No One Knows You Better Than Yourself

Hive mentality is not just for the bees, and can help you become your own best health advocate.

Maryam Henein is an investigative reporter and the co-founder of HoneyColony. This online health and wellness magazine and marketplace was developed to empower people to be their own best health advocate in today’s increasingly toxic world. Maryam is best known for work co-directing the internationally acclaimed documentary Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page.

In her personal life, Maryam has survived a near-death experience and was subsequently a victim of three pesticide exposures following the release of her film. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Lupus, an “incurable autoimmune disease.” Despite being told her body was “attacking itself,” Maryam persevered for six years and hacked and reversed her condition naturally without steroids or anti-depressants. Her vibrance is apparent. Today, she’s studying functional medicine and metabolics and guiding others back to being their own health advocate.

The Vanishing Of The Bees: An Introduction To CCD And Hive Mentality

It’s hard to believe that an entire decade has already passed since American beekeeper David Hackenberg first sounded the alarm on the vanishing of the bees in the United States, also known today as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). With CCD, bees abandon the brood and the queen, which is unheard of in nature. I view this as a direct parallel to humanity forsaking Mother Earth. More importantly, the disappearance of these valuable ancient creatures hints to a greater environmental and cultural crisis affecting the world we inhabit.

Hardworking honeybees are responsible for the pollination of approximately one-third of all industrial crops globally — a value exceeding $577 billion every year! What’s worse is that they continue to die off in massive numbers worldwide. Except now, the systemic pesticides involved in industrial farming are also killing native species of bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and even earthworms. Pesticide residues have also been found lingering in our waterways, soil, and, brace yourself, our brains. And it’s not just happening in the US. Even Greece is losing bees to CCD.

But wait, that’s not all!! What’s most important to note is that these nicotine-based neurotoxic chemicals are the most commonly used pesticides in the world. And they are now also found to be a contributing factor to the degradation of the ocean’s Great Barrier Reef. Marine scientist, Craig Downs found that imidacloprid is widely present in over 67 coral reef species tested. It also was reported to have significantly negative genotoxic and reproductive effects on marine organisms even at doses as low as 500 parts per trillion. This devastating damage is a long way away from the corn fields.

When Vanishing of the Bees was released back in 2010, people questioned our theory that systemic pesticides are at the heart of CCD related bee deaths. To date, there have been more than 800 peer reviewed reports confirming that systemic pesticides cause bee mortalities. In fact, these neurotoxins, which generate about $3 billion for Ag giants Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science, are now being compared to DDT.

Back in 2007, I was clueless to the fact that honeybees are the most effective pollination insects in the world, responsible for everything from avocados to zucchini. I had no idea that bees are like indentured slaves, trucked from state to state to forage crops. I also knew nothing about the ills of modern agriculture, with its vast monocultures, “necessary” poisons, and of course the endless thirst for profits over people and planet.

And now with Trump in office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in shambles, and Monsanto and Bayer merging – giving the new corp a third of the global seed market and a quarter of the global pesticide market — who knows what’s in store.

Taking A Look Back In Time  

Growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was ignorant to the negative impacts of conventional foods. Most of us were. We were living in different times, one full of low-fat foods and misinformation. Between regular nutritious Egyptian home-cooked meals, I indulged in my fair share of American television, and junk food including Oreos, Coca Cola, Macaroni & Cheese, fast food like Whoppers and Big Macs, and Doritos. By the time I was 16, I was trying fad diets with little understanding (yet) on the importance of plants and real, nutrient-dense foods. Swallowing antibiotics was also a regular occurrence, which I mention because it whittled down my immune system and gut health, as it has done for countless others.

In 2002, I experienced a rude awakening to the realities of Western medicine when I was hit by an SUV as a pedestrian, without insurance. As a Canadian, I never had to question my health because coverage was always included. The hulking metal hit me at 30 miles an hour, hurling me onto the hood, before being thrown back on the asphalt and getting pinned between cement and tire, and dragged 49 feet. I broke my L1 lumbar vertebrae, five ribs, my tailbone, and my left femur, which was outfitted with a 14-inch titanium rod. It was a miracle I was not paralyzed or brain damaged.

