Most people are familiar with, and even love honey as a natural sweetener. They know the trademark amber and yellow colors from honeycomb and beeswax produced from honeybees. However, bees make more than just honey, and there are other bee-derived ingredients with very powerful health properties. Bees also produce the lesser-known compound called bee propolis, also called bee glue.
Bee propolis is not a new health product. In fact, bee propolis has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at bee propolis, and why it should be the bee product for your medicine cabinet.
What Is Bee Propolis?
What is bee propolis? Propolis is a sticky product made after bees collect resin or sap from evergreens or needle-leaved trees. The mixture is produced when the honeybees combine their saliva with beeswax and exuded substances collected from the sap flows, tree buds, and other botanical sources.
Why is it called bee glue? Propolis is a resinous material that bees use to seal the small gaps or cracks in the hive. In contrast, beeswax seals the larger gaps. Bee propolis is a precautionary measure to keep out harmful fungi and microbes from the beehive. This is very important because if these openings do not get properly sealed, invaders like lizards and snakes could threaten the hive.
The color of propolis will depend on what the bee collects from nature—usually a shade of greenish dark brown. What’s interesting about propolis and honey is that the composition will also depend on the location and collection materials of the bees. For instance, propolis from Brazil often doesn’t have the same chemical makeup as propolis from Europe.
That being said, when scientists do take a closer look at the exact chemical composition of bee propolis, it is discovered that it contains more than 300 natural compounds, including phenolic aldehydes, coumarins, amino acids, sequiterpene quinines, steroids, and polyphenols. In general, propolis is made from 50% resins, 10% essential oils, 30% waxes, five percent of various organic compounds, and five percent pollen.
10 Health Benefits of Bee Propolis
The use of bee propolis dates back to the time of Aristotle and 350 B.C. In ancient times, The Greeks used bee propolis for abscesses, while the Assyrians applied it to minor wounds and tumors to help speed the healing process. The ancient Egyptians also used bee propolis for the mummification process.
Recent research confirms the potent effects of bee propolis against harmful pathogens, and also many other health benefits. Personal experience and science continue to promote the health benefits of bee propolis. The following are some of bee propolis benefits you should definitely keep in mind.
1. Helps treat cancer
There are currently more than 300 studies and articles that focus on bee propolis as a cancer treatment. Research studies show propolis is effective against cancers of the blood, liver, colon, breast, prostate, skin, pancreas, and kidney and bladder, as well as brain, head and neck cancers. Bee propolis contains antitumor and anticancer properties.
Bee propolis also contains polyphenols known as caffeic acid phenethyl esters from Artephillin C from Baccharis propolis, and also poplar propolis. Researchers believe that propolis prevents the development of cancer due to its ability to inhibit DNA synthesis in tumor cells, while also inducing cell death in tumor cells. Research published in the journal, Investigational New Drugs, concluded that propolis extract is extremely useful in cancer treatment.
2. Treats candida
Candida Albicans is a yeast-like fungus that causes a candida infection that commonly affects the intestinal tract, mouth, and the vagina. When the immune system is optimal, candida is rarely a problem. That being said, a poor immune system can lead to candida migrating to other areas like the blood and heart, or brain membranes. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2011, found that bee propolis was the bee product with the highest antifungal activity against 40 yeast strains, including Candida Albicans. Bee pollen and royal jelly were the other bee products tested in the study.
3. Reduces duration and pain of cold sores
The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes herpes infections of the lips and mouth (also called cold sores and fever blisters). Initial symptoms of cold sores include burning and tingling sensations around the edges of the lips, and painful blisters will then form within a few hours, and last a few days. Research has found that a three percent propolis ointment may decrease pain and duration from cold sores.
4. Treats genital herpes
HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes; however, HSV-2 is often considered the main genital herpes cause. In 2000, a study published in the journal, Phytomedicine, found that propolis is more effective than a common genital herpes drug called acyclovir. For the 10-day study, 90 women and men with genital herpes used acyclovir, a placebo ointment, or an ointment with propolis flavonoids, for four times daily.
5. Prevents and treats sore throats and colds
Research has found that bee propolis extract may prevent and shorten the duration of colds and sore throats. One study published in the Romanian Journal of Virology in 1995, found that children given propolis extract during cold season had fewer colds. Other studies have found that propolis extract helped people become symptom-free from the common cold than those in a placebo group.
6. Removes warts
Bee propolis can also help remove warts, which are caused from at least 70 types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2009, found that bee propolis was significantly better in patients with plain and common warts, than those being treated with Echinacea or a placebo.
7. Improves fertility
Studies found that propolis is effective for women with infertility and mild endometriosis. Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue from the uterus attaches to other organs. There is also a strong connection between infertility and endometriosis. The research team found that taking 500 milligrams of bee propolis doses twice daily for six months leads to a 60% pregnancy rate compared to 20% in a placebo group.
8. Heals burns and wounds
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2002, found that propolis was just as effective as a common burn treatment drug called silver sulfadiazine, which is used to treat minor burns. Other studies have found that bee propolis can help speed wound healing in animal experiments.
9. Fights parasites
Giardiasis is a parasitic infection, and is contracted from eating contaminated foods or drinking water. In the 1980s, a study was published in the journal, Acta Gastroenterologica Latinoamericana, and found that propolis extract results in a 60% elimination rate in adults, and a 52% cure rate in children.
10. Prevents dental cavities
Roman and Greek physicians once used bee propolis as a mouth disinfectant. It is no surprise that today’s research shows propolis can be effective against gingivitis and periodontitis. Various studies that found that bee proplis extracts will decrease dental cavities and limit bacterial plaque. Other research shows that propolis may help regenerate bone tissue, cartilage, and dental pulp.
How to Purchase and Use Bee Propolis
You can often find propolis extract, propolis capsules, propolis tincture, propolis tablets, propolis spray, propolis powder, propolis cream, and propolis ointment online and at any health food store. For internal use, there are a lot of options of propolis, including powders, tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts. For sore throats, propolis sprays are often a good solution.
On the other hand, propolis cream or propolis ointment is best for external conditions that call for topical use, such as cold sores or minor wounds. The most typical bee propolis internal dose is 500 milligrams once or twice daily, and for tropical products, it is best to follow label instructions. Consult your natural doctor for the best propolis dosage based on your specific health condition.
In summary, bee propolis contains over 300 natural compounds. As a result, propolis can help treat and prevent various health conditions, including cancer, candida, parasites, warts, colds, cold sores, and dental cavities. However, there are a few precautions to consider with bee propolis. For example, people allergic to conifer or poplar trees, honey, royal jelly, or bee pollen should avoid using propolis, unless first tested for a possible allergy by a specialist.
Propolis may also increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications. For people with parasitic infections, propolis should not be the only treatment until you consult with a doctor. Some also believe propolis can make asthma worse and should be avoided, but research demonstrates that propolis can be helpful for asthmatics. Asthmatics, breastfeeding or pregnant women, and anyone taking medications or with frequent health concerns, it is best to consult with your doctor before making bee propolis a part of your health regimen.
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