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Nature’s alchemist

Nature’s alchemist

“Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: ‘Make your homes in the mountains, in the trees, and in the hives which men shall build for you. Feed on every kind of fruit, and follow the trodden paths of your Lord.’  From its belly comes forth a syrup of different hues, a cure for men.”

— The Quran, ‘The Bee’ (16:68)

A modern disease
Life Mel honey has been called the most expensive honey in the world. Sold in London’s iconic department store Harrods for £42 per 120g pot and in Pakistan for Rs.10,000 per pot, Life Mel has gained a considerable following all over the world since its launch in 1998 and has earned itself a reputation of being something of a miracle nectar. The main reason for its growing popularity is because of its remarkable effect on the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. But, it is not only of benefit to cancer patients – anybody from the age of one upwards can take it (with the possible exception of pregnant women). Essentially, Life Mel is a potent yet completely natural nutritional supplement and is so effective that it even helps cancer patients whose immune systems have been heavily compromised if not ravaged by cancer treatment. And like Manuka – the other famous superhoney – Life Mel is gaining increasing acceptance and recognition in the medical and academic community.

The global rise of cancer, a disease that was practically unknown even to our recent ancestors, has been likened to an epidemic striking both old and young (even fetuses have been diagnosed with cancer). As yet, there is no known cure and the two most effective and widely used cancer treatments – chemotherapy and radiation – usually result in side effects so debilitating that further cancer treatment has to be stopped until the side effects themselves are treated. This, then, becomes an expensive and very vicious cycle.

One of the main features of cancer cells is that they multiply quickly and chemotherapy and radiation are designed to indiscriminately target and destroy all cells in the body which have this feature. But in the process, they end up destroying healthy cells whose normal function is also to quickly multiply, such as those in the hair follicles, digestive tract and bone marrow. That is why hair loss and stomach upset are common side effects of cancer treatment. But the most serious side effect of all is something called myelosupression – a decreased production of blood cells in the bone marrow.

The river of life
All blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. Blood is, quite simply, the river of life. It nourishes, heals and protects. Normal blood contains a large number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells nourish, in that they carry oxygen to all parts of the body so a decrease in their number results in anemia (which is very common in cancer patients) and manifests itself as breathlessness, weakness and fatigue.

Platelets heal by clotting the blood when a person cuts or wounds themselves. Although a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) is less common in cancer patients, it can be very dangerous when it does occur. In fact, most chemotherapy related deaths are caused by excessive bleeding.

White blood cells protect and are the very basis of our immune system. They fight any bacteria or foreign body that enters the bloodstream so a decrease in their number severely weakens the immune system leaving the patient extremely vulnerable to infections.

A particular type of white blood cell is most severely affected by chemotherapy – an infection-fighting cell called a neutrophil. Just to give some idea as to how important neutrophils are – 50% to 70% of circulating white blood cells are actually neutrophils. An abnormally low number of these cells results in a condition known as neutropenia which is perhaps the most serious and debilitating side effect of chemotherapy. Needless to say, the chances of infections and illnesses rises dramatically in a person suffering from neutropenia.

A vicious cycle
Now, myelosupression in any or all of its forms can vary in terms of seriousness from mild to life-threatening, depending on how low the blood count falls. But, if caused by chemotherapy or radiation, chances are that it will be quite severe and further cancer treatment will have to be delayed until the bone marrow recovers either naturally or through further expensive medical treatment.

Red blood cells and platelets can be replaced in the short term by blood transfusions but transfusions of white blood cells are completely ineffective. So, a person suffering from neutropenia has to be injected with what are called ‘growth factors’ which stimulate the bone marrow to make more white blood cells. This treatment is very expensive and usually several injections will be needed. It also has its own unpleasant side effects such as bone pain, fever, rashes, muscle pain and nausea.

When the bone marrow has sufficiently recovered, the cancer treatment can be resumed. Yet again, the patient is at risk of developing myelosupression and will have to be given blood transfusions and growth factor injections. So, the cycle just goes on and on and costs can escalate to unmanageable proportions. In fact, many cancer patients opt not to have chemotherapy/radiation at all because they are so weakened by the side effects and burdened by the costs of treating them. This is where Life Mel honey can play its part.

