Top 6 Benefits of Propolis

 In Facts, Health & Wellness, Propolis, Propolis Care

Propolis is the best thing since sliced bread!

Actually, it’s better than sliced bread, since the first automatic bread slicer was only invented in 1928, and humans have been using the medicinal properties since the dawn of time.

The original manufacturers (the bees) use propolis, or “bee glue” to strengthen and seal up small cracks and holes in the hive. The bees produce this resinous mixture by mixing their saliva and beeswax with substances like tree sap and other botanical sources.

This is primarily used by bees for the structural integrity and safety of their hives. The amazing part is that this dark brown mixture, made by tiny little insects, has the most therapeutic and medicinal properties you could ever imagine!

What makes Propolis special?

If you just found out about the wonderful abilities of propolis, please rest assured that this isn’t just another “health craze”. Throughout human history documentation has been found where propolis was used medicinally. The product’s use has been said to date back to Aristotle times (350BC), Ancient Egypt used it in their mummification processes and the ancient Greeks and Assyrians used it for its wound and tumour healing abilities.

Recently scientists have started testing the substance to see why something made by bees would be so beneficial to human health and wound healing. During testing, they found that propolis contains over 300 natural compounds, including amino acids, coumarins, phenolic aldehydes, polyphenols, sesquiterpene quinines as well as steroids.

In general, raw propolis is made up of approximately 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen and 5% various organic compounds. The interesting thing about propolis, which is also true for honey, is that its composition is always going to vary depending upon the exact collection time, collection location and plant sources.

Science and personal experience continue to show that bee propolis remains an incredibly medicinal substance today. Now, let’s look at some specific propolis benefits.

6 Health Benefits of Bee Propolis

1. Propolis may help to combat cancer

One of our favourite bee propolis benefits is that it appears to possess anti-tumoural and anticancer properties. There are currently over 300 scientific studies and articles focusing on propolis and cancer treatment. Two propolis polyphenols in particular seem to be the most potent anti-tumour agents. They are caffeic acid phenethyl esters from poplar propolis and Artepillin C from Baccharis propolis. Scientists believe that the ability for propolis to prevent cancer from developing in both animal models and human cell cultures is likely the result of its ability to inhibit DNA synthesis in tumour cells, as well as its capability to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of tumour cells.

A 2016 study evaluated the effects of propolis extracts from the northern region of Thailand on cancer cell growth. All of 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 who already had tumours. This study concludes, “From these findings, it is evident that propolis extracts can be considered as a naturally obtained agent extremely useful in cancer treatment.”

2. Treats Candida Symptoms

Candida or candidiasis is an infection caused by Candida Albicans, a yeast-like fungus. This is the most common type of yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, and it may affect the skin and other mucous membranes. If the immune system is functioning optimally, this type of yeast infection is rarely serious. However, if the immune system is not functioning properly, the candida infection can migrate to other areas of the body, including the blood and membranes around the heart or brain.

A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that propolis extract inhibited oral candidiasis in 12 patients with denture-related inflammation and candidiasis. Other research published in 2011 in the Journal of Medicinal Food revealed that propolis seems to be the bee product with the highest antifungal activity. This was demonstrated by its effect on 40 different yeast strains, including Candida Albicans. Other bee products tested included honey, bee pollen and royal jelly.

3. Stops Cold Sores Reproduction

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections are extremely common. HSV-1 is the main cause of herpes infections on the mouth and lips, which are commonly known as cold sores and fever blisters. The herpes virus can live dormant inside a person’s immune system for a lifetime, periodically causing blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before healing. When left alone, herpes cold sores usually last about 10 to 14 days and are uncomfortable for a variety of reasons — causing redness, pain, burning and often embarrassment. HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes, but HSV-2 is the main cause of genital herpes.

The good news is that test tube studies have demonstrated that propolis can stop both HSV-1 and HSV-2 from reproducing. A study of people with genital herpes compared an ointment with propolis to Zovirax ointment, which is a common conventional treatment for genital herpes that lessens the symptoms of the infection. What did researchers find? The subjects using the propolis ointment had their lesions heal faster than those using the topical Zovirax ointment. Another study also revealed that a 3 percent propolis ointment can possibly reduce the pain and duration of cold sores. This explains why many natural lip balms designed for cold sore and fever blister treatment contain propolis.

4. Prevents and Treats Common Cold and Sore Throats

Scientific studies have shown that propolis extracts may naturally prevent as well as shorten the duration of the common cold, which can often include a dreaded sore throat. One study administered an aqueous propolis extract to a group of very young school children for the entire duration of a year’s “cold season.” The exact daily dose is not given, but the children treated with propolis had fewer colds with acute or chronic symptoms. The propolis extract was also tolerated well.

In another scientific evaluation regarding the effects of bee propolis on the common cold, the group taking propolis extract (amount not indicated) became free of symptoms faster than the placebo group. Specifically, the cold symptoms for the propolis takers went away two and half times quicker than the subjects who took a placebo.

5. Fights Parasites

Giardiasis is a parasitic infection that can occur in the small intestine and is caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. You can contract giardiasis from contact with infected people or by eating contaminated food or drinking water. A clinical trial looked at the effects of propolis extract on 138 giardiasis patients, both adults and children. The researchers found that the propolis extract resulted in a 52% cure rate in children and a 60% elimination rate in adults.

6. Improves Fertility for Females with Endometriosis

A pilot randomized controlled trial looked at the effects of propolis supplementation on women with infertility and mild endometriosis. The researchers found that taking bee propolis at a dose of 500 milligrams twice a day for six months resulted in a pregnancy rate of 60% compared to only 20% in the placebo group. Studies have yet to show if propolis can also benefit infertile women without endometriosis.

Uses for Propolis:

These are some specific and studied ways that bee propolis can be utilized:

Common Cold and Sore Throat: 500 milligrams one to two times per day.
Cold Sores: Apply propolis ointment to the cold sore four times per day.
Genital Herpes: Apply a 3% propolis ointment to the lesions four times per day.
Female Infertility and Endometriosis: 500 milligrams two times per day.
Yeast Infection: Apply an alcohol extract containing 2 grams per 25 millilitres four times per day.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Apply a topical product according to package directions.
Parasites: Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner on product and dosing.

Bee Propolis Precautions:

People who are allergic to honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, conifer or poplar trees should not use propolis unless tested first by an allergy specialist.

Propolis may increase the risk of bleeding in people who take blood-thinning medications or who have bleeding disorders. Since propolis may slow blood clotting, you stop taking propolis at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

When it comes to parasitic infections like giardiasis, propolis should not be used as the only treatment for parasites without first consulting a physician.

If you have asthma, some experts advise avoiding propolis completely since it’s believed that some chemicals in propolis may make asthma worse. However, there has also been research that demonstrates the helpful effects of propolis for asthmatics. If you have asthma, speak with your doctor before taking propolis.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your health care provider before taking propolis. If you have any ongoing health concerns or are taking any medications, check with your doctor before using propolis.

Final Thoughts on Propolis:

Bee propolis has been serving honey bees and humans for centuries. While the honeybees use it to keep their hives whole and invader-free, humans use bee propolis both internally and externally for medicinal purposes.

Isn’t it fascinating how bees can produce so many health benefits in one product? Science is really showing just how valuable propolis is when it comes to our health. I’m talking about everything from cancer to infertility to candida to the common cold. The list goes on, and I’m sure bee propolis will only continue to amaze us in the years and studies to come.

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