Archive for Apitherapy

Antibiotic Resistant Microbes

Before antibiotics, it is estimated that 50 percent of people died from infections. Now, after 75 years of use, statistics reveal that every year at least 2.8 million people are hospitalized with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, which according to 2019 statistics result in at least 48,700 deaths in the United States alone.1 It is worth mentioning 5 percent of hospital patients (about 2 million) who are admitted for routine procedures become infected at some point during their stay.

How’d We Get Here?

Discovered by Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, by the mid 1940’s, penicillin, a mold-derived antibiotic became available for commercial use. “In 1945 the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to Alexander Fleming and Howard Florey for their discovery of the antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum.”2

Escherichia coli

The threat of microbial resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing each year with devastating effects. These “superbugs” are outracing the drug industry’s ability to keep up with the need. While it may take a human 20 years to reproduce offspring, a bacterium such as E. coli can replicate every twenty minutes!

We’ve Known About this for
Nearly 100 Years!

Bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, should not come as a surprise. In his book Herbal Antibiotics, Steven Harrod Buhner writes “Dr. Fleming noted as early as 1929 in the British Journal of Experimental Biology that numerous bacteria were already resistant to the drug he had discovered, and by 1945 he warned in a New York Times interview that improper use of penicillin would inevitably lead to the development of resistant bacteria.”

How Does It Happen?

Bacterial cell division depicting daughter cells receiving both a copy of the chromosome and a copy of a plasmid. Public Domain

Antibiotic resistance occurs because bacteria are able to share genetic material just by being in close proximity to one another.  The genetic material is communicated very quickly in little packages called plasmids.

The word antibiotic when broken down simply means anti ‘against’ and biotic ‘life’. At its core an antibiotic’s design is to function ‘against life’. Its use is intended to kill off certain problematic bacteria. However, antibiotics annihilate most microbes in their path. Microbes have the ability to adapt to hostile elements such as antibiotics while remaining in their environment. What a statement to resiliency in life.

Fluoroquinolones…

It is alarming how many bacterial species are still becoming resistant to the group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones (‘fluoro’ because they contain fluoride) that can cause very debilitating side-effects.

Ciprofloxacin Molecule

One example, Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is a lab-derived chemical structure used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Cipro’s “superpower” is that it can destroy anthrax bacillus anthracis bacteria as well as eliminate many other varieties of bacteria (including the helpful ones) because it targets an enzyme essential for DNA transactions that is common to all bacteria.

Intent to keep ahead of the rapidly mutating bacteria, pharmaceutical companies have modified the chemical structure of fluoroquinolones but have been mostly unsuccessful. The Merck Manual states “Many newer fluoroquinolones have been withdrawn from the US market because of toxicity; they include trovafloxacin (because of severe hepatic toxicity), gatifloxacin (because of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia), grepafloxacin (because of cardiac toxicity), temafloxacin (because of acute renal failure, hepatotoxicity, hemolytic anemia, coagulopathy, and hypoglycemia), and lomefloxacin, sparfloxacin, and enoxacin.”3

Conventional Medicine…

The most well-known use of antibiotics occurs as a medicine when a person suffering from a microbial infection visits a hospital or doctor. “A national survey of antibiotic use done by CDC’s Emerging Infections Programs identified key opportunities to reduce inappropriate use. This study found that two out of three antibiotics in hospitals are given for three conditions: pneumonia, urinary tract infections (including bladder and kidney infections), and skin infections.”4

In another study done in 2016, “CDC experts found that overall rates of antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals did not change from 2006-2012. More than half of patients received at least one antibiotic during their hospital stay.  However, there were significant changes in the types of antibiotics prescribed with the most powerful antibiotics being used more often than others.”5

Due to the overuse of antibiotics the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes looms large in the healthcare industry. The following three-page document linked to the image below is offered for your convenience. The data has been provided by the CDC.

Click the image to view, download, or print the full PDF.

Digging Deeper

The antibiotic discovered by Alexander Fleming was derived from the mold Penicillium chrysogenum. This mold naturally produces the antibiotic with the familiar name, penicillin. Industrially produced by fermentation, penicillin is known to have a high therapeutic index that does not negatively effect human cells.

The modern production of antibiotics now occurs in a lab by one of two methods. The first, semi-synthetic production includes natural fermentation plus laboratory involvement of adding an amino group (NH2) to the R group of penicillin. One result from this production method is the well-known antibiotic named ampicillin.

The second ‘synthetic’ method of antibiotic production occurs solely in a lab. There are no natural antibiotic substances used. The quinalone class of antibiotics are made in this way.

The overuse (misuse) of antibiotics in medicine, is considered a primary cause of antibiotic resistance, however, it is only one of three major routes of exposure. Another that deserves a serious look are the animal husbandry practices that affect our meat supply.

Factory Farmed Animals…

Public Domain

Antibiotics added to animal feed have been used in farming to cause animals to grow bigger and faster by converting the same amount of feed into muscle more quickly.

They are also used to counter the stress that animals are placed under when expected to grow in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The constant stress of these conditions breaks down the animal’s immune system making it more prone to disease that ultimately will require antibiotics.

Antibiotics fed to animals affects the bacteria in their body as well. Antibiotic-resistant microbes lodge in their bones and meat and cause imbalances in gut microbes, just as with humans.

