top of page

Have You Tried Medicines From the Hive?

podcast cover: Have You Tried Medicines From the Hive?

Season 2 of the Science of Self-Healing Podcast has a NEW host! Please welcome Dr. James Odell, the Medical and Executive Director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years.

Join us in this fascinating episode as James Odell shares his knowledge about the captivating world of bee products – honey, bee pollen, royal honey, and propolis. With a history spanning over 40 million years, honeybees have perfected the art of creating a variety of potent and natural substances, each boasting remarkable medicinal properties for better health and wellbeing. 

Discover the nutritional treasure trove within these bee products, rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, and bioactive compounds found nowhere else on Earth. From their antimicrobial and antibacterial potential to their anti-cancer, cardioprotective, immune-boosting, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic properties (and so much more), Dr. Odell explains the secrets hidden in the hive. 

You wouldn’t want to miss out on this enlightening exploration of nature's pharmacy, where the smallest creatures yield the mightiest remedies!

Transcript: Have You Tried Medicines From the Hive?

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI. We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal. I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years. And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started.

In this podcast I'll discuss bee products, honeybee products or medicines of the hive. Honeybees are master chemists and chemical engineers. Their 40 million year success in the animal kingdom is largely because of the chemistry and application of their products, honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax, and honeybee venom.

 In this podcast, I'm going to be mainly talking about honey, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis. I'm going to not talk about honeybee venom because that's really a very detailed subject and I'm going to leave it for next time. The bees themselves chemically synthesize three of these bee products, beeswax, venom, and royal jelly. The other three are derived from plants and are modified and engineered by the bees for their use. Let's start with honey. Honey was almost the only source of sugar available to people in ancient times and it was highly valued for its medicinal benefits. 

Let's start with honey. 

Honey was almost the only source of sugar available to people in ancient times and it was highly valued for its medicinal benefits. It was used to make mead, a fermented beverage, and it was mixed with wine and other alcoholic drinks. In Egypt, it was also employed as an embalming material. In New Zealand, it was a long standing reputation of a manuka honey for its antiseptic properties that prompted the laboratory investigations that led to it being found that it had an unusual antibacterial component. In laboratory studies where multiple honeys have been tested against the same strain of bacteria, up to one hundredfold difference in antibacterial potency has been found. Aside from its long use as a sweetener in medicine, honey has evolved into other commercial uses such as cosmetics, meat packing, and even curing tobacco. Since humans first began keeping bees, their principal aim has been to harvest the honey. Thus, beekeeping methods have been adapted to accommodate colony behavior. Some success has been achieved in the manipulation of colonies to capitalize on certain behavioral traits, but honey bees still must be considered wild and not domestic creatures. Ninety percent of the world's beekeeping live in Europe, Russia, Asia and Africa and produce 54% of the world's honey. The current world population is around 9 billion. It is estimated that there are 500 times more honey bees than people. As you know, honey is more than just a sweet treat. It's an amazing example of nature's intricate process. In the United States, researchers analyzed nearly 500 honey samples and uncovered a composition comprising approximately 69% fructose, glucose, 8% other sugars, and 17% water. These samples also contain traces of free acids, lactones, ash, nitrogen, and small quantities of amino acids, phenols, vitamins, and pigments. 

Did you know that the color of honey serves as a unique identifier? The dark varieties often originate from flowers with a deeper pigment, like buckwheat, chestnut, and wildflower varieties, which tend to contain higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidants, adding to their nutritional value. But what is really interesting about honey is that it's a carrier for the healing properties of the plants. Take manuka honey, for instance. It has the attention of scientists for its antimicrobial and antioxidant superpowers from a compound in it called methylglyoxal, or MgO. Crafted from the Manaku tree in New Zealand and Australia, it has been a go-to remedy for infections and wounds for ages. Currently, researchers are diving deep into the bioactive compounds in the Manaku honey to unravel its secrets. The goal? To unlock its potential for new and improved treatments for a variety of issues besides the common use, such as allergies, sore throat, and cough relief. So let's explore more obscure, magical medicinal properties in detail. 

Let's start with honey's use for gastrointestinal issues. 

