Karrie Parent

Karrie Parent

The Buzz About Apitherapy: A Scientific Approach to an Alternative Remedy

Karrie Parent

Karrie has a long-held passion for natural and holistic health and wellbeing. A former owner of a health-food store, she has also been a beekeeper for 15 years. Karrie is fascinated by how bee products can be used as alternative remedies but also interested in their use from an academic perspective.

After selling the health food store, Karrie decided to go back to school to study neuroscience and enrolled at Bishop’s. Courses in biochemistry, biology and psychology continued to foster her passion in her field of study but also led to an interest in knowledge mobilization and bridging the gap between traditional health remedies and modern medicine.

Karrie was already aware of the work being done in Romania by Dr. Stefan Stangaciu on the therapeutic properties of bee products, and as she began to see how her two main interests – natural health care and rigorous investigation – could be combined, her B.E.S.T. project started to take shape. Karrie proposed to undertake a literature review on apitherapy which could be useful for those looking for accurate, substantive information on the practice, and she would also participate in Dr. Stangaciu’s apitherapy workshops to learn first-hand about the various ways bee products – from honey cocktails to cough syrups to ear candles – are used as alternative remedies.

“I was really curious about the similarities and differences in health care in Romania as compared to Canada, as well as in the home countries of the other workshop participants,” explains Karrie. “I was also interested to learn how apitherapy is accepted as an alternative in some parts of the world more so than in others. The experience would give me a chance to gain a deeper knowledge of natural remedies, the variety of bee products used, and how the local flora affects the products and which ailments they are used to treat.”

Karrie admits that the literature review aspect of her project turned out to be rather more complex than she anticipated! She eventually narrowed her scope from apitherapy in general to a systematic review of some 23 scientific articles on the topic of the ‘inhibitory effects of propolis against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus’.

Knowledge mobilization has also become an important part of Karrie’s focus, and something that will inform the next steps in her career path as she thinks about how she can facilitate access to evidence-based information on natural and alternative remedies for family physicians as well as the general public. “It’s really exciting to think about the balance between sharing the interesting and potentially useful information I’ve gleaned, and verifying its validity from a scientific point of view.”

Karrie was struck by the variety of projects undertaken by her fellow B.E.S.T. Project Fund recipients, and sees the Fund as a great opportunity for students to create and learn from new experiences. “Your imagination is the limit in terms of developing a project that will complement your studies and help shape your future career.”