The Power of Propolis: Benefits and Uses
You probably have a bottle of honey in your kitchen, and may even be a fan of bee pollen, but have you heard about the other bee-based ingredient that has amazing health benefits? That ingredient is called propolis. What is propolis, you ask? It is a sticky dark brown substance produced by honey bees and is commonly known as “bee glue”, as bees use propolis as a sealant to fill small cracks in the hive.
Bee propolis not only helps to protect the hive from predators and infection but can also inhibit and treat all kinds of unwanted health conditions in humans. In fact, propolis has been used as a natural remedy for centuries and is known for its powerful anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. Read below to discover more about this all-natural healing ingredient.
What is bee propolis?
Propolis can be described as a sticky resin which is produced when honey bees combine their saliva with beeswax and other plant substances. The colour of propolis can vary and is mostly dependent on what substances the bees collect but bee propolis generally is characterised by its dark brown colour. Propolis is very important to maintain a healthy hive- it is used to keep the hive sterile and seal small cracks and gaps to prevent larger predators from attacking the hive. Propolis contains over 300 natural compounds including amino acids, coumarins, phenolic aldehydes, polyphenols, sequiterpene quinines and steroids.
In case you think that propolis is the latest health craze, we are here to inform you that it has been used for centuries and its use is said to date back to Ancient Egyptian times, where it was used during the mummification process. Propolis was also used as a mouth disinfectant and for wound healing by Greek and Roman physicians. Today, propolis is a widely used ingredient found in most health stores and comes in a variety of formats, such as propolis extract, tinctures, creams and balms which can be applied topically, capsules and even powders. The continued popularity of propolis goes to show that it has stood the test of time. Now let’s look at some of the benefits of propolis.
7 propolis benefits
Propolis is rich in antioxidants
Propolis has notable antioxidant properties and the concentrated flavonoids in propolis are the reason for this. Antioxidants have been shown to be capable of scavenging free radicals and thereby protecting lipids and other composites such as vitamin C from deteriorating or being destroyed. Active free radicals and other factors, are responsible for cellular aging and degradation in such conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative damage may also result in poor liver function.
Propolis to prevent tumors
There are over 300 studies on propolis and its ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. There are two propolis polyphenols in particular which seem to be most effective at combatting tumors– caffeic acid phenethyl esters from poplar propolis and Artepillin C from Baccharis propolis. Scientists believe that the ability of propolis to prevent cancer from developing is likely due to its ability to inhibit DNA synthesis in tumor cells and its capability to induce cell death of tumor cells. A 2016 study evaluated the effects of propolis extracts on cancer cell growth. The extracts showed high antioxidant activity as well as high phenolic and flavonoid content. Overall, the propolis extracts showed anticancer activities and extended the survival of animal subjects which had existing tumors. The study concluded that from the findings, the evidence suggested that propolis extract can be considered as a naturally obtained agent extremely useful in cancer treatment.
Propolis as an anti-inflammatory treatment
Inflammation is your body’s response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, irritants and free radicals. Anti-inflammatory activity is the primary effect of the host defense system. Propolis has natural anti-inflammatory effects which can be credited to active its flavonoids and cinnamic acid derivatives. This makes propolis extremely useful for treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, dermatitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Propolis and Dental care
Propolis is used in oral cavity diseases as it contains flavonoids such as pinobanksin, quercetin, naringenin, galangine, chrysin, and aromatic acids such as caffeic acid determined by GC-MS analysis. A recent study evaluated the effects of propolis on oral health, and it was found that it significantly reduced outbreaks of ulcers, and has strong anti-microbial properties which help to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth, contributing to better oral health.
Propolis as an Antibacterial agent
There has been a steady increase in bacterial resistance, which has led to increased illness, death and healthcare costs, which highlight the need for an alternative to traditional antibiotics. A recent study was conducted whereby the effects of propolis on 13 different strains of bacteria were tested. The study concluded that propolis shows significant antimicrobial potential on certain pathogens and could be used to fight bacteria which have become resistant to traditional medicines. Propolis can aid in the treatment of colds and flu, food poisoning, meningitis and pneumonia and other bacteria-caused infections.
Propolis as an Antifungal remedy
Propolis has shown fungicidal effects on various types of fungi, which is due to the flavonoids found in propolis. It has also been observed that propolis effectively inhibits the growth of certain strains of fungi, making it an excellent alternative to traditional fungal treatments. Propolis is effective at treating fungal conditions such as athletes foot and ringworm.
Propolis for vaginal use
It is believed that propolis may be effective at treating chronic vaginal infections. A study was conducted whereby patients that have undergone at least one round of antibiotics and were susceptible to vaginal infections applied propolis topically to the genital area for 7 days. The study concluded that 87% of participants experienced relief from symptoms and after 6 months, 60% of patients were satisfied with their condition without having undergone further treatment, which substantiates the claim that propolis can be used as an alternative treatment for vaginal infections.
Propolis comes in a variety of formats-from creams, balms, gels and toothpastes to extracts, tinctures and even powders, making it a very versatile product. With all the wonderful healing properties of propolis, it’s no wonder that we have included it as an ingredient in every single one of our products.
Have you tried any propolis-based products yet? Let us know in the comment section below.