I’ve written before about the plight of bees. They’re dying off by the millions and then some of them come back from the dead. Yes, Virginia, there are zom-bees. And I’m sure you’ve heard the old trope that if the bees disappear then all life will perish in four years. Sadly, unlike other old tropes, that one’s true. Without bees pollinating the flowers that grow plants our little planet will go fallow. With no food for anyone to eat we’ll all die. It’s really that simple. As Safa Motesharrei, of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, pointed out in March of this year, at our current rate of environmental destruction we only have a few decades left before we cross the tipping point. That was before science noticed that those gaping holes erupting all over the arctic circle are methane factories of doom that could shorten that timeline to something around 2035 or so. Most of you reading this will long enough to die horrible deaths.
I’m just a font of fun, aren’t I?
The thing is that it’s all correctable and could reap huge benefits for all of us if we got our heads out of our asses …. well, if the anti-vaccers and science deniers got their heads out of their asses. My head has no brown rim. In fact it even smells good too.
I don’t want this to go on forever or go off the rails so I’ll focus on one simple thing. Scientists have known for millenia that honey has medicinal effects that cause healing. It’s been used on open wounds since before the second dynasty of Egypt.
And, guess what? It helps you heal.
Now, before you run out and buy gallons of that stuff that comes in the cute bottles at your local Wal-Mart, be advised that there are some restrictions.
Lisa Winter, over at I Fucking Love Science, has the whole story.
With antibiotic resistance on the rise, alternative methods for fighting pathogens are in high demand, even if it means going back to basics. Honey has been used to treat wounds for thousands of years, long before microorganisms had been discovered. Recently, researchers have identified 13 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) found within raw honey from different bee species that have effectively treated some of the most antimicrobial-resistant pathogens afflicting humans today. The research was led by Tobias Olofsson of Lund University and the paper was published in the International Wound Journal.
Honey that is sold commercially has typically been exposed to heat, pasteurization, and processing in order to kill any yeast and prevent fermentation. While this treatment that makes the honey safer and more shelf-stable, it also gets rid of the honey’s benefits, including antimicrobial and antihistamine properties. Raw, unrefined honey that has the most benefits will come directly from beekeepers, though some specialty shops may have it available.
Olofsson’s team tested raw honey’s mettle against antimicrobial-resistant pathogens including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). They discovered that while the 13 LAB work individually, they also produced additional antibacterial compounds when combined. The LAB mixture was able to curb all 14 bacterial strains used in the study.
In addition to killing pathogens in the lab, the team also used the LAB mixture on horses who had experienced chronic wounds that have not responded to conventional treatments. All ten horses who received the mixture topically experienced wound healing.
“Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria,” commented Olofsson in a statement. “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 researchers will continue to study raw honey, in hopes of identifying all of the possible clinical uses for the antibacterial properties. Fresh honey can be found pretty much all over the world, which would be a fantastic option for those living in developed or remote areas where healthcare is minimally available. Additionally, this approach could potentially be integrated into medical facilities as a treatment for those facing drug-resistant pathogens.
So there you have it. To make honey more profitable we have removed all the beneficial effects from it. Well, except for the easily digestible sugars. So, go ahead and sweeten your tea accordingly. Your pancreas will thank you.
But aside from that the crap you buy at Whole Foods, or Wal-Mart, is essentially worthless.
So here’s the deal. If we are ever to combat our growing problems with antibiotics and wean people off of the man-made alternatives we need to save the bees.
That means no transgenic seeds (bye Monsanto!), no pesticides that leak into the soil, no plants that are designed to kill insects.
Just FYI, for those of you new to reality, bees are insects too.