German researchers are investigating the chemical basis of beehive air therapy
Honey and propolis have been known for their healing properties for thousands of years. But bees provide even more health for humans. Beehive air is also said to help against various ailments. German researchers have now examined the chemical basis of this therapy.
Bees provide health-promoting substances
Bees provide various substances that have long been used to treat patients. Healing with the home remedy honey is common. For example, it is used in warm milk as a home remedy for cough. The bee's poison is also said to have a positive effect. In traditional Chinese medicine, bee sting therapy is used as a remedy for various diseases such as arthritis. And the air from beehives is said to have a beneficial effect. German researchers have now examined the chemical basis of this therapy.
Beehive air is said to help with numerous complaints
The therapeutic potential of beehive air for asthma and bronchitis patients has been widely reported in recent years.
The beehive air should also have a positive effect on migraines, susceptibility to infections, neurodermatitis, depression and other complaints.
So far, however, only experience reports from individual patients are available, and information on the chemical composition of the beehive air was not yet available, writes the Technical University Dresden in a message.
Therefore, the stick air was now the focus of a scientific study by researchers from the TU Dresden: Professor Karl Speer, DLC Kristin Recklies and graduate student Franziska Kuhn from the Faculty of Chemistry and Food Chemistry.
Season is from May to September
With beehive air therapy, the patient, who is sitting next to the beehive either outdoors or in a small wooden house, inhales the beehive air, which is around 35 degrees warm and very humid, which the bees circulate with their wing beats.
Breathing takes place via an inhalation mask with attached hose, whereby the air is transported from the floor by a fan. Thanks to the built-in filter, neither bees nor pollen can get into the hose.
Season is from May to September with an outside temperature of at least 18 degrees. "It is still unclear to what extent the actual therapy or the environment is good for the patient," explains Prof. Speer.
"How much positive influence calm and balance have in the country, where the therapy takes place, or the calm inhalation - and how much the ingredients of the beehive air itself contribute to the therapy still requires detailed studies."
Insects were not disturbed
In their study, the chemists at the TU Dresden took air samples from the beehives and analyzed their composition using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry:
This enables a mixture consisting of many components to be separated into individual substances and also to be assigned to compounds of a defined structure.
One beehive each in Dresden and one in the forest botanical garden in Tharandt were prepared in such a way that an external entry of aromatic substances by the materials used could be excluded.
Therefore, odorless Teflon and copper were used for the hoses and housings of the measuring instruments. "What has to be measured is what is really contained in the beehive, the pure, natural components," emphasizes Prof. Speer.
"The beekeepers Tino Lorz and Lisa Becker from the beekeeping association Dresden supported us very much with their experiences, so that we can measure the air reliably without disturbing the bees." The scientists used the ambient air around the beehive as control samples.
Over 50 different ingredients identified
Removing the beehive air from the hive was a difficulty: how do you remove the air evenly, in what quantities and, above all, how does the extracted air get into the analyzer?
Since there were no studies on beehive air, the air sampling and transfer had to be optimized in laborious preliminary work.
Prof. Speer has been working very successfully on authenticating variety honeys since the mid-1980s, but beehive air is also a new topic for him, which he has only been dealing with for a little over a year.
Nevertheless, the expert and his team managed to identify more than 50 different ingredients despite the small amount of substances in the beehive air.
In addition, they were able to show - through comparative studies - that the compounds in the beehive air mainly come from the bees resin ("propolis") and the beeswax, while the honey stored in the honeycomb, as actually expected, only makes a small contribution to the air in the store delivers.
In further studies, the connections are now to be precisely quantified and, in addition, various devices used in stick air therapy, which are of different designs, are compared with regard to the air supplied to the patient. (ad)