Try These Medicines Made by Bees! 

As a former (and hopefully future) beekeeper, I have a fondness for bees. Beekeeping itself is good medicine—and not that hard to do. I find being around bees and watching their activity to be relaxing and interesting. But there are easier ways to get health benefits from bees. Bee products with natural medicinal value…*

Honey. I like to use honey instead of sugar as a sweetener because it metabolizes slowly, reducing the “sugar rush” and subsequent crash people often experience when consuming “regular” sugar. Also, honey has some nutritional value that sugar lacks—it contains potassium and magnesium, B vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. Both honey and sugar are composed of fructose and glucose, but honey contains the enzymes needed to break down these compounds, making it easier for the body to digest and less irritating to the stomach. Honey soothes respiratory inflammation from a sore throat, cough or bronchitis. Add one teaspoon of honey to a cup of tea (I like slippery elm and mullein for respiratory ailments).

Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, honey also can be used topically for healing wounds, burns and eczema. Simply smooth some honey over a wound, burn or patch of dry, scaly skin, then cover it with dry, sterile gauze. Change the gauze, and reapply honey daily until the area is healed. See your doctor for a deep wound or if you have signs of infection such as redness and/or swelling.

Best types of honey:To get the full benefits of honey, your best bet is to use raw, unpasteurized honey (check the label). For topical use, consider Manuka honey, a type of honey made by bees using the nectar from the wild manuka bush found in New Zealand. Manuka honey is available in most natural-food stores.

Pollen is primarily used to treat mild seasonal allergies. The theory is that ingesting very small amounts of pollen, made from plants to which one is mildly allergic, will improve tolerance to those plants—similar to the way allergy shots or homeopathic allergy remedies work.  

To use as an allergy medicine, pollen must be obtained from plants grown in your environment, which you can obtain from a local natural-food store or from a beekeeper directly. I typically recommend taking one-quarter teaspoon of bee pollen granules daily for a month or more before allergy season begins. You can sprinkle it on cereal or toast or add to yogurt or smoothies.

Propolis is a resinlike material that bees produce to protect their hives. It’s made from saliva, beeswax and material gathered from trees, including aspen, birch and poplar. I combine tinctures of propolis and slippery elm in a 50:50 ratio to make a soothing sore throat medicine. Spray this mix on the back of your throat every two hours as needed. You can also buy this premade in natural-food stores. 

*Caution: While allergic reactions to honey, pollen or propolis are rare, consuming these products may not be advisable for those with severe plant allergies. All of these products contain some pollen, which comes from plants. Honey should never be given to children younger than one-year-old due to the risk for botulism poisoning. 

*Caution: While allergic reactions to honey, pollen or propolis are rare, consuming these products may not be advisable for those with severe plant allergies. All of these products contain some pollen, which comes from plants. Honey should never be given to children younger than one-year-old due to the risk for botulism poisoning.