A fresh new year is upon us once again and we hope you’re as excited as we are at the prospect of a new year and all the amazing possibilities that it offers. We here in Only Natural hope that we will continue to be part of your journey into natural health and we will try to bring you the latest information, trends and products as they hit the scene over the coming year.
As winter progresses we turn to vitamins C and D, Zinc, Echinacea and Olive Leaf, Oregano Oil and Garlic, all the traditional immune boosters to keep sickness at bay. This year however I think that a sometimes overlooked winter ally is going to make a bit of a comeback. I’m thinking of propolis. Also called bee glue, propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with resins gathered from tree buds. They use it to keep the hive infection free and it seems it can have a similar effect for us.
In a future when overuse of antibiotics could make them useless and mankind vulnerable propolis might even be our savior. Author Ray Hill writes in his book Propolis – The Natural Antibiotic, that it “offers the same immediate action as laboratory produced antibiotics, but without toxic or other side effects.”
Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly growing problem in today’s world, in large part due to the overuse of antibiotic drugs. It’s a significant concern across the globe that the World Health Organization has cautioned that if major changes aren’t made soon, the world just might be headed to a “post-antibiotic era” in which diseases that were once controlled by modern medicine could become a threat once again. People have been advised to limit their use of antibiotics and look to alternatives unless facing a dire emergency.
Researchers have found that propolis may be one of the better alternatives due to its potent antibiotic properties that have been shown to be effective against many types of bacteria, including staph. According to herbalist James Green, “These properties work to raise the body’s natural resistance to disease by stimulating and rejuvenating the body’s own immune system. The saliva becomes activated by the resins, and as the saliva is continually swallowed it efficiently distributes the antimicrobial components of the propolis throughout the throat and adjacent areas.”
Research conducted out of the University of Heidelberg in Germany tested propolis extract against a variety of disease causing bacteria, including the very stubborn MRSA, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), Candida albicans, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Within six hours of taking the extract, propolis was able to stop the activity of pyogenes, the bacteria that causes strep throat and skin infections that are difficult to treat. The study also discovered that propolis had a high degree of antibacterial activity against all tested MRSA strains, and was also able to inhibit Candida. The researchers concluded that propolis may “be used in the development of alternative products for therapy of microbial infections.”
Propolis is available in capsules, tincture, cream and lozenges and, if you don’t want to become an antibiotic junkie, maybe propolis could become your ally this winter.
Lentil Soup for New Year’s Day
Ingredients (Serves 4)
small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
walnut-sized knob of ginger, cut into thin shreds
little bit of peanut oil
225g split red lentils
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground chilli
250g pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled weight, cut into fat chunks
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1.5 litres water
1. Put the onion, garlic, ginger and olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the lentils and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down to an enthusiastic simmer. Stir in the tumeric and chilli and leave to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
2. While the soup is cooking, bring a medium-sized pan of water to the boil. Boil the pumpkin pieces for 10 minutes until they are tender enough to take a skewer without much pressure. Drain and set aside. (Or roast it in the oven for 20 to 30 mins at 200C/gas mark 6.)
3. Remove the lid from the lentils and turn up the heat, boiling hard for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the drained pumpkin. Put the soup through the blender until smooth. Stir in the roughly chopped coriander and check the seasoning.
4. Serve in deep bowls with a spoonful of the spiced onion mix below on top.
For the Onion Topping:
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons of oil
2 small hot chillies
2 cloves garlic
Peel the onions and cut them into thin rings. Cook them in the oil in a shallow pan until they start to colour. Cut the chillies in half, scrape out the seeds and slice the flesh finely. Peel and finely slice the garlic and add it with the chillies to the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown.