It has been used for millennia - by the Egyptians, the Celts and countless indigenous people groups around the globe, for everything from ritual tattoo healing to wound care and beauty products. Beeswax. Misunderstood by many to be only a binding agent or emollient, it is actually a powerful natural medicine in its own right.
What exactly is beeswax? It's a liquid that is secreted by younger worker bees from a wax gland in their abdomen. The almost white liquid is used to build the honey comb and to plug each perfect hexagonal cell after it is filled with honey. Bees collect honey when there is pollen available and store it to feed the hive during times when there are no flowers. Beeswax changes colour after contact with bee pollen and honey, initially becoming bright yellow from contact with fresh pollen, and then ages to shades of brown after 2-3-4 years in the hive, as the cocoons from the bee pupae remain behind.
The idea that beeswax is a single, standard, homogeneous product is absurd, in some ways - so many species of bee, so many vastly differing pollens in different climates, and such a huge difference in farmed beeswax (where often the bees fed simply sugar water) to wild natural beeswax, where the bees have foraged widely and the wax contains the nutrients from an astounding array of pollens. The adage "You are what you eat," has a special significance for beeswax.
And yet beeswax wherever it comes from - farmed or wild - has some consistent properties which come from the process within the bee itself. And it is these properties which make it a profound healing substance, and so much more than an emollient or binding agent. All beeswaxes are made up of hydrocarbons, free fatty acids, esters of fatty acids and fatty alcohol, diesters and an incredible range of phytonutrients - well over 300 different compounds.
There is a great deal of scientific literature to support beeswax as a therapeutic agent for healing inflammation, bruising and burns. A 2014 study published in the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine reports that it was used to helped relieve inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. Patients experienced a reduction in pain, joint stiffness and physical function. These reductions were significant beginning in the second week and became enhanced during the trial. You can read more about that Here.
What is particularly exciting is the scientific literature which shows beeswax as having profound anti-microbal activity, particularly for Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger; these inhibitory effects are enhanced synergistically with other natural products such as honey or olive oil. What's really fascinating is that crude beeswax - when it contains traces of honey, propolis, pollen etc - is a particularly effective antimicrobial and antifungal. A review of the scientific studies regading the antimicrobial effects of beeswax can be found Here
Pure Thai Natural Co Ltd is always excited to uncover more scientific data to support the pure ingredients which we know are the best possible option. And we buy a considerable quantity of our beeswax in it's purest, crudest form:
Where do we get it from? The midwives from our Organic Frontiers project partner, the Karen Department of Health & Welfare, travel the jungles of the Thai-Burmese border largely on foot, delivering babies in refugee and IDP (internally displaced people) settlements. They earn an extremely modest amount of money, most of which is sent back to families within Burma to buy basic food supplies. They supplement their incomes by collecting honey and beeswax from wild jungle hives during the later part of the dry season. The bees are not harmed in this process. The midwives smoke the bees out in the late evening, when they are calmest. The bees and the Queen leave the hive, and relocate to establish a new colony elsewhere. The honeycomb is then literally hand-squeezed to get the honey out, and I buy the rest, as is and as you can see in the image. Very occasionally there will be one or two dead bees left behind out of the typically 50,000 plus bees in a hive. Bees live an estimated 6 weeks and so it's expected to occasionally come across a dead one before the hive has had a chance to remove it. The dark bits you see in the squeezed wax are the cocoons from the bee larvae - they remain in the hive after the bee pupae emerge. We never boil the wax - just melt it at a low, steady temperature and strain it though simple white cotton muslin. And so our beeswax products use the wax in its crudest and most organic form, cos that's when it has its highest medicinal and anti-microbial value. As evidenced and supported by a considerable number of scientific studies.
Much commercial beeswax is boiled with water and chemicals like oxalic acid anhydride - the prolonged high heat, however, destroys a lot of the natural healing & antimicrobial properties and the wax is definitely no longer organic. It's also very common here in Thailand for commercial beeswax to be diluted with toxic petrochemical paraffin to make it look creamier, whiter and more "cosmetically pleasing".
A common misconception is that beeswax may trigger an allergic reaction. And, in fact, the opposite is true. It is because beeswax contains natural enzymes secreted by the bees that it is used to TREAT allergy, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. Sensitivity to a bee sting is an immune system response issue in each individual. Beeswax is naturally anti-inflammatory and hypoallergenic.
When you next use an organic, 100% natural beswax product, you can RELAX and know that you're using one of the finest compounds, used and tested for thousands of years, for wound and skin healing. You can be extra reassured that contemporary western science supports ALL of the folklore behind beeswax, and that some of the biggest and most well-equipped hospitals in the world are now using beeswax and honey products for sepsis, burns and ulcer management.
So grateful for our beautiful bees! The wild jungle honey and beeswax here in Thailand comes from the Giang Asian Honeybee, Apis Dorsata:
What kind of products does Pure Thai Naturals use the amazing beeswax for?
We produce a LOT of tattoo aftercare product for our international client, Celebrity Ink Tattoo
- We use it in our healing massage balms - Phlai and Ginger Cassia - for stiff and sore muscles, strains, sprains and stiff joints.
- Our Intensive Skin Repair Balm is popular for people with over-dry skin, dermatitis and psoriasis. It also makes a GREAT barrier cream to prevent chapping & wind burn.
- Our Foot Repair Balm (Lemongrass, Neem & Peppermint) builds on the natural anti-fungal properties of beeswax and has been enjoyed around the world for a decade now for foot massage, cracked heels and as a preventative foot fungus treatment.
- Beeswax in an important anti-inflammatory ingredient in our SUPER poplar anti-itch Bug Bite Balm.
- Our Lip Balms (Orange, Peppermint and Vanilla Cassia) do much more than just keep your lips soft.
- And our newest beeswax balm product? Pure Baby Balm. For all over skin care, nappy changes, chapping and dry skin.
You can click through to my Pure Thai Naturals store link Here or below.
But wait!!! You didn't answer the most common question about beeswax - is it vegan? LOL. That, my friends, requires a whole new post. Soon, I promise.
Enjoying my natural Thai beeswax and enjoying sharing more of this amazing natural medicine knowledge with you. BlissednBlessed.