When people ingest antibiotic-resistant bacteria
via improperly cooked meat and become ill,
they may not respond favorably to antibiotic treatment.

Antibiotic-resistant microbes can enter the human or animal microbiome orally, via injection, or through inhaled by aerosolization. What is especially disturbing is that antibiotic resistant organisms are finding their way into the remotest areas of the earth. While three percent of wild penguins have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, close to 50 percent of captive penguins in Antarctica have been identified with it.

“In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 6, 2002, researchers found links that strongly suggested that the people who developed Cipro-resistant bacteria had acquired them by eating pork that were contaminated with salmonella. The report concluded that salmonella resistant to the antibiotic fluoroquine can be spread from swine to humans, and, therefore, the use of fluoroquinolones in food animals should be prohibited.”6

“Another New England Journal of Medicine study from Oct. 18, 2001, found that 20 percent of ground meat obtained in supermarkets contained salmonella. Of that 20 percent that was contaminated with salmonella, 84 percent was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic.”6

Australian scientist Michelle Power states, “about three-quarters of the antibiotics that humans take are actually excreted, ending up in wastewater systems. Places where antibiotics are manufactured are also potential avenues for escape of antibiotics. And then there are the times when animals are taken into care, or raised in captivity and exposed to humans, and then released into the wild. ‘We are seeing a variation in the prevalence [of antibiotic-resistant bacteria] across different wildlife species but why that is the case, we are not sure”.7

Still there is another mode of exposure that is equally as significant yet has been largely ignored. Antibiotics have been routinely used for decades to control bacterial and fungal diseases in plants.

Agricultural Crops…

In a study published in CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, Dr. Philip Taylor and his researchers “found that 11 antibiotics (often blended together) are being recommended on crops grown in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim countries…

There is considerable attention paid to the medical and veterinary use of antibiotics, but there is a paucity of data on their use in global crop production. The only well-documented use of antibiotics on crops is that on top fruit in the U.S. These data appear to indicate that the use of antibiotics in crop production is more extensive than most of the literature would suggest.”8

Vegetables grown in unfertilized soil were equally shown
to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance
determinants that naturally occur in soils. 9, 10

Not only are these crop-sprayed antibiotics that are making their way into the food supply of people and animals, the earth’s waterways are being contaminated through runoff and the microbiome of the soil is being disrupted throughout the world.

The Root of the Problem

The isolation of plant constituents separate out a natural chemical that can be patented and manufactured or synthesized in a laboratory to create a product with more problems than it generally solves. These ‘problems’ are called as side-effects. However, in the case of antibiotics there are also effects on bacteria, fungus, or even enzymes whose response has been changed due to frequent and excessive antibiotic exposure.

How “Antibiotic” Herbs Can Help

An herbal remedy generally consists of one or more plants and the entirety of their chemical makeup. These chemicals are uniquely designed to work in unique synergistic combinations as both an offense and a defense that the plant needs to flourish in its life-cycle.

Over 5,000 distinct plant constituents (the chemical parts of plants) have been identified to date, however, there are thousands more that have yet to be identified. A single plant can have anywhere from 200 to 3,000 constituents! The complexity is simply mind-boggling.

How this natural synergistic combination of plant chemicals work, is unique to each herb and multiplied exponentially when various herbs are used together. The mechanisms of how this works is a wonderful mystery that is only just beginning to become unraveled.

Smart Herbs!

The action of herbs is not antibiotic (against life) in the truest sense of the word. Herbs are considered anti-microbial in a much broader sense as they may affect bacterium, fungi, and even protozoa yet do not destroy those organisms beneficial to the body and its vitality. Perhaps they could better be thought of as “smart herbs”. How they differentiate is amazing, but unknown.

Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis

A study published in the May 2015 Global Advances in Health and Medicine Journal offered 104 patients with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) their choice of either four weeks of antibiotic (rifaximin) or herbal therapy.

The herbs used in the herbal therapy were a proprietary mix of Oregano Origanum vulgare, Wormwood Artemisia absinthium, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Goldthread Coptis chinensis root, Indian Barberry Berberis aristata root extract, Horsetail Equisetum arvense L., Thyme Thymus vulgaris, and Olive Olea europaea.

Horsetail
Equisetum arvense L.

The results were encouraging as the research found that “Herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin for resolution of SIBO by LBT. Herbals also appear to be as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for SIBO rescue therapy for rifaximin non-responders.”11 ‘Rescue therapy’ is the term used in this study when the first 4-week course of rifaximin did not resolve the patient’s SIBO and the patient then chose the four-week herbal therapy.

Antimicrobial herbs have properties which are active against two or more groups of pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc. There are many herbs with antimicrobial properties. The following is a short list of herbs with demonstrated antimicrobial actions. There are many more that have not been included.

