Along with delicious honey, honey bees make a second product called bee propolis. Globally, people are enjoying the health benefits of this sticky resin-like mixture.
Long valued for its medicinal benefits, records of propolis being harvested from beehives and nests are available in ancient medical books.
Just like honey, its use as a complementary and alternative medicine. This use of propolis goes as far back as the ancient Persian and Roman empires.
Both honey bees and humans value the antiseptic nature of propolis. Now widely available to buy in various forms, propolis has many uses for enhancing health.
It seems like the bee products our industrious friends provide us are never-ending. To name a few, we have honey, honeycombs, beeswax, and royal jelly. And now, we have bee propolis.
Let’s take a look at what bee propolis is and how it should form part of our household remedies for a healthy lifestyle.
What is Bee Propolis?
Honey bees use propolis to strengthen and repair parts of the hive. When there are small gaps in the hive, honey bees seal them up with propolis.
What is bee propolis made of?
Produced by honey bees, bee propolis is a mixture of materials from tree buds, tree sap, beeswax, and bee saliva. Propolis is generally a yellowy-orange hue. However, the color and composition of propolis can vary in different regions. This is due to the fact that different trees are favored by honey bees for propolis-making in different countries. Because of this, the color and composition can be darker or lighter.
Due to the non-definite composition of every propolis, it is hard to ascertain its exact chemical composition. Some conducted human studies provide non-conclusive results.
Bee Propolis is found in honey bee hives and nests globally. Besides being a sealant for gaps in hives, you can also find it as a lining within cavities.
Fun fact: Bee Propolis is also known as bee glue because of how bees use the sticky residue in the hive for fixing little spaces.
How is Propolis Collected?
There are two main methods of collecting bee propolis.
The traditional method is to simply scrape propolis off frames when collecting honey.
The newer method is to use a purpose-built propolis trap or mat. These plastic devices look like drip mats used on a kitchen draining board. The holes in a propolis mat are irresistible to worker bees. They fill every crack and crevice they find with bee glue.
What are the Health Benefits of Bee Propolis?
Bee propolis is packed full of polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant, and other healthy compounds.
The antioxidant compounds are believed by many to combat bacteria that cause sickness.
People who are into complementary and alternative medicine also believe that bee propolis may also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The healing properties of propolis cover many health problems. It includes common cold sores, mouth sores, oral mucositis, and upper respiratory tract infections, to name a few.
Some avid users have shared that these healing properties of propolis are effective in battling cancer cells.
Propolis is rich in caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a medicinal compound. A clinical study on breast cancer patients revealed that CAPE inhibits the growth of some cancer cells. Because of this, further study may be able to delineate how propolis can help treat breast cancer.
A pilot study showed that faster healing of oral mucositis is possible with the use of honey products and propolis. There are also promising results in the treatment of oral mucositis among breast cancer patients from another pilot study.
A clinical trial entitled “Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Propolis for Oral Mucositis in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer” also concluded that the use of propolis mouthwash by people undergoing chemotherapy may help promote better oral health. The effect of propolis in patients was positive as shown in this clinical trial.
Does bee propolis kill viruses?
Propolis may also fight herpes simplex virus type 1. This is the virus type that causes cold sores and inflammations in the mouth.
With its powerful ingredients, many people believe that propolis helps fight infection by killing harmful bacteria. Propolis can also help strengthen your immune system making you more resistant to illness and quicker at healing.
Though there is a lack of clinical study on the specific effects of propolis as a topical solution for skin problems, people have attested that the use of propolis as a topical ointment has proven beneficial for them.
Used topically, propolis treats wounds like burns, cuts, abrasions, and skin inflammation. The antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of propolis products speed up the healing process for skin wounds.
It contains flavonoids that aids in wound healing and can cure genital herpes when applied topically. Many skincare and ointment products use propolis as an ingredient.
Propolis health benefits for the skin include helping with acne and anti-aging. The antioxidants in propolis are soothing for inflamed, red skin. Propolis is available for skincare use in cream and tincture form.
When to take Bee Propolis
Bee propolis may be taken daily as part of a healthy diet. Always read the label for product guidelines. Again, talk to your doctor first before using propolis or any of its by-products to avoid further health problems.
Where to buy Propolis
A wider range of health food stores and pharmacies are beginning to stock bee propolis cream, extracts, sprays, and capsules. They are also widely available online from the likes of Amazon.
Consult a medical professional before using any product containing propolis. What works for one person might not suit the next. Hence, it is always best to check with your doctor first to avoid side effects or further complications.
Setting that aside, we would recommend that you use propolis in its purest form. Or at least, choose one without any additives or harmful chemicals. That way, it retains its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
What is Bee Propolis Tincture?
Bee propolis tincture is a liquid form of propolis. The tincture form soothes cold sores, burns, and mouth ulcers.
Propolis throat spray is a popular form of this powerful substance. Used daily as a daily immunity booster or as advised, these propolis products promote better oral health and general wellness.
Available for all members of the family, there are many versions available with varying recipes.
Some of our favorites include:
Extracts generally come in tinctures. While some products come with a mixture of alcohol, there are products that come purely as it is.
Capsules are a popular choice for people who want to use bee propolis to support and strengthen their immune systems.
Bee Propolis FAQs
Since ancient times, the anti-viral properties of propolis have long been acknowledged. So, yes, bee propolis is believed to have anti-viral qualities.
Is Propolis Safe? What are the side effects of propolis?
If you have allergic reactions to bees, bee pollen, or their products, including honey, do not use or ingest propolis.
Some propolis products contain traces of honey, hence, it is not advisable for infants and children under two years old.
If you are unsure, check with your doctor before using propolis.
What is bee propolis good for?
Bee propolis has properties considered beneficial to enhancing a healthy lifestyle. Propolis may help in healing upper respiratory tract infections, improve oral health, prevents blood clotting, assist in wound healing.
Propolis may help to boost immune response.
Take note, however, that the effects of propolis and its use vary from one person to another. Currently, there are limited evidence-based human studies to conclude that propolis benefits all people.
Does Bee Propolis Help Allergies?
There are studies underway to ascertain if bee propolis may be beneficial for people with allergies and even asthma. Individuals have reported finding it beneficial.
Is Bee Propolis Vegan?
Produced by bees, propolis is not vegan. Do not use propolis in a vegan diet,
Does Bee Propolis Expire?
Stored in an airtight container, propolis should last for 12 months. If not stored properly, propolis may expire sooner.