The Benefits of Bee Products for Autoimmunity
If you’re like me and you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and always searching for answers & natural ways to kick your disease into remission, you’ve stumbled across a biggie!
I’m here to share with you just how much bees have our backs when it comes to autoimmunity. It turns out, all of their products including raw honey, propolis, bee pollen & royal jelly could help you manage your autoimmune disease in one way or another.
As a person managing both Hashimoto’s and Celiac Disease, I believe including them in my daily diet has been a big part of achieving remission. And here’s why:
As much as keeping sugar low on any kind of autoimmune or anti-inflammatory diet is important, everyone needs a touch of sweetness in their lives and at 5g per tsp, a drop a day of raw honey is definitely not going to kill ya. In fact, it might even do you a bit of good!
The biggest benefit of raw honey for those managing autoimmunity is it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation being at the core of autoimmunity, anything we can do to keep it down will contribute to healing.
It is likely these anti-inflammatory properties, along with additional antibacterial ones that make honey so effective in wound healing. In fact, one study has shown a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment and another showed 97% of patients with diabetic ulcers experienced healing from topical honey. From an autoimmune perspective, this is promising as honey may then contribute to healing the gut lining and preventing GI infection, commonly associated with certain autoimmune diseases. For those with autoimmune skin conditions such as psoriasis, honey may be effective topically as well!
The antioxidant power of raw honey is also likely to contribute to the gut healing and anti-inflammatory effects. The high concentrations of organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids in honey have the ability to reduce oxidative damage, making them helpful for reducing the risk of heart attacks, stokes and some cancers as well. When we have autoimmune diseases that put us at higher risk for some of those things, the addition of honey starts to sound even sweeter!
SO WHAT KIND OF HONEY SHOULD I GO FOR?
Well, first of all, it MUST be raw and unpasteurized. If it has been processed in any way, the beneficial compounds will have likely been killed off at large, leaving you with just pure, nutirient-poor, inflammatory sugar.
If you want to take it further, studies suggest that the darker the honey the greater the benefit. Buckwheat honey, for example, has proven the most effective at actually increasing the antioxidant value of your blood.
Sometimes referred to as “bee glue”, propolis is used by bees to close the openings in their beehives and protect them from bacteria and other external elements that might endanger the colony. It has been used by humans since the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. In fact, Hippocrates notes that propolis is beneficial for promoting wound healing, both internal and external. Meanwhile, Persian manuscripts document it as a remedy for various conditions including eczema, rheumatism, muscle pain, tutors and ulcers.
Now we can look at the science and see that propolis contains numerous active compounds, including flavonoids, diterpenoid acids, triterpenoids and phenols. These components are the key to why propolis has such a profound anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal effect.
As discussed, for those of us with autoimmunity, reducing inflammation and gut-healing are the tops. It seems that propolis may contribute to both of these things just as well as honey. In fact, in a 2017 study, scientists were able to prove propolis’ ability to stop biofilm formation in wounds to accelerate healing.
Once again, propolis may also contribute to topical healing for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties assist in wound healing by reducing free radical activity in the skin and promoting collagen production.
A final but very exciting note about propolis is that it may improve fertility for women with endometriosis, an autoimmune condition causing abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. In a randomized controlled trial, researchers found that taking bee propolis at a dose of 500mg twice daily for six months resulted in a pregnancy rate of 60% compared to only 20% in the placebo group.
Now you might be thinking, bee pollen!? Megan, I’m allergic to pollen, why would I CONSUME it!?
Well it turns out consuming bee pollen may actually improve allergy symptoms by helping to modulate the immune system.
Great news! But how does this relate to autoimmunity?
Well, those immunomodulatory properties may help to dampen unnecessary autoimmune attacks! Woohoo!
Studies have suggested that, especially those with autoimmunity using immunosuppressants may benefit from consuming bee pollen alongside those drugs to keep the immune system strong without interfering with the effects of said drugs. This can help reduce the risk of chronic colds and infections, which is a common side effect of these drugs.