  • Acacia spp., Acacia 12 13
  • Achillea spp., Yarrow 14 15
  • Agrimonia eupatoria, Agrimony 16
  • Allium sativum, Garlic 17 18 19
  • Aloe vera, Aloe 20 21
  • Arctostaphylos ua-ursi, Uva-ursi 22 23
  • Cryptolepsis sanguinolenta, Cryptolepsis 24 25
  • Curcuma longa, Turmeric 26
  • Cymbopogon citrates, Lemongrass 26
  • Echinacea spp., Echinacea 27 28
  • Eucalyptus spp., Eucalyptus 29 30
  • Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal 31 32
  • Hypericum alpestre, St. John’s Wort 16
  • Juniperus spp., Juniper 33 34
  • Mahonia spp., Oregon Grape 35 36
  • Melaleuca alternifolia, Tea Tree 37 38
  • Origanum vulgare, Oil of Oregano 15
  • Tinctura propolisi, Propolis 41 42
  • Rumex obtusifolius, Bitterdock or Broad-leaved Dock 16
  • Salvia Spp., Sage 39 40
  • Sanguisorba officinalis, Great Burnet 16
  • Usnea spp., Usnea 43 44
  • Withania somnifera, Indian Ginseng 20, 26
  • Zingiber officinale, Ginger Root 26

Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Products from the Hive – Part V: BEESWAX (& Glyphosate in the Hive)

On the playground one is likely to hear almost anything.  These days it is not entirely uncommon for one child to retort to another, “It’s none of your beeswax!” and the questioner immediately holds their tongue.  This riposte was always good enough to stop the badgering and to keep the playground dynamics friendly.  Beeswax, an amazing substance known to soften and soothe skin. It also serves to smoothly soften the verbal blow.

However, the playground was a long time ago and just as the phrase “It’s none of your beeswax!” is appropriate at a certain time, we should perhaps move on, or as another “bee-ism” used by lovers of honeybees so aptly states, “Make like a bee and buzz off!”

It has now imperative that the budding holistic health professional get “busy as a bee” as it has indeed become our business to understand natural remedies and their value to help people recover their health. Let us consider beeswax as another amazing healing product of the hive.

The Latin name(s) for beeswax Cera flava or Cera alba reflect both the substance and the color. Cera is translated ‘wax’, while flava means yellow. Therefore Cera flava can be interpreted “yellow wax”. Most commonly, however, beeswax is referred to as Cera alba.  Alba meaning ‘white’ would be translated, “white wax.”  Either white or yellow beeswax can be used to make wax-based products.

Beeswax ~ How The Bees Make It

Have you ever smelled a pure beeswax candle?  If you have you might notice that is has the light aroma of honey.  When field bees collect flower nectar and bring it back to the hive, that nectar is destined to become one of two things, either honey or beeswax.

Meanwhile back at the hive young worker bees learn how to produce beeswax from the older worker bees. “Wax glands are best developed and most productive in 12-18 day-old workers. After producing wax for a few days, the wax glands begin to degenerate and by the time the bee is ready to leave the hive to become a field bee, usually when it is about 21 days of age, the glands have completely degenerated.” [1]

“Beeswax is produced by metabolizing honey in fat cells associated with the wax glands and converting it to beeswax; workers cannot produce beeswax unless there are adequate honey stores in the colony. Workers also need to eat pollen during the first five to six days of their life in order to secrete wax later on, evidently because the protein in pollen is needed at that time for adequate fat cell development (Winston 1987). Wax is secreted primarily during warm weather when foraging is active. Workers actively engaged in secreting wax engorge themselves with honey and hang in festoons at or near the site of comb building. Drones and queens do not have abdominal wax glands.” [2]

As the worker bees consume the honey, eight wax-producing glands on their abdomens convert the sugars into a wax-like substance which appears on the surface as small transparent ‘scales.’  Initially, it is glass-clear and colorless, later as other bees begin to chew on this substance the enzymes in their salivary secretions help to soften the wax and change its appearance to a light whitish-cream color that then begins to darken with age.

Beeswax ~ The Seen & The Unseen

“Absorption of flavonoids from propolis and/or carotenoids in pollen lead to a bright to dark yellow color. The typical scent of wax is enriched with aromatic substances from honey, pollen and propolis.” [3]

“100% pure beeswax will develop a naturally occurring white film on its surface over time. Commonly known as “bloom”, this white film is an indicator of the purity of the beeswax. If you purchase a candle that is labeled as “pure beeswax”, and it doesn’t develop bloom over a period of time, it may not be 100% pure. Bloom can be removed by buffing the surface of the candle with a soft cloth or by running a hair dryer on warm/low over the surface of the candle. [4]

Beeswax ~ The Breakdown

“Beeswax is a complex substance made up of wax esters, fatty acids and hydrocarbons (Piek 1964; Tulloch 1970). Over 300 individual chemical components have been identified from pure beeswax (Tulloch 1980). Beeswax consists primarily of monoesters (35%), hydrocarbons (14%), diesters (14%), triesters (3%), hydroxymonoesters (4%), hydroxypolyesters (8%), free fatty acids (12%), acid esters (1%), acid polyesters (2%), free alcohol (1%) and unidentified (6%). It is this great diversity of composition that gives beeswax many unique properties (Goodman 2003) and keeps us from fully understanding the synthesis and secretion process.” [5]

Beeswax in the Herbal Pharmacy

The herbalist uses beeswax when making ointments, creams, cerates, plasters, and suppositories to give a proper consistency and tenacity. Not only is beeswax used to thicken salves, it “is so non-polar that it’s essentially waterproof.  It won’t even mix with olive oil unless it is heated until it melts.” [6] As an emollient, beeswax is softening and soothing to the skin. It is also anti-desiccant as it works to help the skin retain moisture. Additionally, “The few studies [of beeswax] showed an antimicrobic effectiveness of beeswax against overall Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger; these inhibitory effects are enhanced synergistically with other natural products such as honey or olive oil.” [7]

Beeswax ‘Miracles’ ~ True Stories

An elderly woman with aging feet, whose skin was so thin it was translucent, had continual skin ulcers between the toes on her right foot. Previously MRSA had entered through one of the ulcerated spots on the foot. It settled in the bone requiring surgery to remove the diseased toe.

