Vermeulen’s wonderful new book, Prisma, tells us a delicious amount about the workings of bees including snippets of their mythology and folklore. Bees have been revered since prehistoric times for their “divine gifts and mysterious powers.” They have evolved over 90 million years along with flowering plants.
Bee’s honey is delicious, nutritious, and restorative. Its many healing powers are well known: hot lemon and honey soothes sore throats, honey and cider vinegar maintains balance and health by cleaning the system (Pliny of Ancient Rome), honey with ginger or garlic relieves coughs. Medicinally, bee stings have been observed by country folk to cure rheumatism, and bees have been used by certain Native American tribes to cure dropsy and other ills.
I remember my father slathering my stomach with honey when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I had accidentally ironed my naked stomach. We were staying with my grandparents and I’d gotten up early and made myself “useful.” I had a burn that covered half my abdomen. I remember it hurting more than anything had hurt before, and it turning red and white and swelling into a blistered mess and thinking that my life was going to be ruined. I remember the honey making it much worse. For about an hour or so. And then I remember waking the next morning and finding hardly a trace of the burn.
The bee’s behavior gives us some clues to the emotional symptoms of the homeopathic remedy, Apis mellifica, made from the honey bee. Bees are loyal, highly organized, restless, and irritable insects. They are sensitive to heat and have an elaborate system of cooling down the hive by dropping on water and then fanning the hive with their wings. How interesting then that the homeopathic provings of Apis mirrored some of their behavior – the restlessness, irritability, and the sensitivity to heat for starters!
busy as a bee
Those who need Apis are generally cheerful, active people who can become compulsively busy. They tend to be more fidgety than restless or hyperactive. They never sit still, flitting from one thing to another, but don’t actually achieve much in the process and become exhausted – even then, they don’t stop.
a native american remedy
The following is an account of how Apis mellifica was first added to the homeopathic materia medica. This article appeared in 1866 in “The Elements of a New Materia Medica and Therapeutics,” Based upon an “Entirely New Collection of Drug-provings and Clinical Experience,” by E.E. Marcy, MD, JC Peters, MD, and Otto Fullgraff, MD.
In 1847, the attention of the writer was first directed to Apis mellifica as a remedial agent by the following unique cure.
A lad, aged about twelve years, had been afflicted for several months with ascites [accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity] and hydro-thorax [accumulation of fluid in the lung cavity]. He had been treated for some three months by allopathic physicians first for dysentery, followed by ascites, and afterwards for several months by a homeopathic physician. No permanent benefit resulted from either mode of medication, and the symptoms finally became so urgent that I was called in consultation, and tapping was at once resorted to in order to save the patient from imminent danger. Appropriate homeopathic remedies were again prescribed, but without arresting the onward course of the malady. The patient commenced to fill up again with great rapidity. The secretion of urine was nearly suspended, the skin was dry and hot, pulse rapid and weak, respiration short and difficult, great tenderness of the abdomen, dryness of the mouth and throat, thirst, excessive restlessness and anxiety, short, irritating cough, and an almost entire inability to sleep.
At this stage of the case, a strolling Indian woman – one of the few survivors of the Narragansett tribe – suggested to the family the use of a honeybee every morning and night. She enclosed the bees in a covered tin pail, and placed them in a heated oven until they were killed, and then after powdering them, administered one in syrup every night and morning. After the lapse of about twenty-four hours, the skin became softer and less hot, the respiration less difficult and more free, the pulse slower and more developed, and there was a decided increase in the quantity of urine. From this time the symptoms continued steadily to improve, the dropsical effusion diminished day by day, until at the expiration of a few weeks, the patient was entirely cured.
This is the first cure of dropsy by Apis which was ever reported, “From this empirical fact – this usu in morbus – I perceived that the profession was as yet unacquainted with a powerful remedial agent, and accordingly commenced a series of provings and of clinical trials with it.”
Jealous and irritable These types are sensitive to emotional shock especially jealousy, becoming quickly irritable if they feel displaced. The arrival of a new baby can cause an older child to feel jealous, to become difficult, irritable, and mildly hyperactive (busy rather than manic). Older people can be hard to please with nothing feeling right.
Weepy and scared They don’t want to be alone and can become demanding and whines, crying without knowing why they are crying. They are especially scared of being alone.
Apathetic and awkward When sick they can become dull and apathetic. They are absent-minded and clumsy, dropping things more easily than usual and even breaking things.
Hot, red, and puffy swellings Whether it’s a bite, a sting, a swollen gland or joint, hives, or sunburn – the swellings needing Apis will be red and shiny: a shiny, rosy red. Typically, the swellings are big and puffy and feel terribly hot.
Burning, stinging, and itching Those needing Apis have eruptions, inflammations, and swellings that burn and sting like hot needles. Maddeningly, they also itch and are worse for touch and any pressure or constriction.
Hot and thirst-less These are warm-blooded people who can become ill if over-heated. They are much worse for heat in any shape or form. But despite being generally hot they are thirst-less, even with a fever. They are much better for anything cold including nice cool air.
Sudden, sensitive symptoms Symptoms come on suddenly and tend to be right-sided; or move from the right to the left and are worse for touch. Their worst time of day is the afternoon, typically around 3 p.m.
Stressors Stressors include insect bites and stings, heat, jealousy, fright, bad news.
The following typical physical Apis symptoms are accompanied by the above general and emotional symptoms: – The cough is worse at night and when lying down. – The childhood illnesses are accompanied by the typical fever and eruptions. – The diarrhea is painless. – With the conjunctivitis, the eyelids are swollen and the eyes raw, red, and burning. – The heat with a fever is dry and burning with gushes of sweat. The person is better for uncovering. – With a headache the head feels hot and the scalp tight, sore, and very sensitive. – Herpes or Poison ivy are characterized by the typical Apis swellings. – Hives (from an allergy, an insect bite, or a fever) are accompanied by angry, white or red wheals that burn and sting and itch. – Painful joints from arthritis or a sprain are swollen, red and shiny, and painful. – The sore throat is accompanied by an earache with swollen glands. The mouth is dry; the throat and tongue red; the throat is swollen; and the tonsils are ulcerated. – With a urinary tract infection there is a constant urge to urinate and scanty urine.
Honey-bee – APIS – its virtues we sing For all manner of pains that burn and sting, With bad aggravations from all kinds of heat, With puffings and swellings and tension: repeat, Till you’ve got it by heart, that the Bee is the thing, For all manner of pains that BURN and STING.
Then the Bee for effusions! The Bee stands first For dropsies and fevers with absence of thirst: Odema of limbs, or of trunk, or of throat; Effusions, odema of membranes: you’ll note That its action on kidneys is great, and you’ll see That you’ve scored when the urine’s increased by the Bee.
Then the “crie cerebrale!” at the thrill of that “crie” You’ll instantly hurry in quest of the Bee: Or, when swellings and tensions and stiffness rule, Says she’ll “burst!” when she coughs, or when straining at stool. By the way, you’ll find Apis a wonderful thing In ovarian disease, where pains burn and sting.
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