It has now been statistically demonstrated that beekeepers live, on average, for three years longer than the rest of the population. Could there be a link?
First ever congress of the French-speaking Apitherapy Society –
Lille (northern France) 21-22 January 2012
This event had been organized as a result of a close collaboration between AFA (Association Francophone d’Apitherapie) and UNAF – the French equivalent of BBKA, and given tremendous support by the city of Lille which had provided an excellent venue and facilitated every aspect of the conference. Like another 50 cities or districts in France, Lille has vowed to support bees, with a strong emphasis on urban beekeeping (beehives have been kept on the Lille opera roof since 2007).
The eminent speakers, ranging from medical doctors and surgeons to research scientists, had attracted some 150 delegates from all over France, Belgium, Switzerland and further afield. The audience included not only beekeepers, but also a c. 20% practitioners from the medical professions and a dozen students involved in scientific research.
A handful of hospitals in Europe already use apitherapy, particularly in the field of wound treatment, a practice which is well recognized. AFA’s main objective is to introduce scientific rigour to apitherapy with a view to regulating processes, as well as extending its activity and ultimately concentrating on prevention rather than cure.
Henri Clément, president of UNAF, opened the conference by emphasizing the links between the need for better education to obtain sound beekeeping practices at all levels, particularly in the context of our modern world with its use of pollutants such as insecticides.
He was quickly followed by Dr Albert Becker, President of AFA and a GP who actively practices Apitherapy. His presentation on the use of honey on wounds had the audience riveted. A hard act to follow, which didn’t deter the next speaker, Patrice Percie du Sert, an agricultural engineer and professional beekeeper, who illustrated the virtues of fresh pollen as well as presenting research that demonstrates the probiotic action of bee-collected pollen on salmonella.
Nicolas Cardinault, a specialist in human nutrition, presented papers on both the quality standards required for the use of propolis, and research which has been carried out on the anti-cancer activities of propolis. Both in-vitro tests and studies on mice have demonstrated the potential benefits of using propolis in the treatment of cancer tumours, as well as highlighting the added benefits this substance can bring to healthy cells, in particular liver and heart cells.
Patrice Percie du Sert gave detailed explanations on how propolis for medical use should be produced and harvested whilst Alain Bekaert (lecturer in pharmacy at Paris university) reported extensively on the active ingredients found in propolis and their potential use.
Meanwhile, the delegates were treated by Henri Joyeux, professor in oncology and digestive surgery at Montpellier university, to a fascinating yet entertaining exposé on the value of using all the products from the hive in human medicine.
Dr Stefan Stangaciu from Romania is the top-most authority on apitherapy and he gave an account of the use of bee venom therapy and its role in the treatment of a wide-ranging list of conditions such as MS, wounds, heart conditions. This was complemented by an exposé on desensitisation for allergy sufferers by Dr Claude Nonotte-Varly, an allergy specialist who explored risk factors and treatment methods.
In his presentation, professor Eberhart Bengsch, a world expert on royal jelly from the Max Plank institute in Munich, reported on the treatment of a large number of conditions (viral infections, osteoporosis, diabetes and mental illness to name but a few), using royal jelly.
Science is helping to protect the integrity of honey and other bee products. Dr Albert Becker explained how lab studies now enable the authorities to check honeys from all over the world for quality and authenticity, keeping one step ahead of fraudsters who would otherwise compromise what remains man’s best ally from nature. A world ‘honey library’ is currently being developed to preserve data for future generations.
Practical sessions on honey massage, digipuncture and the preparation of cosmetics rounded up a pleasant as sell as tremendously informative weekend.
Watch out for the next event: an international congress on apitherapy, to be held in the south of France in October 2012. Details will be announced on http://apitherapiefrancophone.com/