Monday, January 23, 2017

Apitherapy: Healing with Nature

By Cindy Brown, The Taos News, 1/22/2017

It seems that humans have always been fascinated by bees and the honey they make.

“There’s honey that has been found in Egyptian tombs that is over 3,000 years old and the honey is still edible. Pure, raw honey never goes bad and has an infinite shelf life,” says Melanie Kirby of Zia Queenbees Farm and Field Institute in Truchas.

In addition to eating honey, ancient people used it and other bee products to heal.

“Apis mellifera is the Latin name for honeybees; apitherapy includes various health and wellness components that are derived from a honeybee hive,” says Kirby.

Rock art from the time of the early hunter-gatherers shows the honeybee as a source of medicine, according to the American Apitherapy Society. The use of bee venom as administered either with acupuncture-like needles or direct bee stings was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and China.

“Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the ‘Father of Medicine,’ recognized the healing virtues of bee venom for treating arthritis and other joint problems. Today, growing scientific evidence suggests that various bee products promote healing by improving circulation, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating a healthy immune response,” says the American Apitherapy Society website.

Healing with bees

Not only is the venom from the bee sting employed for healing, but other products made by bees, including honey, wax and pollen, are also used. Propolis, which is made by bees from the resin of trees and other plants, is used to cover the hive to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria. Tinctures made with propolis are used to treat wounds, burns and sore throats. It has been shown to reduce plaque and gingivitis in the mouth and its active components have been documented as fighting inflammation and even cancer.

Scientific studies have begun to be conducted on the effectiveness of bee products in treating disease. Current studies have shown that venom can help regulate thyroid function in women with overactive thyroids. It also enhances the effectiveness of arthritis medication, reduces the swelling of joints due to fluids, speeds the healing of wounds and plays a role in quieting coughs.

A study done in 2009 by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts showed that melittin, one of the 40 healing components identified in bee venom, is both anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic. Bee venom is being used in shots to address rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain and multiple sclerosis – and for reducing the reaction to bee stings in people who are allergic to them.

Apitherapy in Taos

Irena Lerman practices apitherapy in Taos. Originally from Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Lerman traveled in Europe, Asia, northern Africa and Mexico before coming to Taos. She first came into contact with apitherapy when traveling in Siberia, Russia. She says that bee products were used by local beekeepers and there was a notable lack of illness, including arthritis, cancer and other chronic disease...

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