After this event, the woman’s podiatrist prescribed every manner of pharmaceutical creams, salves, and mechanical contrivances to encourage the ulcerated foot to heal over the previous year. While the surgery spot healed up another ulcerated area between the toes where they rubbed together became ulcerated, quickly becoming a very serious problem.

One day the elderly woman’s daughter traveled to visit her. (The daughter happens to be a Master Herbalist and a graduate from Genesis School of Natural Health.) She gave her mother a gift of a hand salve she had hand-crafted with beeswax, almond oil, vitamin E, and essential oils.

The next time the daughter visited she was told that at the ulcer had completely healed! The elderly woman went on to explain that she had used the “hand salve” given by her daughter on her foot each morning and again in the evening every time she cleaned and re-bandaged her foot.

At her next podiatrist appointment the doctor stared in shock at the healed foot ulcer and said, “How did you do that? I never thought we’d get that to heal up.” The woman replied, “My daughter made me a salve.” “What’s in it?”, the doctor asked. The woman recounted the list of ingredients to which the doctor replied, “Oh yes, of course. It was the beeswax.” And dropped the topic.

What was it about the beeswax that worked so magnificently for the elderly woman? There are a number of actions that came into play. First, the anti-desiccant property of the beeswax helped the skin to retain moisture, especially the moisture from the almond oil which carried the essential oils deep into the skin. Additionally, its antibacterial properties (along with those of the essential oils) helped keep bacteria on and in the ulcerated area at bay which allowed the wound to begin healing. Another very important aspect was the reduction in friction between the toes as the beeswax provided a very thin protective layer to the skin.

The following is an eye-catching example of the beneficial results of using a beeswax product on a woman diagnosed with Scleroderma, a disease that causes hardening of the skin which can be painful.

Reyah Carlson, Apitherapist at Reyah’s Bees says, this “Woman’s hand was affected by Scleroderma (an auto immune disorder.) Notice the difference in her hand before using my Bee-Lightful skin cream, and then again less than 10 days after using my skin cream!”

The Savvy Herbalist

Modern agriculture’s insistence on the use of pesticides harms more than just the food they produce. Honeybees as pollinators, are doing what they are naturally designed to do. Invariably, they will bring these chemicals back to the hive from their collection of plant pollen and nectar.

“Studies demonstrate that a cocktail of pesticides is present in bee hives. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that some of the chemicals identified might interact in a synergistic manner. In particular, some fungicides which have generally been considered as relatively safe for bees have proven to be harmful in the presence of other pesticides. These recent findings demonstrate that current standards and limits for pesticides may not actually be safe for bees. Current risk assessment schemes take only single chemical exposures into consideration.” [8]

“Residues of pesticides and varroacides accrue in wax. These residues are especially concentrated in recycled wax, preventing the absorption of additional substances and possibly transferring into honey. Not only is the honey contaminated, but also the bees’ food. Sub-lethal doses in wax show an influence on reared brood and can cause insidious but also acute damage. Therefore, combs from the brood chamber should not be used for the production of foundation. Combs in the honey chamber can be contaminated by pesticides from the environment, especially after honey flow near or in intensive agriculture.” [9]

What a conundrum we find ourselves in. Even beekeepers who practice natural beekeeping and do not contribute microbiome disrupting chemicals or essential oils to the hive, helplessly stand by and watch these bee colonies struggle and collapse under the toxic load year after year.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

“Increased mortality of honey bee colonies has been attributed to several factors but is not fully understood. The herbicide glyphosate is expected to be innocuous to animals, including bees, because it targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, bees rely on a specialized gut microbiota that benefits growth and provides defense against pathogens. … Exposing bees to glyphosate alters the bee gut community and increases susceptibility to infection by opportunistic pathogens. Understanding how glyphosate impacts bee gut symbionts and bee health will help elucidate a possible role of this chemical in colony decline.” [10]

Here is the conclusion of the study for your consideration. “As in many animals, honeybees rely on their gut microbial community for a variety of functions, including food processing, regulation of immune system, and defense against pathogens. Perturbations of this system have the potential to lead to negative consequences for host fitness. We found that glyphosate affects the bee gut microbiota composition and that bacterial species and strains within this community vary in susceptibility to glyphosate. Recent experimental and observational studies have provided evidence that dysbiosis affecting the bee gut can increase susceptibility to pathogen invasion. Our results also suggest that establishment of a normal microbial community is crucial for protection against opportunistic pathogens of honey bees.” [11]

Sounds a lot like the human microbiome and in some ways it is. Human gut microbes actually include a number of the same species as the honeybee. Additionally, the role of these gut microbes in humans also impacts ‘food processing, regulation of immune system, and defense against pathogens.’

