Dr. Weeks’ Comment: This is not news to my patients but it is gratifying to find that more people are coming to appreciate apitherapy – medicine from the hive.
Not just a possible alternative – but totally a preferable alternative to antibiotics whenever possible. People are already using this incredible healing substance without having needed a nod of approval from researchers. And no, we’re not talking about using the actual bees.
While consumers of raw honey can tell you that it works wonders, researchers wanted to know exactly why? What have they been missing? What are the exact compounds that make raw honey nature’s antibiotic? How has it protected bee colonies forever (until recent obstacles set in)?
Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey – as we now know it – was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its antimicrobial properties?
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.
These lactic acid bacteria have now been tested on severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others. When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to the pathogens in the laboratory, it counteracted all of them.
While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria has been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds. The LAB was mixed with honey and applied to ten horses; where the owners had tried several other methods to no avail. All of the horses’ wounds were healed by the mixture.
The researchers believe the secret to the strong results lie in the broad spectrum of active substances involved. This is the benefit to using a whole substance, as complex natural compounds have only begun to be studied as a complete package.
Tobias Olofsson explains:
Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria. When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat. It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees’ health and honey against other harmful microorganisms. However, since store-bought honey doesn’t contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times,
The next step is further studies to investigate wider clinical use against topical human infections as well as on animals. The findings have implications for developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, but also for Western countries where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing.
There is a shocking difference between raw honey and pasteurized, grocery store “teddy-bear” honey which for all intents and purposes, is mostly fake. Raw honey will look more like butter, but there also benefits to consuming darker honeys. Not only have people seen results from applying raw honey to wounds and mild burns, but also in use for acne, sore throats and flues, allergies, better blood sugar regulation, cholesterol and more.
Of course research like this would appear now, when we’re at the height of honey bee decline (especially when taking into account increased food production needs) and the height of food system deception.
Those are just a few reasons why it’s more important than ever to love thy pollinator – and realize that this liquid gold is your most cherishable non-perishable.