Nature is amazing. We can never appreciate it enough. Sometimes, seemingly trivial natural elements can have implications that are profoundly mind-blowing. One such natural element is Bee Propolis. It is a substance coming under increasing scrutiny, despite which, it proves to be more marvelous than envisioned.
The word propolis originates from the Greek language and literally means for the city. Bee propolis is the substance bees make and use for their city or community, i.e. their hive. Bees use it for hive defense and structuring hive layout. It is sticky, waxy, and gooey with its hue depending on it sources. It can be brownish, reddish, or greenish or may have multiple shades depending on its region. Bees coat their hives with it and use it to repair honeycombs. Without it, the hive is susceptible to bacteria and viruses. Bees make propolis from their own discharge, i.e. saliva and beeswax, and botanical elements such as tree sap, tree resin, pollen, and tree & plant exudates. Trees produce resin to seal wounds, prevent fungus, and kill parasites. Exudates are secretions by plants as part of their preservation mechanism. Bee propolis may have some or all of these elements.
Deep analysis has revealed propolis to comprise of over 300 compounds, the majority of which are Polyphenols. The presence of these compounds is responsible for the different properties of bee propolis. Propolis is high in vitamins and minerals, but high flavonoid count is the main contributor of beneficial amino acids and other compounds. Flavonoids are the main polyphenols present. They are plant compounds with high antioxidant activity. Plants produce them to protect themselves. They are commonly found in fruit and vegetables and are vital to a plant’s defense system. Thus, to make Propolis, the immune system of both the bee and the tree/plant is involved. It is to be expected that it will benefit the human immune system as well. Consequentially, bee propolis improves our immune health and helps us fight again viruses such as the flu, sore throat, and common cold.
Propolis has been used since ancient times for healing and remedies, across civilizations. It was used by Greeks, Egyptians, Incas, and Romans amongst many others. However, its primitive usage was restricted and mainly single purpose. It is only now that we are starting to appreciate how beneficial Propolis is. It is used in the manufacture of creams, cosmetics, lotions, and chewing gum. It may also offer utility as a tooth enamel hardener and a dental sealant. It can be used orally or topically.
The body uses Polyphenols to fight disease and injury. Flavonoids, that are Polyphenols are of different types. Pinocembrin is another flavonoid present. It has antifungal properties. Propolis can destroy bacteria, fungi, and parasites when used orally or topically. By blocking the ability to form colonies, Propolis diminishes yeast infections and fungi, which if untreated can spread. Based on its constituent compounds, Bee Propolis is thought to be anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. Its high antioxidant activity boosts our immune systems and improves their functioning. It also helps kill viruses and bacteria and enhances our overall wellbeing.
Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial elements of bee propolis are beneficial for healing wounds. They make Propolis useful for burns, generate healthy cell growth, and spark a speedy recovery. Propolis also effectively reduces symptoms from cold sores and genital herpes sores. The anti-inflammatory properties of Propolis are due to the flavonoids acacetin, quercetin, and naringenin, and have shown to reduce vaginal swellings and improve arthritis. The application of bee propolis will also reduce scarring.
Bee propolis also has antiprotozoal activity. Protozoans are organisms known to cause diseases such as Chagas disease and malaria. Propolis helps our body fight such diseases. Studies suggest that Flavonoids may also be protective against the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation. They may also cause cancer cell death, prevent cancer cell growth, stop cancerous cells from signaling to each other by blocking pathways, and prevent cells from turning cancerous. Though the antitumoral properties of Propolis are still in the early stages of the investigation.
Propolis may also reduce cholesterol and improve blood, liver, and kidney oxidative stress, thereby protecting the liver from injury, toxins, and disease. It can benefit cardiac functioning by lowering the activity of the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase, which causes high blood pressure.
By impeding histamine release propolis can relieve symptoms of allergy rhinitis. It may be able to benefit people with Asthma and provide overall allergy relief. It can also lower upper respiratory tract infections. Bee Propolis also has anti-diabetic properties. Though it does not affect insulin levels or improve insulin resistance, it improves blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
Bee propolis can help treat skin disorders such as Acne and Warts. It has also shown to reduce itching and peeling in athlete’s foot. Propolis with soothe the skin and heal and nourish it. Many compounds in bee propolis nurture skin tissue. Bee propolis is good for digestive health. It reduces digestive tract disorders and can cure the parasitical infection of the intestines. It can also enhance bone density, improve bone health, and heal fractures. By killing bacteria and reducing gum swelling, it can augment oral health as well. For people with dentures, it has shown to reduce oral thrush, improved mouth ulcers, and reduced gum disease. Bee propolis also hinders bacteria that causes cavities.
Bee propolis is an amazing substance. With numerous proven benefits, it is also being studied for many prospective ones. It is already being utilized in a range of products and remedies but retains the potential for countless more uses. It is available in capsules, lozenges, concentrates, ointments, and a further range of targeted products such as mouthwashes and topical medicinal creams. Furthermore, bee propolis from different parts of the world has its own distinct features and its own distinct benefits. This is because the pollen and botanical elements of each region differ. Propolis from different regions serves distinguished specific purposes. The benefits to be reaped from studying and using this fantastic natural resource are limitless.