Once again, the anti-inflammatory component also plays a big part of bee pollen’s benefit for those with autoimmunity. The anti-inflammatory action has been compared to drugs such as naproxen. Research suggest that it can be used in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. Bee pollen contains kaempferol, which inhibits activity of enzymes after injury and decreases inflammatory reactions and swelling. It also improves blood circulation, prevents platelet aggregation and prevents infection, allowing a wound to heal quickly. This all comes into play from an autoimmune perspective as we attempt to heal our guts and combat GI infections.
Bee pollen has also proven an effective anelgesic, giving it the ability to relieve pain. This may be why it has proven effective for those suffering from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Bee pollen contains a greater variety of amino acids than other high-protein foods such as beef, eggs and cheese. It is also one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B12 and contains 15% lecithin, which is essential for fat metabolism and a key component for brain health. It is also a natural source of vitamins A, C, D and E, potent antioxidants and immunomodulators. It is likely these powerful components that make bee pollen effective for combating fatigue, depression and colon disorders, commonly associated with autoimmune conditions.
I will note, especially for those who currently have allergies, it is recommended that you start at a very low dose and work your way up. It is also not meant to be taken every day for a period of time longer than 60 days. It may also stimulate the uterus, potentially threatening pregnancy so tI would advise pregnant women to avoid bee pollen entirely.
Royal Jelly is perhaps the most well documented in it’s ability to aid in management of autoimmune diseases. In animal studies, it has proven it’s ability to modulate the immune system, helping to calm the overactivity seen in autoimmunity. This action is likely due to a specific glycoprotein found in royal jelly that suppresses IL-2 and IL-4 cells required for the activation of T-cells responsible for autoimmune attacks.
Royal Jelly has been studied closely, specifically for treatment of Lupus Nephritis, wherein lipopolysaccharide (LPS) form bacteria can accelerate and exacerbate the disease and provoke inflammatory cells. A 2012 study conducted in Japan showed that a major fatty acid component of royal jelly (10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid), had inhibitory effects on LPS, thereby providing anti-inflammatory effects that could prove therapeutic for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases associated with LPS.
Royal Jelly has also been looked at as a therapy for Graves’ disease, wherein studies suggest that it may have a similar effect to an antithyroid drug for decreasing TSHR Ab levels (the specific antibody that provokes overproduction of thyroid hormone).
Royal Jelly may be beneficially for many of us with autoimmunity, not just Lupus and Graves’, as it inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines present in all conditions. That is to say, royal jelly provides effective anti-inflammatory action.
Once again, Royal Jelly may prove an effective therapy for autoimmune skin conditions as well as it contains specific nutrients and vitamins that support skin renewal such as flavonoids, nucleic acid, decanoic acid, enzymes and hormones. Studies indicate that these acids found in Royal Jelly contribute to collagen production and promotion as well. The combined anti-inflammatory and collagen promoting affects may aid wound healing as well.
So it seems the bees are, in fact, our friends.
I’m not saying by any stretch that these have been the key to my remission. However, knowing all of this, I feel like it can’t be hurting!
I use a very small dose of each of these daily. Personally, I use Beekeeper’s Naturals Bee Powdered in my tea most mornings. It contains ALL FOUR of these active bee based ingredients in a safe daily dose. I am not sponsored or affiliated with them in any way, I just love and use their products for real.
You can buy all ingredients separately if you want to control your dose and which ones you would like to use more of. I always recommend looking as local as possible for these kinds of products and absolutely raw & unpasteurized.
So go ahead autoimmune warriors! Sweeten up your life!
Check out my guide to loaded lattes - this is the #1 way I get my bee products in deliciously and nutritiously with gut healing in mind!
Please share this article with fellow autoimmune warriors who might need a little extra sweetness and healing in their lives!
Comment below if you have any questions at all. I’m here for ya!