How a Mother’s Tragedy Inspired a Honey-Based Medicine - The Public Goods Blog How a Mother’s Tragedy Inspired a Honey-Based Medicine - The Public Goods Blog

How a Mother’s Tragedy Inspired a Honey-Based Medicine

There was a horrible period of Joyce Dales’ life when the people she loved most were sick and suffering.

honey bee crawling on q tips

First there was her father who, as a result of exposure to asbestos during his career in the navy, spent five years battling lung cancer.

Before they were married, her husband had an operation that made him susceptible to MRSA, a life-threatening infection that is resistant to certain types of antibiotics. To survive, he underwent an additional 11 surgeries.

Then Dales herself was in danger. She took an ordinary cold medicine that triggered tachycardia, a heart condition that made it risky for her to become pregnant.

In 2008 Dales adopted her daughter, Camper, a beautiful baby girl from Vietnam. But because of indirect exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical weapon the U.S. military utilized during the Vietnam War, Camper needed emergency open heart surgery. The operation was a success, but it left Camper vulnerable to infections.

Dales went to the drugstore to pick up cold medicines, but she didn’t like the fact that all of them were loaded with synthetic ingredients. Traditional pharmaceuticals had failed both her and husband, and she didn’t want to take any risks with her newborn.

Tired of watching helplessly as illnesses ravaged her family, Dales decided to invent her own remedy.

“I do not accept that there is no solution to the common cold.”

“I do not accept that there is no solution to the common cold,” she said.

Inspired by her love of bees, she began exploring how a honey-based medicine might be more effective than typical drugs. There was already research proving honey could be a viable alternative to antibiotics, and a 2007 study demonstrated that honey could reduce coughing symptoms more than over-the-counter cough medicine.

Because colds brew in nasal passages, Dales designed the drug as a nasal swab that would directly attack the problem. After her mother-in-law blurted out the name during a family gathering, Dales decided to call the product Cold Bee Gone.

It took about two years for Dales to develop her final formulation. During that time she tested honeys from around the world. Her kitchen became a makeshift lab, and the fridge was constantly packed with mason jars full of honey.

“You’re your own guinea pig in the beginning,” Dales admitted.

Luckily her friends and family were willing to try samples and provide valuable feedback. Dales also consulted honey experts such as the late Peter Molan, a New Zealand biochemist who studied the medicinal properties of manuka honey.

From 2011 to 2013 Dales worked with a lab to fully develop the product. She also began the daunting legal process of becoming compliant with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. Her husband, a software developer and “recovering attorney,” was tremendously helpful.

In recent years Cold Bee Gone was only available in local shops such as Vermont Country Store. On April 20, however, CVS will stock the product in 2,500 of their stores across the country.

Cold Bee Gone is one of many examples of how honey-based products and natural medicines have become more mainstream. Burt’s Bees, once a roadside stand in Maine, has been a name brand for years and was recently acquired by Clorox. Honey-based skincare brands are popular on Amazon, and raw honey products are often on display at Whole Foods.

“People want to go back to less chemicals,” Dales said.

When Dales began developing her formula, her daughter was a baby, and it was nearly impossible to find cold medicines with a short list of natural ingredients. Today Camper is a healthy 10-year-old girl, and what began as a mason jar in a fridge is about to explode onto the national scale.

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