How does glyphosate affect the digestive systems of insects? Well, in a similar way that antibiotics disrupt the gut of animal bodies. By attacking the good as well as the bad bacteria and disrupting the natural balance. Additionally, there are added surfactants to glyphosate that break down (ulcerate) the intestinal wall.

Donna Farmer, a Bayer/Monsanto scientist stated under oath that they could not use animal studies for glyphosate because the surfactants in it would irritate the intestines. (Transcript here.) Basically, their studies would never get far enough because the surfactants would irritate and subsequently break down the lining of the gut. The purpose of surfactants is to “enhance the uptake of the active ingredients across the waxy cuticle of plants which means that less herbicide can be applied.” [12]

The word anti means “against,” and “bio” means life. Antibiotic therefore means, “against life.” It works in a similar fashion no matter how it is used. Although patented as an antibiotic, the industry markets glyphosate as a xenobiotic. What is the difference?

The original definition of xenobiotic from the Miriam Webster Medical Dictionary online is: “a chemical compound (such as a drug, pesticide, or carcinogen) that is foreign to a living organism.” This means that xenobiotics are a “chemical compound foreign to a given biological system. It is not made from anything found naturally in an insect’s body (or a animal body for that matter). Let us delve a little deeper.

“With respect to animals and humans, xenobiotics include drugs, drug metabolites, and environmental compounds such as pollutants that are not produced by the body. In the environment, xenobiotics include synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and industrial pollutants that would not be found in nature.” [13] So unlike an antibiotic made from a natural substance like mold, xenobiotics are completely synthesized by toxic industrial pollutants and other chemicals.

A single honeybee that emerges from a cell is born with a sterile “gut.” Its interactions with the other bees, passing nectar and other products back and forth seed the little bee’s gut with the appropriate bacteria for proper digestion. A baby human likewise, has a sterile gut biome. During a vaginal birth, the baby’s gut is seeded with the bacteria of the mother. If a baby is born C-section, the child misses out on this health-promoting gift of the mother, assuming her gut bacteria is even balanced to begin with. A hive that is struggling with their microbiome due to antibiotics and xenobiotics does not easily survive stressors such as winters.

A honey bee colony is not simply a conglomeration of bees as many people think. It is an organism in its entirety. There is a microbiome of the hive of which there are fungi and bacteria that coexist with the bees. When chemicals like antibiotics, fungicides, and pesticides are added to the hive the microbiome is disrupted in a similar manner as the digestive system of a human when they take an antibiotic.

“There are over 8,000 microbes that have been identified (source USDA and Martha Gilliam’s research) that live with bees. Of these only a handful are pathogens. The rest either fill a niche in the ecology of the hive (and therefore crowd out pathogens) or they have an actual beneficial effect. Recent studies have shown some of the mechanisms by which these microbes protect the bees from Nosema, AFB, EFB and chalkbrood and that the preventative treatments for these diseases kill off the very thing that is protecting the bees from those diseases.” [14]

Who doesn’t love essential oils? Yet at the same time, we must respect their potency. Allopathic medicine is reductionistic and seeks to utilize chemicals in an isolated form. In similar fashion, essential oils can be (albeit unwittingly) used in a similarly allopathic manner when added to the hive. As Michael Bush writes in his book The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally, “Essential oils: Kill a broad spectrum of microbes including yeasts, fungus, bacteria and viruses. They are basically the immune system of the plants they are derived from. Essential oils includes thymol, wintergreen, menthol, lemongrass oil, spearmint, peppermint, neem, tea tree etc.” [15]

The addition of essential oils to the hive also disrupts the natural microbiome of the honeybee whether it be internal in their gut microbiome or external in the ecology of the hive, whether it affects a single bee or an entire colony.

A bee colony is not designed to be a filter for environmental toxins such as industrial pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics, xenobiotics, essential oils, other pharmaceuticals, EMFs, etc. All pollutants added to the hive whether by the beekeeper or by the bee as they go about their innate duties are stored within the hive. Anything added to the hive including the Glyphosate the bees collect in nectar and pollen are spread into the wax, into the biological system of each individual bee, and ultimately all throughout the hive.

One headline proclaims:

Weed Killer Residues Found in 98 Percent of Canadian Honey Samples

Then the article begins by saying that this “Study is the latest evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive that residues can be found in foods not produced by farmers using glyphosate.” [16]

A Word to the Wise

Commercially prepared beeswax pastilles are a modern contrivance. To obtain the perfect white color, the wax will have been bleached. While the appearance of the white pastilles may be nice for crafts it is certainly not the quality one would want to use for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. Unfortunately much, if not all of the medicinal benefit of the wax is destroyed by the processing necessary to remove the color.

The Good News!

It is imperative that those utilizing bee products for healing find the cleanest products available. Therefore, to ensure only the highest quality of honeybee products are used, lots of people who might have never considered it before are becoming beekeepers!

Bees can be kept in the city and the suburb, not only in the country. They will happily pollinate your organic flowers, garden, and even weeds indiscriminately. They pay you back in sweet dividends and awesome health-promoting products.

The next best thing to keeping your own bees would be to make friends with a beekeeper that uses natural beekeeping techniques and who does not contaminate their hives with pharmaceutical chemicals. Many beekeepers are looking for property to place some of their hives on. Additionally, most are willing to mentor a ‘new-bee’ and teach them the craft.