An ancient remedy 
For centuries, perhaps even before the advent of modern medicine, honey has been prized for its medicinal and healing powers. In the earliest known ‘records’ or depictions made by humans in the form of cave paintings (some dating back about 20,000 years), there are clear images of early man hunting for honey with bees hovering around him. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as those of China, India, Persia and Egypt all wax lyrical about honey’s therapeutic benefits. In the Bible, a land flowing with milk and honey is God’s promise to the Israelites and honey is praised for its goodness: “My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13). The Quranic depiction of Paradise also promises rivers of honey (47:15) and refers to the products of the bee as a ‘cure for men’ or a ‘healing for men’ depending on the translation. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), himself, was reported to have said, “If a person eats honey, a thousand remedies enter his stomach and a million diseases will come out.”

Aristotle wrote extensively about bees and honey, as did Virgil – in fact, many think that Virgil may even have been a beekeeper. Pythagoras believed that a daily breakfast of bread and honey held the key to longevity and in Greek mythology, the infant Zeus was nourished on a diet of milk and honey which is why honey became known as a food of the gods. The Bible tells us that honey instantly “enlightened” Jonathan (the son of Saul) after which he had a strong and better understanding of his people than his father had.

Most legends have an element of truth to them and the truth is that over the centuries, the healing powers of honey have stood the test of time. Even modern day science agrees that honey is an excellent antiseptic and speeds the healing of open wounds which is why it was used extensively during the two World Wars of the 20th Century. It is also an anti-microbial agent which means that it not only deters the growth of certain bacteria, it also destroys it by draining it of fluids. Honey is also the only food that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water. It is packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants but free of sodium, cholesterol and fat (although there is a dispute amongst scientists/dieticians about it being fat free). Essentially, it is nature’s ultimate energy booster providing both an immediate energy boost through its glucose content as well as a slower more long-term energy boost through the fructose content.

The root of the matter
The biblical story of Jonathan becoming enlightened as to the nature of his people after he had tasted the local honey may perhaps be allegorical, but when one considers that a pot of honey is actually a product of the essence of its environment seen as it is drawn from the nectar of the surrounding foliage, then the metaphor may not be so unreal after all. People who suffer from asthma and other allergies are frequently advised to eat honey that is the product of their surroundings as a cure.

The story of Life Mel began in a similar vein. In the 1970s, a young microbiologist from Tashkent by the name of Dr. Alexander Goroshit was investigating the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in a Russian village. In the course of his investigation, he was surprised to discover that certain families were not at all afflicted by the epidemic. They all had one thing in common: they were beekeepers and had a predominantly honey-based diet. He then discovered that the bees drew their nectar from specific plants. Fascinated by this finding, he then hit upon the idea that one could feed the bees with a selection of blends from specific plants and end up with a medicinal honey.

It has been known for centuries that the nectar that bees drink affects the properties of the honey they produce. That is why each place, each region and each plant produces a different honey with different tastes, textures and colours. But Dr. Alexander soon discovered that the active properties of any plant are not in the flower at all but in the root, stems and leaves. So, if he could feed the bees with sap from the root, stems and leaves, logically it must result in a honey with properties far more enhanced than a honey produced from the juice of the flower? But the problem was that bees cannot extract sap from these areas naturally and would not even attempt to when it is so much easier to get it from the flower. So, Dr. Alexander and his team had to devise another way to feed the bees and, thirty years later, he had a breakthrough.

One of the remarkable things about bees is that wherever they are – in the desert, jungle, tundra, arctic or mountains – they will find nectar. Even if it is in small doses, they will source it and find it. Dr. Alexander placed his hives in areas without any flowers such as rocky slopes, avocado plantations or in certain valleys. All around the hives, he placed troughs with a special feed made from a selection of herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Echinacea and Uncaria Tomentosa…and the bees drank it and turned it into their own brand of flowing gold.

