We have all heard about how bees are disappearing, and about how this could mean disaster for our ecosystem. According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, bees pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops and without them, we wouldn’t have apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, as well as feed grains that sustain our beef and dairy industries.
It is obvious that bees are important to our health on a grand scale, but did you know that bees can also be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle on a much more personal level?
Bee venom and HIV prevention and treatment
A recent study by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, showed that bee venom may be an HIV cure and prevention method.
Results showed that bee venom carries a substance called melittin, which has the ability to perforate the protective covering around certain viruses, including HIV.
Most importantly, melittin kills HIV without harming surrounding healthy cells.
Scientists believe that, in the near future, they will be able to create a vaginal gel containing bee venom, which will act as a preventative measure against the spread of HIV.
Bee pollen and your health
In addition to the virus busting properties of bee venom, people have been using bee pollen for thousands of years to treat everything from gastrointestinal complaints to annoying spring allergy symptoms.
If you suffer from allergies, bee pollen may help clear up your “hay fever” symptoms. Many natural practitioners recommend bee pollen for the treatment of allergies under the theory that ingesting small amounts of local allergens will help the body develop a resistance to them, much in the same way that vaccinations build a resistance to infectious diseases.
The International Federation of Beekeepers Association reports that bee pollen may contain antibacterial properties and can be helpful in treating infections, especially those caused by staph and salmonella.
Chinese medicine has long made use of bee pollen in treating skin conditions like eczema and other rashes, including diaper rash, and as a natural cure for acne. Dr. Lars-Erik Essen, a dermatologist from Sweden purportedly uses been pollen supplements to treat his patients’ skin problems. He theorizes that pollen contains nucleic acids that help to stimulate cell renewal and protect the skin’s integrity.
Natural health practitioners around the world have also used bee pollen for centuries to help alleviate arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is thought that, due to its high content of flavonoids, bee pollen acts helps to reduce inflammatory reactions in the body.
Taken as a supplement, bee pollen can help to round out a healthy diet. Bee pollen is rich in protein, containing more free amino acids than more commonly recognized sources like beef, and also contains high levels of carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and minerals. It also contains high levels of flavonoids and phenolic compounds which carry potent antioxidant properties.
People take bee pollen for a number of ailments and conditions, and its numerous health benefits have been passed along anecdotally for thousands of years. Athletes take it to increase stamina. It is purported to help with appetite suppression and weight loss. Bee pollen is an old wives remedy for constipation and stomach complaints.
It is also used by many women around the world to help with bloating, back pain and other PMS symptoms. While proper scientific studies concerning these claims haven’t been completed, the longstanding anecdotal evidence is well worth acknowledging.
We have been hearing for years about how the honey bee population is dwindling. Studies show that the disappearance of bees can be linked to the use of common pesticides. We are well aware that we need to stop killing bees to ensure the healthy of our ecosystem and the food chain. We now have impressive evidence that the health of the bee population may also be inextricably tied to our health on a personal level and could have astounding implications for curing previously seemingly incurable disease.