It is unfortunate that most community beekeeping classes promulgate conventional beekeeping methods without having so much as a clue to the damage they are causing the bees, the beekeepers, and the unwary folks that use their tainted products. What is exciting, however, is that a new breed of beekeepers is coming forth. Beeks who are excited to care for their bees with the same thoughtful diligence they care for their own bodies. There is hope for the journey ahead.

If you happen to be an herbalist or otherwise crafty sort of person, here are just a few of the many things that can be made with beeswax!

Other Beeswax Products

Cold Cream (& other cosmetics) ~ The first cold cream contained beeswax mixed with olive oil and rosewater. It is thought to have been invented by Galen, a Greek physician in the 2nd century A.D.

Chapstick ~ Nothing soothes and protects chapped lips like a chapstick made with beeswax!

Lubricant ~ Squeaky door hinge? Stuck zipper? Wooden drawer or window that sticks? Take out the beeswax and lube it up.

Got a rusted nut that won’t come off? lube the threads of the bolt with a little melted wax. Rub wax over the threads of screws and they will drive smoothly.

Candles ~ Beeswax candles are truly delightful! The mild natural scent of honey is soothing and relaxing and a beeswax candle will last longer than a comparable candle made of soy or paraffin because it has a higher melting point.

Wax ~ for skis & toboggans, bow strings. Beard and mustache wax.

Reusable Food Wraps ~ For keeping your food fresh without using cellophane or plastic baggies.

Furniture Polish & Sealant for Wood ~ Wonderful for restoring wood furniture, utensils, and cutting boards.

Wood Furniture Polish & Sealant Recipe

Into a double-boiler or wide-mouth pint canning jar add:

  • 1 Part Beeswax (Hint: Use a cheese grater to shred. Melts faster.)
  • 4 to 6 parts Olive Oil (More oil makes for a creamier mixture)

NOTE: Collect old wide-mouth pint jars. You can use one as a double-boiler for your beeswax projects. Put all your ingredients in it and use it as the final container.

DIRECTIONS: Into a small pan or pot with an inch or so of water in it, place the canning jar with the beeswax and oil in it. Turn on the stove a to low-medium heat and allow the mixture to heat up slowly. Turn down if it gets too hot as the water should never boil. Once everything is melted, stir the mixture with a clean stick to combine the ingredients. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then add a lid or pour into a container. Be sure to add a label and date to your jar.

Make a small batch, especially the first time, because the olive oil has potential to go rancid over time. Also, be sure to test on a hidden spot on your wood furniture to make sure you get the effect you would like. Dip a clean rag into the your polish and rub into the wood.

Soap ~ Sometimes also made with honey for a delightful scent!


Waterproofing for Leather ~ Beeswax will darken leather slightly. It is an effective waterproofing agent to apply to leather shoes, boots, hats, and any leather items you would like to make water resistant. Be sure to apply extra wax to any seams. Test on a hidden area first to make sure you get the effect you like. DO NOT USE ON SUEDE! This recipe can also be used on wood

Leather Waterproofing & Conditioner Recipe

Into a double-boiler or wide-mouth pint canning jar add:

  • 2 Parts Castor Oil
  • 2 Parts Almond Oil
  • 1 Part Beeswax (Hint: Use a cheese grater to shred. Melts faster.)
  • 1 Part Cocoa Butter

NOTE: Collect old wide-mouth pint jars. You can use one as a double-boiler for your beeswax projects. Put all your ingredients in it and use it as the final container.

DIRECTIONS: Into a small pan or pot with an inch or so of water in it, place the canning jar with the oils, beeswax, and cocoa butter. Turn on the stove a to low-medium heat and allow the mixture to heat up slowly. Turn down if it gets too hot as the water should never boil. Once everything is melted, stir the mixture with a clean stick to combine the ingredients. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then add a lid or pour into a container. Be sure to add a label and date to your jar.

CAUTION: This is not a leather cleaner! Make sure your leather is clean before applying or any leather waterproofer/conditioner will seal the dirt into the leather.

Rust Preventer ~ Apply a thin coat to shovels, tools, anything metal to prevent rust and corrosion.

Wax Seals ~ In ancient times wax was used to seal documents closed and a signet ring pressed into the wax while it was still soft would identify its official sender.  The wax seal would make the document difficult to open without noticeably “breaking the seal.” This would verify the information within had not been revealed.

The uses for beeswax seem endless. You are likely. For those of us who know and love honeybees and all their wonderful gifts ~ There is nothing they cannot do!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

References

1,2,5 A Closer Look:  Beeswax, Wax Glands

3,9 Facts About Beeswax

4 Beeswax Pastilles

6 Herbal Constituents: Foundations of Phytochemistry by Lisa Ganora

7 Beeswax: A minireview of its antimicrobial activity and its application in medicine

Chemical Cocktail in the Hive – The Bees in Decline

10,11 Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees

12  Glyphosate: What are Surfactants?

13 The Free Dictionary by Farlex: xenobiotic

14,15 The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally

16 Weed Killer Residues Found in 98 Percent of Canadian Honey Samples

Products from the Hive – Part IV: PROPOLIS

Which product of the hive is an amazing immune-booster, cold and flu remedy, and even dental therapy?  If you answered propolis, you are correct!  Propolis helps calm the histamine release associated with seasonal allergies, assists with various dental problems, systemic inflammation, and anywhere antioxidants are needed.