A miracle nectar
Encouraged by his success in feeding the bees, Dr.Alexander developed different blends to create different products – some for a specific condition and others of general medicinal use. The ingredients in the Life Mel blend contain substances designed to prevent the blood count from falling and to improve the functioning of the immune system.

Life Mel is a completely natural product and no ingredients are added after the honey has been extracted from the hive. When the honey was sent to laboratories in the United States of America for testing, scientists were reportedly amazed by not only the number of active substances but also by their intensity. Life Mel has also been demonstrated to dramatically boost the immune system because of the intensity of its active substances which are directly absorbed into the blood. Its effects usually become apparent within 5-10 days.

Taking a teaspoonful of Life Mel in the morning on an empty stomach and a teaspoonful at night before sleeping has been shown to produce the following results:

- an increase in the white blood cell count
- an increase in the red blood cell count
- an increase of platelets in the blood
- an increase of haemoglobin in the blood
- rehabilitation and strengthening of the immune system

In a small medical study conducted in 2006 on 30 cancer patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced neutropenia were given Life Mel before and during their next cancer treatment. 40% did not suffer further episodes of neutropenia nor did they experience a low blood count. 32% reported an ‘improved quality of life’ and 64% did not suffer from anemia. The incidence of thrombocytopenia was also very low. Essentially, Life Mel was shown to have a positive effect on stimulating the production of blood cells in the bone marrow and was therefore an effective and very welcome aid to people undergoing cancer treatment because it reduced the chances of them suffering myelosupression and having to undergo further expensive medical treatment.

Of course, this was only a small study but the feedback from people all over the world on the Life Mel website as well as other health websites speaks for itself as does the growing demand for the honey. But as Dr. Alexander is at pains to point out, the honey does not cure cancer – it simply alleviates or reduces the harsh side effects of chemotherapy by preventing the blood count from falling.

But, as with any seemingly ‘miracle remedy,’ there will always be justifiable skepticism. The Times of London wrote a negative article on Life Mel which expressed doubt as to its stated benefits. But the comments on its website from readers in response to the article overwhelmingly disagreed with its content. Those comments have since been removed from the website. In certain Muslim countries, there is also a reluctance to buy Life Mel because Dr. Alexander moved to Israel in the 1990s as he was offered state funding for his research and therefore, the honey is produced in Israel – the proverbial land of milk and honey. Understandably, feelings against the Israeli government run high in Muslim countries. [Ultimately, this is a question of individual conscience and rationale but it should perhaps be borne in mind that the honey is only produced in Israel and unlike products such as Johnson & Johnson, Estee Launder, L’Oreal and shops such as Marks & Spencer in London which have been reported to actually give money to the Israeli/Zionist cause, the proceeds of Life Mel do not claim to support this cause.]

Nature’s alchemist
Dr. Alexander’s research was not only focused on honey but also on the nectar itself. Which plants and materials would produce the most effective honey? Along with honey, flowers and plants have been known for centuries to have healing properties and form the basis of the whole science of homeopathy. Bach flower remedies, essential oils and other such things are widely used and recognised as a form of alternate healing. So the question naturally arises as to why we cannot simply drink the nectar itself or take the herbs that have been used? Why is it necessary to go through the laborious process of feeding the bees and waiting for them to produce the honey from these herbs? The answer is actually quite simple and is best answered in the words of Dr. Alexander himself in a 2007 interview in Yated Ne’eman.

“In the bee’s body, there is a synergetic process which intensifies the properties of the active substances. Science cannot yet utterly explain the mystery of the bee – how some active substances change into other substances – but what is known today is that bees process the special blend and produce a honey that combines medicinal properties and excels with strong effect.”

In other words, the herbs and flowers, taken on their own are not as effective. The bee does something magical to them by turning them into honey – nature’s very own gold. So although Dr. Alexander gets the credit for mixing the nectar, it is the bees that turn it into gold. So, the real alchemist is not Dr. Alexander at all, but the bee itself – the only real alchemist this earth has ever known.

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