Friday, July 04, 2008

U.S. Firm Combines Healing Properties of Honey, Elderberries

Pollinate This
Bees team up with elderberries to make a drink that cures
By Alice Levitt, Seven Days (USA), 6/25/2008

…In Europe, you can drink elderberry brandy and even elderflower-flavored Fanta…

Todd Hardie, of Honey Gardens in Ferrisburgh, wants Americans to experience the benefits of elderberries, too. He points to evidence that the old wives’ tale about the power of sambucus (the umbrella name for plants in the elder family) may be true. “Elderberry has the antiviral agents that chemical medicines do not have to get the virus in the common cold,” Hardie says. “You can’t buy chemical medicines at the pharmacy that are effective against the common cold, unless you can get elderberry. It’s very potent.”

As his company’s name indicates, Hardie’s main business is bees, but bees need plants to pollinate, and crops such as elderberries fit the bill. He relates the growth of his apiary in slow cadences that recall the soothing tones of an undertaker but warm up, as he grows comfortable with his interlocutor, to something like a patient paternal figure. Founded 43 years ago, Honey Gardens grew from a hobby to a business when Hardie began to sell raw honey as a homegrown health aid. Health nuts who embraced raw foods in general touted Pooh Bear’s favorite as a cure-all, and Hardie is its number-one proponent. “You can use raw honey on wounds,” he says. “More and more people and hospitals are using raw honey.” As long as it’s kept below 120 degrees Fahrenheit — unlike the processed, filtered product in most stores — honey is a natural antiseptic. “It takes the air out of the wounds and brings to it a wealth of healing properties,” Hardie says.

Elderberries came into the beekeeper’s life when Greensboro orchardist Lewis Hill encouraged him to make a syrup combining the curative qualities of honey and the fruit…

Besides honey, propolis — the natural spackle that bees make from the bark of pine and poplar trees to protect their homes — also has curative mojo. Its resin is rumored to be the source of a Stradivarius’ sweet sound, and recent scientific papers have linked it to antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial effects. Honey Gardens includes propolis in many of its products, including a topical salve, a natural alternative to Neosporin…

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