It took me a few years to properly walk again and after that my body seemingly exploded into a flurry of other health issues. In retrospect I was dealing with issues that come from having a body stuck in a prolonged state of fight or flight: adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, candida, insomnia, etc. It was further initiation; I used my investigative skills to holistically put Humpty Dumpty (me) back together again. I became my own health advocate.

By 2005, I was following a strict candida diet and had cut out gluten, dairy, and sugar from my life. I deepened my yoga practice and worked to remove the metal rod from my leg. It wasn’t instantaneous, but slowly over two years that my health finally improved. Shortly thereafter, the bees flew into my life both figuratively and literally. The five years that ensued thereafter during the making of the Vanishing of the Bees were magical and profound on so many levels. Just traveling the world with purpose and in service to an issue of global magnitude was healing.

Chemical Burden In The Air

In 2010, after the release of the film, I was in the Dominican Republic, ironically at an environmental film festival showcasing my documentary film. While I was enjoying the last day at the beach before heading to the event, someone was using a damn leaf blower. Or so I thought. I rushed outside to ask him to turn it off. As the man turned to face me, I noticed he had a pack on his back. He was also wearing a full-on industrial respirator (albeit no other protection). That’s when I realized he wasn’t blowing leaves, he was fumigating against mosquitoes between our condo and the one next door.

By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. It was windy and I was assaulted by a waft of poisonous pesticides. Incidentally, each year ONE BILLION pounds of pesticides are used in the United States alone and 6.5 billion pounds worldwide. The health effects of chronic exposure to low levels of of these well-known toxic chemicals are only beginning to be clinically investigated. At no point whatsoever did my doctor consider the chemical burden I had experienced when diagnosing me. Instead, she sent me home with pharmaceutical drugs and told me my condition was hopeless.

Between 50 and 80 million Americans suffer from some type of autoimmune condition. I also developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities — a medical condition characterized by a heightened sensitivity to chemicals (see Safe with Julianne Moore).

In 2013, when my condition stabilized once again, I traveled to study permaculture in Central America and alas I was exposed to chemicals two more times. It was only last year (2016), when I devised a holistic protocol that included detoxing with coffee enemas and ozone, that my condition improved significantly. My regime also included anti-inflammatory organic foods to address the large amount of oxidative stress, superfoods, herbs, metabolomics testing, ketogenic dieting, inner mind/body work, and dietary supplements like CBD oil and molecular hydrogen (a tiny antioxidant with a BIG impact).

The presence of large amounts of autoantibodies or ANAs can indicate an autoimmune disease. Low titers are in the range of 1:40 to 1:60. Mine were at 640 before I managed to get them down. It’s amazing, but after years of immense connective tissue pain, aches, low energy, insomnia, and exhaustion, I feel alive again. It’s not to say I don’t have off days; I need to be my own health advocate by being careful about the food I put in my body and the environmental toxins I expose myself to. Yet with that said I now have surefire ways in my arsenal to help. And I no longer uphold the damaging belief that my body is attacking itself. We must believe that we can heal!

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Chronic Disease And Being Your Own Health Advocate

In 2013, a massive investigative report was released in the Global Burden of Disease Study. This report revealed new information on the propagation of chronic disease. And for the first time we can see that up to 95 percent of the population is sick from a spectrum of chronic conditions, some apparent and some not, but overall progressing for the worst. This is unparalleled in human history and has taken place only in the last 80 years.

It is crucial now more than ever before that we put honesty back into the food supply and become our own best health advocate. Everybody can make a difference. A single bee only produces about a quarter of a teaspoon of honey during her six week life span. Think of the collaborative effort that is possible the next time you spot a jar of honey. Each drop counts. The first step in effecting change is education. Our bodies and our environment can recover!

So, check in with us on HoneyColony to learn more. And don’t forget visit Netflix to watch Vanishing of the Bees and learn about CCD.

Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

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