Natural Remedies for Immunity
Bee Propolis and Honey
Using honey as a medicine dates back to ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, and China. It is an important remedy in Ayurvedic Medicine in India.
Modern research has verified several antibacterial applications of honey and
A number of recent studies have shown that externally applied honey can prevent a broad range of bacterial infections and promote healing in surgical and burn patients (who are at high risk of infection). Honey often works even better than antibiotics.
When burn victims were treated with a honey-soaked gauze they healed in about half the time and with half the scar tissue of patients treated conventionally. (1) Unprocessed honey was found to inhibit most of the fungi and bacteria causing surgical and wound infections. Honey is an important medicine in Ayurvedic and eastern medicine. Now, researchers in west also suggest that it my be an ideal topical wound dressing agent in surgical infections, burns and wound infections. (2)
Honey's usefulness in bacterial infection control has been thoroughly recorded in folk medicine.
Several clinical studies verify these folk medicine applications. Gastric ulcers are caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. One of the folk remedy applications of honey is in the treatment of dyspepsia (stomach upset). In a controlled experiment at New Zealand, honey was found to stop the growth of H. pylori colonies in only three days. (3) Other studies have demonstrated that honey inhibits the growth of dangerous bacteria. (4)
Propolis is the part the beehives are made of. Bees create it by collecting a resinous sap from trees, then mixing it with wax. Propolis contains a rich variety of potent polyphenols and flavonoids, including terpenes and benzoic, caffeic, and cinnamic acids.
Research suggests that propolis is a powerful natural antibiotic. Propolis extracts stopped the growth of S. aureus in China. (5) It enhanced the antistaph activity of some pharmaceutical antibiotics in European trials, including streptomycin. (6) It is also useful in inhibiting the activity of several streptococci species involved in dental caries.
Clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of antibiotic properties of propolis found that propolis is equal to or slightly more effective than two common antibiotics, erythromycin and amoxicillin, in killing Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis bacteria.
Unlike antibiotics, propolis is also effective against viruses. Propolis was found to be useful in fighting upper respiratory infections, such as those caused by the common cold and influenza viruses. (7) It may also play a role in preventing colon cancer. Propolis extracts prevented the formation of precancerous tissues in rats after exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. (8)
Honey is an important medicinal substance in Ayurvedic medicine. Honey and propolis are useful in protecting from many bacterial and viral infections. You can derive the antimicrobial benefits of honey by using it as a sweetener.
Propolis capsules may be taken as a supplement to give a boost to your immune system and as a concentrated natural antibiotic.
Do not give honey or any other bee food to an infant under one year of age. Honey contains dangerous spores that an infant's immature immune system cannot fight. These spores are not a problem for the immune systems of older, healthy children and adults. (9)
1. Subrahmanyam, M., "Honey-lmpregnated Gauze versus Amniotic Membrane in the Treatment of Burns," Burns, August 1994; 20:331-333.
2. Efram, S. E., et al., "The Antimicrobial Spectrum of Honey and Its Clinical Significance," Infection, July-August 1992; 20:227-229.
3. Al Somal, N., et al., "Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to the Antibacterial Activity of Manuka Honey," Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, January 1994; 87:9-12.
4. Zumla, A., and Lulat, A., "Honey-A Remedy Rediscovered," Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, July 1989; 82:384-385.
5. Qiao, Z., and Chen, R., "Isolation and Identification of Antibiotic Constituents of Propolis from Henan," China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica, August 1991; 16:481-482.
6. Krol, W., et al., "Synergistic Effect of Ethanolic Extract of Propolis and Antibiotics on the Growth of Staphylococcus aureus," Arzneimittel-Forschung, May 1993; 43:607-609.
7. Focht, J., et al., "Bactericidal Effect of Propolis In Vitro against Agents Causing Upper Respiratory Tract Infections," Arzneimittel-Forschung, August 1993; 43:921-923.
8. Rao, C. V., et al., "Inhibitory Effect of Caffeic Acid Esters on Azoxymethane-Induced Biochemical Changes and Aberrant Crypt Foci Formation in Rat Colon," Cancer Research, September 15, 1993; 53:1482-1488.
9. Richard P. Huemer MD., and Jack Challem, "Natural Health Guide to Beating the Supergerms," Pocket Books, New York, 1997.