Propolis is one of the most researched honeybee products, second only to honey.  It has been found to be protective of both the liver and the kidney[1,2], beneficial in the treatment of nail fungus[3] and warts, useful in managing the pain of neuropathy[4], is neuroprotective related to systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases[5], and has potential merit in protecting and reducing BPH levels in elderly men.[6]  “Propolis has shown efficacy against brain, head and neck, skin, breast, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, prostate, colon and blood cancers.”[7]  One invitro study found that propolis (Brazilian Green Propolis) kills colon cancer cells.[8]   In a comparative assessment of Columbian samples, propolis was also found to be cytotoxic (antitumor) toward osteosarcoma (bone cancer) cells.[9]

“In fact, Hippocrates noted that propolis is beneficial for promoting wound healing, both internal and external, while Pliny the Elder documented that propolis may be used to treat tumors, muscle pain and ulcers. This bee product was also documented in the Persian manuscripts as a remedy for various conditions, including eczema and rheumatism.”[10]

 

A substance with all these health benefits (and more) warrants consideration by the holistic health professional.  So where does one find propolis?

Well the word ‘propolis’ given by the Greeks, is very telling.  Translated, the “pro” part of pro-polis means ‘before’ while “polis” is the word for city.  Therefore, pro – polis means “coming before” – “the city” of the bees.  That is exactly where this sticky resinous substance is found.  Before the colony of bees.

Industrious little creatures that they are honeybees use this sticky, resinous, antimicrobial substance to coat every bit of the interior of the wood that surrounds their hive chambers.  If there are openings or cracks in the surface surrounding the hive, the bees will fill them with propolis.  No one accesses the interior of a hive without first having to cross this disinfectant, antimicrobial layer.  It indeed comes before the city (dwelling place) of the bees.  But what is propolis?

The amazing substance is called bee propolis or “bee glue,” to which propolis is sometimes referred.  It is yet another amazing substance crafted by honeybees.   In the early spring, especially, honeybees gather a resin-like substance from the buds of poplar and conifer trees.  Honeybees make this substance by mixing beeswax with the resins along with essential oils from plants and their own salivary secretions.

The bees then use propolis to cover the interior of the hive, make repairs, and patch holes.  It is sticky, and caramel to reddish or brownish-colored.  When it freezes it hardens, becomes, brittle, and loses its tackiness.  When it is warm it is pliable, glue-like, and very sticky.  Think… toffee!

There are beekeepers who upon examining a hive early in the spring, have found an expired mouse to be completely encased in propolis.  Apparently, the wary little travelers enter the hive to find warmth in the winter and subsequently died.  The bees (smaller yet) and unable to remove such a large creature from their hive, did the next best thing.  They encased it in propolis to prohibit the decay from adversely affecting the colony within.

To collect propolis, beekeepers scrape it from the interior of the beehives.  If they did not the industrious honeybees would invariably glue everything in the hive together, making it extremely difficult to harvest honey and check on the general health of the hive.

The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, used propolis as a healing medicinal.  “The ancient Jews considered tzori (the Hebrew word for propolis) as a medicine. Tzori and its therapeutic properties are mentioned throughout the Old Testament. The biblical Balm of Gilead (tzori Gilead in Hebrew) is nearly indistinguishable from propolis.”[11] The knowledge of the healing properties of propolis fell into obscurity during medieval times with only limited awareness passed on in traditional folklore.  Fortunately, the lowly beekeeper held the mysteries of the honeybee close to their heart.

It was not much more than a century ago that scientific research on propolis began to prove the healing properties of propolis.  To date over 180 chemical compounds have been identified in propolis and it is a confirmed antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anesthetic agent.

Propolis.  A potent, natural, healer.

 

As an immune-booster, propolis increases the quantity of immune cells along with their immune-boosting activities.  It also increases the production of antibodies, activates and increases the number of macrophages and their responsiveness and ability to kill bacteria.  It also increases natural killer cell activity.

“A number of [cold and flu] symptoms have been found to be relieved with the use of propolis, including fever, headaches, body aches, coughing, and sneezing, demonstrating surprising effectiveness at this. Also a Russian study of 260 patients saw a reduction in sore throats and coughs in 90% of cases.  Propolis “plays well with others” an Israeli study of 400 children revealed.  A combination of propolis, echinacea, and vitamin C were utilized to shorten duration and lessen severity of symptoms.”[12]  It has also been found helpful as an ingredient in a nasal spray for sinus infections.

Propolis “plays well with others.”

 

Other “studies suggest that propolis has positive effects on the regulation of blood sugar by modulating blood lipid metabolism and scavenging for free radicals. This makes propolis a possible alternative for diabetes management.  Propolis may aid in blood sugar regulation, which may be beneficial for diabetes patients. However, it may also pose some dangers, especially when taken in conjunction with diabetes medications, as it may magnify their effect.”[13]

In dental applications propolis resin, warm and pliable, can easily be packed into a tooth.  A small piece of the resin itself can be placed in the mouth near the point of concern and left between the tooth and the cheek.  Propolis tincture is most frequently used as a mouth rinse when addressing inflammation of the gums and for general mouth health.[14]  In an intervention group where patients were given propolis, researchers found that those patients had a significantly lower risk for severe oral mucositis.[15]

There are literally thousands of studies documenting the health benefits of propolis, only a few of which have been presented here.  Like other products of the hive, any chemicals introduced to the hive such as antibiotics, fungicides, miticides, etc., will toxify the entire hive, including the propolis.  Be sure the propolis you use medicinally is high-grade propolis and that chemicals were not used in the keeping of those bees.

