A Pooh song from “Winnie The Pooh”, by AA Milne:
“Isn’t it funny
How a bear likes honey?
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?”
Probably because someone told him that it’s really good for him! Alas, they neglected to take into consideration the fact that Pooh bear is rather a sugar addict and compulsive overeater, so the last thing he needs is pure sugar – no matter how healthy it’s supposed to be. I guess they weren’t into labels (please read ‘Lamb To The Slaughter’ for amplification – if you’re interested, that is; and if you don’t know to what I’m referring, of course).
So, what have I got against honey, you may be asking? Actually, absolutely nothing. In fact, my only gripe is that I can’t eat it. At least, not without doing a Pooh. Put sugar in my system – nay, you only have to put it in my mouth – and I turn into something akin to a rabid dog, foaming at the mouth and ready to tear out the throat of anyone dumb enough to try to get between me and my supply. And then there’s what it does to my body and my mind ...
Which is why I don’t eat it any more: but it doesn’t stop me wanting to sometimes when I hear about the phenomenal health benefits to be had from doing so. And honey – that’s MANUKA honey, ‘cos your bog-standard variety won’t do anymore – is one such thing that is high on the list of wonderness in the world of wonder foods. You can tell just how wonderful it is because of the price you have to pay for it – a bit like buying a designer dress. And its popularity is not guaranteed, this being the health industry, which is almost as fickle as the fashion world – one minute you’re in, the next you’ve been relegated to the second division (designing clothes for Tesco’s), and replaced by the next big thing. Just look at soya.
But it was the brief mention of Manuka honey that led me to make the rash decision based on a rash of self-will, which resulted in a most delightful reaction – a rash. Yes, it appears that I am allergic to bee products – not just honey, because of the sugar allergy, but anything digestible which those furry little insects produce. Having tried to find a loophole in the whole “honey is pure sugar and therefore bad for a sugar addict” argument (and failed), I came up with the brilliant idea of buying some Royal Jelly capsules, figuring I’d be safe with those. I would get the same kind of health benefits that the Manuka honey eaters get, and I could stop feeling as if I was being deprived of some magical cure.
And I’d just have to be content with wearing Manuka yoga clothing. (No, they are not clothes made out of honey: it just happens to be the name of the company who makes them. And yes, I finally caved in to my obsession with having to have ‘proper’ yoga clothes for my practise, having made do for the last eight years without. Hey ho! Strangely enough, it hasn’t made any difference to my practise either: I still can’t do Shoulderstand without having to hoick up my top so that I can get a grip on my back because my hands slip on the material. And there I was, seriously believing that they were made with some special non-slip material, and that that’s why none of the pictures of Katy Appleton, or any other yogis I’ve gawped at on the web, show them with their t-shirts half-way up their backs!)
So, Royal Jelly, for those of you not in the know, is NOT the wobbly stuff made from water and what appear to be coloured cubes of rubber, which happens to have been given the Queen’s royal approval (Americans call it jello, I believe, in case there’s some confusion). It’s the stuff that is fed to bee larvae and, in particular, is continued to be fed to those chosen to be queen bees, thus producing bigger, stronger, fertile bees, with apparently lovely skin. I’m deducing that this last point must be the case, as one of its supposed benefits is for the skin, and it is also used in beauty products. Of course, I can’t actually say for certain whether this is true about the queen, since I’ve never got up close enough to notice whether she has any skin. I’ve always been under the impression that bees were simply furry little blobs who ambled around flowers, buzzing about amicably enough as long as you didn’t do anything rash (cue ironic laughter) - like try to kill them. Or steal their honey.
As it turned out, I didn’t get the chance to take it for long enough to experience any of the numerous health benefits attributed to it, nor even to notice whether it had any impact on my skin. Or, should I say, any beneficial impact. It certainly impacted - like a comet searing the Earth. I still have a residual trail of rash marks, nearly a month after it appeared. Fortunately the extreme pain and itchiness have gone, along with the band of tightness around my chest which made me feel as if I were being squeezed to death by a Boa Constrictor. I had great difficulty in getting comfortable for a few days, and for three nights I was in such agony I was kept awake by it, unable to find a restful position in which to lay. I have since discovered that it could have been worse – I could have died (seriously, no kidding). It puts a whole new slant on the words ‘health food’. And perhaps there’s some symbolism in the fact that bees live in hives?! God willing I’ll remember that next time I get another bee in my bonnet.