Saturday, April 02, 2011

Article Outlines Health Benefits of Bee Products

Jury’s Out on Honey’s Health Benefits, But Buzz Grows By Kim Mulford, (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post, 3/28/2011

CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used it. So did your grandmother. But modern medicine hasn’t fully recognized the health benefits of honey and other bee products.

Few well-controlled studies have been done on the effectiveness of apitherapy, or the medical use of honey, beeswax, bee pollen, bee venom, royal jelly or propolis (a resin-like substance used in the construction of hives).

According to the American Apitherapy Society, no medical group in the United States has sanctioned apitherapy as a medical treatment, though the Food and Drug Administration has approved bee venom for “de-sensitization.”

“Apitherapy is considered, from both the legal and medical viewpoint, an experimental approach,” the organization says.

No matter. The buzz about the benefits of the honeybee has been growing, from slurping down honey as a remedy for allergies and colds to injecting bee venom as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Honey itself has antimicrobial properties. It does not spoil.

Seth Belson, president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, says he sells a lot of raw honey to repeat customers who take it for their seasonal allergies.

The Cherry Hill, N.J., resident and public defender collects the amber gold from his 10 hives. The honey must be raw, he stresses, so the pollens aren’t altered…

Honey may be useful in treating wounds and burns because of its antibacterial properties.

Propolis, the hard, sticky material honeybees use to maintain and build their hives, also is edible. Belson melts it and puts it in his tea to ease a sore throat.

Gathered from tree sap, propolis looks like brown paste or putty. It has a nutty flavor and smells like flower nectar.

“It really does seem to have a significant effect,” Belson says. “It’s amazing stuff.”…

Bee venom is believed to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Some medical practitioners use it as a therapy for painful conditions like multiple sclerosis and arthritis. However, some people may be allergic to bee stings, so the therapy should be administered by a trained professional, the American Apitherapy Society suggests.

As a beekeeper, Belson sometimes suffers a few stings when collecting honey from his hives. But when he’s hit, he says a side effect is the temporary easing of his arthritis pain in his knees…

Carefully collected, pollen is a protein source for bees, and can be eaten by humans as a food additive.

Beeswax is frequently used in lip balm, cosmetics and hand creams. And royal jelly, the substance fed to the larvae designated to become the queen bee, also has benefits that aren’t fully known.

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