Natural Cold & Flu Fighters
We are only midway in the 8-week flu cycle, and already North America is in the midst of a flu outbreak. In the United States, were an estimated 24,000 deaths occur annually due to flu, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms that, this year, flu has reached epidemic levels with 7.3 percent of deaths now attributed to influenza as more virulent strains such as H3N2 appear which make people sicker, longer. In Canada, Health Canada's FluWatch has reported 69 pediatric and 26 adult cases requiring hospitalization. With such statistics, no wonder there's demand for this year's flu vaccine. However, vaccines are only affective against specific flu strains and not other influenza-like illnesses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which is often confused with flu. For greater influenza protection and to build immunity, more people are choosing to use natural remedies such as honey to fight bacterial and viral infections, reduce inflammation, ease gastrointestinal distress and soothe sore throats, coughs and colds.
Honey - A Natural Flu Fighter
An easily digestible carbohydrate, pure unprocessed honey has many health benefits. To start, honey has a low glycemic load (around 9-10 points per tablespoon) which helps reduce blood glucose levels and modulate the body's glycemic response. Pure honey appeals to our sweet tooth, tastes good, and is well-tolerated by both children and adults. Honey also contains minerals, proteins, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and polyphenolic flavonoids. Research suggests that the flavonoids along with the hydrogen peroxide derived from honey glucose accounts for the antibacterial, anti inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic and antimicrobial properties. Current literature suggests that the health promoting properties of raw honey can be realized at doses of 50 to 80g or 5-8 teaspoons daily. Combining honey with bee propolis or with black seed, gives the body an extra dose of energy: 20g of honey providing 3% of daily energy needs, as well extra disease-fighting potential as evidenced by the following research on propolis and black seed.
Honey & Propolis - Bee on Guard with Bee Guard
Bee glue or propolis has been used since antiquity to treat chronic backache, hip pain, muscle and tendon injuries, and skin diseases. Over 300 compounds including polyphenols, coumarins, amino acids, steroids and inorganic components have been isolated in propolis. It is the high flavonoid content of propolis that authors of a 1995 study suggested was responsible for reducing acute and chronic rhino-pharyngeal symptoms among preschool and school-aged children. Those children given an aqueous propolis extract during that year's cold and flu season, also had reduced microbial flora in the upper airway tract. An added bonus: the children loved the taste! Recent 2012 research also shows that propolis extracts and propolis-based pharmaceuticals are effective against Candida and antibiotic multi-resistant Gram-positive bacteria. A 2012 in vitro study on 20 different Cuban propolis extracts showed propolis inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Trichophyton rubrum at low µg/mL concentrations. It was also effective against Leishmania, Trypanosoma and Plasmodium protozoa. The most exciting research is using propolis as an adjuvant to flu vaccines. A 2012 animal study on chickens given a propolis adjuvant along with inactivated avian influenza and Newcastle vaccines showed that propolis enhanced the immune effect of these vaccines. Another 2012 study confirmed that a propolis adjuvant increased a vaccine's immunogenicity and ensured long-term protection.
Honey and Black Seed
Build Immunity with ImmunoBee
Traditionally, Nigella sativa (black seed) has been used to build immunity and fight infections. Research on black seed's active compound, thymoquinone (TQ), confirm its antimicrobial efficacy. In a 2011 study, TQ was shown to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus at concentrations of 300 mg/ml. In another 2011 study, TQ was shown to inhibit 11 strains of human pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and epidermidis. This study also showed improved cellular oxidative activity with TQ supplementation. Other health-promoting properties of TQ are validated in a 2005 study which indicated improved antioxidant effects through an enhanced oxidant scavenger system and potent anti-inflammatory effects via T cell and natural killer cell-mediated immune responses. Lastly, a 2010 study evaluating the efficacy of black seed in eradicating H. pylori infection in non-ulcer dyspeptic patients showed anti-helicobacter activity in vitro. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a cause in chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. References: Alvarez-Suarez , et. al. Honey as a Source of Dietary Antioxidants: Structures, Bioavailability & Evidence of Protective Effects Against Human Chronic Diseases.Curr Med Chem. 2012 Dec 28. PMID:23298140 Monzote L, Cuesta-Rubio O, et. al, In vitro antimicrobial assessment of Cuban propolis extracts. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2012 Dec;107(8):978-84 Farooqui T, Farooqui AA. Beneficial effects of propolis on human and neurological diseases.Front Biosci 2012 Jan 1;4:779-93. PMD:22201913 Crisan I, Zaharia, CN, et. al Natural propolis extract NIVCRISOL in the treatment of acute and chronic rhinopharyngitis in children.Rom J Virol. 1995 Jul-Dec; 46(3-4):115-33. PMID:9179964 Fan Y, Wang, D. et. al. Adjuvanticty of epimedium polysaccharide-propolis flavone on inactivated against AI and ND virus.Int J Biol Macromol 2012 Dec;51(5):1028-32. Ashry el SH, Ahmad TA. The use of propolis as vaccine's adjuvant. Vaccine. 2012 Dec 17;31(1):31-9. PMID:23137844 Orsatti CL, Sforcin JM. Propolis immunomodulatory activity on TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression by chronically stressed mice.Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(5):446-53. Salem EM, Yar T, et. al. Comparative study of Nigella Sativa and triple therapy in eradication of Helicobacter Pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul-Sep;16(3):207-14. PMID:20616418 Salem ML. Immunomodulatory and therapeutic properties of the Nigella sativa L. seed. Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 Dec;5(13-14):1749-70. PMID: 16275613 Bakathir HA, Abbas NA. Detection of the antibacterial effect of Nigella sativa ground seeds with water. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(2):159-64. PMID:22238497 Chaieb K, Kouidhi B, et. al. Antibacterial activity of Thymoquinone, an active principle of Nigella sativa and its potency to prevent bacterial biofilm formation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Apr 13;11:29. PMID: 21489272.
Note: This article should not be considered substitutes for professional medical care and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any specific disease and is for informational purposes only. Bee products may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, consult your health care practitioner for guidance.