Some honey varieties have prebiotic properties that can do wonders for gut health. They can slash harmful bacteria, boost beneficial ones like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, and maintain a happy microbial balance. Honey's oligosaccharides are like fuel for the good bugs in the gut, leading to a production of metabolites that support metabolic function and overall gut harmony, thus improving your intestinal microbiome. Moreover, Manaku honey might be the key to calming the storm of ulcerative colitis. Studies suggest that its anti-inflammatory properties can target the immune response related to inflammation. Experimental studies even show its potential to rival conventional treatments, making it a promising ally in the fight against colon inflammation. 

Moving forward, honey has also been researched for its ability to treat metabolic issues. 

Metabolic syndrome encompasses a group of conditions like obesity, diabetes mellitus, various increases in lipids, and hypertension. Research studies suggest that honey holds protective properties against metabolic syndrome. With its low glycemic index, honey helps regulate blood sugar and curbs excess weight gain. Moreover, it adds in improving lipid metabolism by lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low density lipoproteins, or LDL, while boosting HDL, thereby reducing the risk of atherogenesis. Honey also enhances insulin sensitivity, stabilizing blood glucose levels and safeguarding the pancreas from insulin resistance. Its antioxidant abilities combat oxidative stress, which is a central mechanism in metabolic syndrome, while also protecting vascular health by protecting the blood vessel linings. This highlights the potential of honey supplementation as a sweet way of managing metabolic syndrome, offering both preventative and additional therapeutic advantages. 

Most studies have suggested that consuming about one to two tablespoons of honey per day can provide beneficial effects in managing metabolic syndrome. 

Now let's talk about honey's most promising role in treating burns and wounds.

When it comes to wound care, honey may soon be the treatment of choice. It clears up infections fast, even in stubborn wounds that resist regular treatments. It helps shrink wounds, battles bacteria, and speeds up the healing process better than some alternatives. And as a bonus, it calms inflammation and prevents further tissue damage. Currently, scientists are actively researching the use of different types of honey in combinations with compounds like silver nanoparticles, black cumin seed oil, black seed oil gels, and nanoparticle fibers to improve wound healing and outcome. 

You can treat skin wounds with medicinal grade honey by first thoroughly cleansing the wound and removing any debris or bacteria, and then applying honey directly to the wound and surface and covering it. Pretty interesting, right? 

So, building on the idea that honey is great for wounds and healing, let's talk about its antibacterial and antiviral properties for a minute. While all types of honey have some level of antibacterial activity, certain varieties, such as the manuka honey, are particularly effective against different resistant strains of staphylococcus. Manuka honey has been shown to wipe out resistant strains of staphylococcus and colonize wounds and stop it in its tracks. In lab tests because it contains a simple compound called methylglyoxal or MGO that contributes to its potent antimicrobial properties. 

Recent research also highlights honey's ability to combat a wide range of bacteria, including other antibiotic resistant strains. 

And lastly, let's talk about honey's role as a potential cancer treatment.

In the realm of cancer research, honey has emerged as a potent ally, boasting an impressive array of properties. Its role as an immune booster, anti-inflammatory agent, and antimicrobial warrior has captured the attention of scientists worldwide. Perhaps most intriguing is honey's potential as an anti cancer treatment. Studies have revealed its ability to influence the development and progression of cancers like melanomas, colorectal and breast cancers, instilling hope in the fight against these formable diseases. From calming down inflammation to disrupting cancer cell signals pathways, honey reveals its versatility in cancer treatment. While the precise mechanisms remain a subject of ongoing investigation, it is believed that honey's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties lie at the heart of its ability to thwart cancer initiation, progression, and promotion. 

But before we move on, it's essential to highlight the issue of honey adulteration with a variety of sucrose syrups like high fructose corn syrup, which can compromise its quality. 

To ensure you're getting genuine honey, opt for locally sourced varieties as they are not only less likely to be adulterated, but also may help alleviate allergy symptoms. Avoid honey sourced from multiple countries. Prioritize dark colored options and if you see crystals forming is generally a sign of authenticity. In addition, if you're buying Manaku honey, you could look on the label to see if it's mono-floral, and if it has a UMF seal of authenticity. Additionally, it is important to note that honey should not be given to infants under one year of age. Basically, it's best to buy raw, unfiltered honey from a local beekeeper. 

So let's shift gears and discuss bee pollen. 

