey is composed of enzymes that facilitate the absorption of food. Honey also provides some nutrients, such as minerals, phytochemicals, and flavonoids, that aid digestive processes in the body Manuka honey has antibacterial properties as well. Studies have also shown that natural honey contains high amount of prebiotics, hastening the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
3. Oral Health
Honey is useful for the treatment of many oral diseases, including periodontal disease, stomatitis, and halitosis. In addition, it has also been applied for the prevention of dental plaque, gingivitis, mouth ulcers, and periodontitis. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can stimulate the growth of granulation tissue, leading to the repair of damaged cells
4. Pharyngitis and Coughs
Pharyngitis, commonly known as sore throat, is an acute infection induced by Streptococcus spp. in the nose and throat. In addition to streptococci, viruses, nonstreptococcal bacteria, fungi, and irritants such as chemical pollutants may also cause sore throat. Manuka honey is effective for treating sore throat with its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Honey coats the inner lining of the throat and destroys the harmful microbes while simultaneously soothing the throat. The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of honey aided in minimizing persistent cough and ameliorated sleep for both children and adults following honey intake (2.5 ml). A comparative study on children with different natural products reported that honey was found to be the widely used remedy for pneumonia 82.4% [reference].
5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a mucosal infection caused by contents of abnormal gastric reflux into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, inflammation, and acid regurgitation. Consumption of honey helps this condition by coating the esophagus and stomach lining, thus preventing the upward flow of food and gastric juice. Honey can further stimulate the tissues on the sphincter to assist in their regrowth and finally reduce the chances of acid reflux.
6. Bowel Movements
Honey has been known to minimize the duration of viral diarrhea compared to conventional antiviral therapy. Manuka honey on an empty stomach helps with inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) experiencing severe diarrhea or constipation, bloating, and stomach discomfort.
7. Liver and Pancreatic Diseases
Honey helps to soothe pain, balance liver systems, and neutralize toxins. Complications in the liver system can be attributed to oxidative damage. Honey exhibits antioxidant activities that have a potential protective effect on the damaged liver. Honey, which has a 1 : 1 ratio of fructose to glucose, may help to promote better blood sugar level, which is useful for those suffering from fatty liver disease since it provides adequate glycogen storage in liver cells. Insufficient glycogen storage in the liver releases stress hormones that impair glucose metabolism over time. Impaired glucose metabolism leads to insulin resistance and is the main factor of fatty liver disease.
8. Breast Cancer
Imbalance in estrogen plays a role in breast cancer growth. Phytoestrogens are chemicals found in nature that when ingested act like estrogen in the body. Honey has phytoestrogens in it. Very specifically Tualang honey shows highly specific and selective killing effects towards breast cancer cell lines and has a good potential as a chemotherapeutic agent [reference].