My father’s village in the mountains of Cyprus was a difficult place to be when he was a young boy. World war after world war then saw British occupation followed by the Cypriot—Turkish war and the island was a struggle for survival for many years.
Medical assistance was not afforded easily and when it did arrive to the far out villages and hard to reach patients it was often too late. Chemical aid such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory cortisone to name a few medications was not even a thought, only because the knowledge the people had was that the above was virtually impossible to get their hands on in their time of need.
And so like so many of the wonderful alternative methods of healing that desperation and scarcity gives birth to, my Grandmother found that her neighbour, a sickly man himself began to show signs of no illness when the village was swept with a virus or ill health due to malnutrition or food scarcities or snowy iced winters. One cold morning she asked him what he was doing that he was the only person in the village not to complain of a powerful Flu viral infection when he explained to her that the bees he kept to make honey also made a powder that he started to ingest. He said he was sure it was this powder as since he started to orally consume it the inflammation in his joints ceased and he never got ill since. Added to that he could breathe better (he suffered from asthma and allergies).
Soon word spread and I remember being told that an elderly man travelled over five hours every few months to see him for bee stings as the sting of the bee allowed he’s arthritic knuckles and fingers some alleviated pain.
As honey is such a staple in Cypriot living I loved hearing the stories and even now as an adult who tells my sons when we visit the island not to fear bees, I eagerly dive into these old stories of a hard village life and what good bees are and do for us.
As these stories were told to me by a wise, strong, matriarch – my Grandmother – I believe her every word. She was powerful in her belief that we should trust Mother Nature to stand us in good stead and not man for healing and therapies. And only because Mother Nature has never let us down. Can man say the same?
Smart woman she was. And ageless. One day I asked her a few months before she passed if she wanted tea. She said yes – chamomile and honey. I said to her why she would not have sugar in her teas ever and she responded that eighty year old women do not look this good by drinking sugar in their tea.