You can think of bee pollen as nature's multivitamin. It is a fascinating substance that powers nutritional punch and is not only a crucial food for bees, but also nutritional powerhouse for humans. Collected by honeybees as they forage on the flowers. Bee pollen consists of tiny granules that are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These granules are formed when the pollen from the flowers stick to the bees bodies and are transported back to the hive. Once inside, the bees mix the pollen with nectar and enzymes, creating a highly nutritious mixture that serves as a primary food for the hive. Bee pollen is also known to contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It is loaded with vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, bee pollen is packed with antioxidants which could help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation. This nutritional powerhouse has been used for centuries in traditional medicines for its potential health benefits, ranging from boosting immunity and improving energy levels to aiding in digestion and just basically promoting overall wellness. 

So let's get to the specifics regarding the medicinal uses of pollen. Recent studies have shown that pollen extracts possess anti-inflammatory and immune regulating properties, which could have implications for conditions such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. Although it can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, that is rare. Additionally, pollen's antioxidant content may contribute to its anti-aging effects, improving gut health, and protecting against chronic diseases like cardiovascular disorders and cancers. 

Clinical trials conducted on rats and rabbits have revealed its remarkable ability in reducing cholesterol levels and striking reductions seen in plasma, lipids, and triglycerides, all thanks to its hormone regulating abilities. These findings were not just limited to lab settings, real world trials echoed similar success stories, showing substantial drops in lipid levels and cholesterol among patients struggling with hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. 

Furthermore, pollen boasts impressive hypoglycemic properties thanks to its special blend of unsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, and phytosterols. This unique concoction holds promise for those battling diabetes, offering a natural remedy with potentially perks for blood sugar management. 

In addition, pollen demonstrates detoxifying powers, shielding your liver from the harm caused by all the environmental toxins we're exposed to and certain medications. But that's not all. Its adaptogenic abilities rev up your physical and mental resistance, while its nutrient rich profile turns it into a top notch dietary supplement that promotes vitality and longevity. 

Bee pollen supplements come in a variety of forms, including capsules, tablets, granules, and powder. The most common way to take bee pollen supplements is orally, usually with water or juice. You can swallow the capsules or tablets whole, or you could open them up and mix the contents with food or beverages. Bee pollen may be also added to things like yogurt or cereal or salads, or blended into smoothies and shakes. Most people prefer to let the granules dissolve under their tongue for faster absorption into the bloodstream. 

The dosage of bee pollen supplements can vary depending on individual needs and the specific product instruction, so it is essential to follow the recommended dose provided by the manufacturer or consult with a healthcare professional for personal advice. Again, it is essential to start with a small dose, start with a small dose, and monitor it for any adverse effects, especially if you have pollen allergies or sensitivity. Though bee pollen is different from the pollen that's floating around in the air because of the enzymes that the bees have mixed in with it, it's usually not allergenic, not like what you're expecting. 

With its array of therapeutic perks, pollen is a natural powerhouse, offering comprehensive support for both your body and your mind. 

Well, next up we have royal jelly. 

This is the food of the queens and a treasure trove of nutrients, produced by worker bees to nourish the queen bee, royal jelly is rich in proteins, vitamins (particularly B-complex vitamins), minerals, and unique bioactive compounds like royalactin and 10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA). Some of these have never been found anywhere else in nature. 

What sets royal jelly apart is its unique composition, containing very special compounds believed to confer various health benefits from boosting immunity and promoting skin health to enhancing cognitive function and supporting reproductive health, royal jelly has garnered attention for its potential therapeutic properties. Revered for centuries for its purported antiaging effects and overall wellness support, royal Jelly continues to fascinate scientists and health enthusiasts.

 So what are the medicinal uses of royal jelly? 

Well, studies have shown that royal jelly exhibits various pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, immune regulating, neuroprotective and anticancer effects. Research shows that royal jelly may enhance cognitive function in memory, making it a potentially therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. 

Furthermore, royal jelly's antioxidant properties may contribute to its antiaging effects and protection against oxidative stress and its related conditions. While more clinical studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms of royal jelly health benefits, its nutritional profile and bioactive constituents hold promise for future use. 

Last, but not least, let's talk about propolis. 