Caution:  People with allergies to bee products such as honey or pollen should avoid propolis.  It may contain the same materials that trigger allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis and contact dermatitis

 

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

References:

1 Evaluation of antiproteinuric and hepato-renal protective activities of propolis in paracetamol toxicity in rats
Biochemical and morphological evaluation of the effects of propolis on cisplatin induced kidney damage in rats
Propolis for the Treatment of Onychomycosis
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester attenuates neuropathic pain by suppressing the p38/NF-κB signal pathway in microglia
Connection between Systemic Inflammation and Neuroinflammation Underlies Neuroprotective Mechanism of Several Phytochemicals in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester guards against benign prostate hypertrophy in rats: Role of IGF-1R/protein kinase-B (Akt)/β-catenin signaling

Emerging Adjuvant Therapy for Cancer: Propolis and its Constituents
8  In vitro Cytotoxic Effect of Brazilian Green Propolis on Human Laryngeal Epidermoid Carcinoma (HEp-2) Cells

The Chemical composition and events related to the cytotoxic effects of propolis on osteosarcoma cells

10  Immune System Boosts and Other Impressive Propolis Benefits
11  Historical Aspects of Propolis Research in Modern Times

12 Propolis – Keeping Us Healthy Through Cold & Flu Season

13  Immune System Boosts and Other Impressive Propolis Benefits
14  Dental Herbalism: Natural Therapies for the Mouth by Leslie M. Alexander, PhD, RH (AHG)

15  Propolis Mouthwash Treatment Effectively Eases Severe Oral Mucositis

Products from the Hive – Part III: BEEBREAD

Beebread!  Who knew?  With a name like that it’s not hard to imagine all those little honey bees scurrying around the kitchen wearing their teeny-tiny aprons and their teeny-tiny Toqués.  Yes.  While that is easy to imagine, it is slightly more difficult to shake that image from one’s mind and come back to reality.

Of all the products of the hive, beebread is the least explored and possibly one of the most valuable nutritionally.  Also referred to as “Ambrosia,” which means the food of the gods, or “Perga” translated “tower.”  The terminology denotes the strengthening effect of beebread as it is utilized by the body. » Read more

Products from the Hive – Part II: POLLEN

Pollen is the male seed of the plant located in the flower which is required for fertilization and subsequent seed development.  It consists of a minute particle of 50/1.000-millimeter corpuscles which form at the free end of the stamen. Every flower has pollen and this pollen provides about 40% of the nutritional needs of young bees.

Honey bees practice ‘flower fidelity’ as they only visit one type of flower with each trip from the hive.  This is awesome for pollination!  She (all honey bee workers are sterile females) lands on a flower and begins to moisten the dry pollen with her mouth using nectar carried from the hive in one of her two stomachs.  Each pollen granule has between four and ten million grains of pollen.  Next, the moistened pollen is packed into the “pollen baskets”, the corbiculae (stiff hairs), of her hind legs.  Typically, dry pollen particles stick to the worker bee’s body and catch a ride to the next flower.  In this manner pollination occurs as the bee lands on flower after flower. » Read more

Products from the Hive – Part I: HONEY

Author: Darlene Jorgens

Honey bees belong to the genus Apis mellifera Linnaeus.  They are distinguished by their ability to produce and store great quantities of honey and also make their nests from wax.  Their products are exclusively derived from the nectar, pollen, or resin from plants.  In fact, plants need bees as much as bees need plants, and mankind desperately needs both the bees and the plants for our survival.  Apis mellifera and its symbiotic relationship with both plants and people is an integral part of herbalism. » Read more

A Beekeeper in Mexico…

Snip20160811_1A Beekeeper in Mexico Named Gaudencio and  the Wonders of His Honey 

by Angela Blycker  www.peacefulwomenshealth.com

My husband and I recently took time for an unusual date:  We visited local beekeeper, Señor Gaudencio, in a small town called Nealtican, about a 20 minute drive from our home here in San Pedro Cholula in Puebla, Mexico.

We wanted to learn some of the methods and secrets of Gaudencio’s trade, get personal insight into the benefits of all the properties of honey and of course, purchase some of the pure golden sweetness for ourselves.

Gaudencio greeted us just outside his property, located on the edge of town. His 55-year old eyes twinkled as he shook our hands, obviously pleased that some gringos were sincerely interested in his life’s passion. Delicate purple flowers of spanish jasmine, periwinkle hydrangeas, traditional magenta bougainvillea and a host of other randomly planted flowers and cacti lined his dirt driveway. His simply constructed concrete white house was on the left, his work yard and buildings to the right. We walked to the right, past the small pond filled with floating plants and koi fish and under the makeshift clothesline where fresh laundry hung. The sound of bees filled the air like soft and busy music. I instinctively darted to avoid them, but Gaudencio walked to his shop nonchalantly as if they were his friends and belonged all around him. PDF – A Beekeeper in Mexico…