Propolis is referred to as the “bee glue". It is the resinous substance that is meticulously collected by honeybees from tree buds and sap, and it's a botanical source rich in bioactive compounds. Once gathered, bees mix this resin with their salivary secretions and beeswax, transforming it into a versatile substance used within the hive for structural reinforcement of the hive, but also sterilization and defense against pathogens. Propolis is a complex mixture of bioactive compounds, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, terpenes, and aromatic compounds. Its composition varies depending on the geographic condition or location where it was sourced. Like some pollen that's sourced in the Amazon may be green, whereas others can be more of a lighter color. Noteworthy constituents like artepillin C and others contribute to its pharmacological properties, such as microbial, anti inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. 

The Medicinal Uses of Propolis

The history of propolis spans millennia with ancient civilizations. Recognizing its therapeutic potential from the Greek physician Hippocrates prescribing it for healing wounds to the Romans and Egyptians using it for various medicinal properties, propolis has long been revered as a natural remedy. Its presence in the religious text and archaeological findings further supports its significance in ancient cultures. 

Well, let's wrap up by diving into the medicinal wonders of propolis, starting with its antibacterial and antiviral capabilities. 

Packed with potent compounds, it is a fierce defender against a whole army of invaders, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and maybe even parasites. Its natural antibiotics properties with its ability to halt pathogenic growth and speed up the healing of wounds. Plus, it's a skin saver, revving up enzyme systems and collagen production to fast track healing and regenerate tissues.

And it’s probably no surprise that it also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. 

Thanks to its flavonoids and other compounds, it is good for inflammatory woes, tackling everything from arthritis to gastrointestinal issues like ulcers and infections.

Now, let's delve into its immune-boosting and cardiovascular benefits.

 It's more than just fighting against invaders. It acts as a catalyst for the immune system, stimulating robust responses and bolstering antibody properties. Additionally, it plays a vital role in cardiovascular health, regulating blood pressure, and providing essential cellular protection. 

Last but not least, let's talk cancer-fighting potential. 

Compounds like caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and artepillin C are shown promise against the battle against cancer modulating immune responses and halting tumor growth. 

Prophyla supplements come in a range of forms and suit different preferences and needs. You could usually find them in convenient capsules or easy to take tablets, potent liquid extracts, soothing tinctures, comforting lozenges, and even skin nourishing creams, when it's used topically. With such versatility, incorporating propolis into your daily regime is both convenient and beneficial. 

Now, a word of caution. While propolis is generally safe, it can trigger allergies in some folks, much like honey or pollen or even royal jelly. So it's wise to proceed with care. So bee careful.

 To wrap up things, propolis represents a natural marvel, bridging the gap between traditional wisdom and modern science. As we continue to unlock its secrets, propolis stands as a testament to the profound synergy between honeybees and humans in the realm of health and wellness. 

In conclusion, the medicinal bounty of the hive of medicines of the hive, honey, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis offers a treasure trove of therapeutic potential supported by scientific research. From their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties to their antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects, these natural bee products hold promise for addressing a wide range of health issues. 

However, it is essential to note, while these substances show immense potential as complementary and alternative medicines, further clinical research is often needed in order to understand their exact mechanisms of action and optimize their therapeutic use. Though these are traditional medicines and are generally considered safe, we just need to be careful with them and start to use them slowly at a time, to avoid any kind of allergic reactions. Well, that's all for today's episode. Thank you for tuning in and remember to stay curious, bee inspired, and until next time, take care and bee well.

Thank you for your time today, and remember that this podcast is made possible by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI, a nonprofit, global, non political, non commercial institute to promote the science and art of bioregulatory medicine. We extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for listening today, and if you haven't already, make sure to visit us at A treasure trove of invaluable information awaits you there. Connect with us across various social media platforms as well. Come and become a member of our thriving tribe. If you've enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to show your support by rating us, leaving us a review, or sharing the podcast within your circle. Our podcast and mission flourish through sharing, and your participation means the world to us. Our organization is sustained by donations, each of which is tax deductible and fuels projects like this. Visit our website,, to contribute or simply to explore the wealth of uncensored and impartial information we offer. No contribution is too small. In just two weeks, we'll be back delving into another captivating topic. Until then, we thank you once again for listening. May wellness and wisdom be your path. Be well.


bottom of page