Propolis coated on the wooden frame of a bee hive
Certain plants exude a sap which has antibiotic qualities to protect plants from infection that may result from wounds. Bees gather this sap, re-metabolize it with their own nectar secretions, and take it back to the hive. They use propolis in the hive to prevent infection. It is used as a wall lining in brood chambers to prevent infection of the lavae, or to coat any foreign object that enters the hive (insects or mice) to prevent infection, and as a sealing agent, to block up any holes in the exterior of the hive.
History of Propolis
Some 20 years ago propolis was 'rediscovered' by a Danish scientist, K. Lung Aagaard and a French doctor, Remy Chauvin. They worked specifically to standardize the quality of this natural product. The use of propolis for medical purposes and to prevent decomposition dates back to the ancient world. In the Middle Ages propolis was used to disinfect the newborns' umbilicus, as a cicatrizing and as a treatment for sore throats.
Some Russian literature from the early 20th century refers to a preparation made of propolis, aromatic herbs and olive oil as an excellent remedy for sore throats and dental caries. For similar purposes propolis was also used in Eastern Medicine. Today hospitals, clinics and universities in many parts of Europe, are testing propolis for the treatment of many illnesses and conditions of immunity.
Properties of Propolis
Propolis is a very complex mixture that varies according to the source it comes from. Propolis is a mixture of resin, essential oils and waxes. Propolis contains amino acid, minerals, ethanol, vitamin A, B complex, E, pollen and highly active ingredients known as flavonoids or bioflavonoids.
Propolis offers antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-fungal, and even antiviral properties. With its antiseptic properties it provides a hospital clean environment for the rearing of brood. Propolis works against bacteria in several ways. One study reported that it prevented bacterial cell division and also broke down bacterial walls and cytoplasm, which is how some prescription antibiotics work. As a antibiotic propolis helps the hive block out viruses, bacteria, and other organisms.
There is evidence that propolis has some broad antimicrobial activity and that it may have anti-inflammatory effects that could make it useful in the treatment of some forms of arthritis, among other disorders. There is also some evidence of anti-cancer activity. (research in Brazil)
Moreover, propolis stimulates the body's immune system and can thus be considered as a food supplement which helps to keep a state of healthiness and wellbeing. Following are the most important properties of propolis given in detail:
- antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral action;
- antioxidant (and, as a outcome, anti-ageing) and anti-rancidity effect;
Propolis on the legs of a bee
Benefits of Propolis
Propolis benefits the treatment of numerous types of illnesses and supplements the natural human diet effectively. It contains a wide variety of nutrients vital to healthy living. Propolis has been shown to stimulate various enzyme systems, cell metabolism, circulation and collagen formation, as well as improve the healing of burn wounds. These effects have been shown to be the result of the presence of arginine in propolis. Ethanol extracts of propolis have been found to transform human hepatic and uterine carcinoma cells in vitro, and to inhibit their growth.
Propolis extract has been used to HELP treat:
- Periodontal disease
- Skin problems (Wound Healing,
- Boost immunity
- Cholesterol Leveling
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Infectious Illnesses (such as cuts, sores, influenza, bacterial infections, pharyngitis and other throat infections, the common cold, and even allergies)
Propolis has shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal effects. It shows activity in cultures against a broad spectrum of pathogens, including influenza and herpes viruses, as well as HIV and various fungal and bacterial organisms.
In a study of school children, an aqueous propolis extract was judged effective in reducing the incidence and intensity of acute and chronic rhinopharyngitis. In another study involving 10 volunteers, it exerted activity against oral bacteria. A Cuban study concluded that propolis is more effective than tinidazole against giardia.
Propolis has a high concentration of caffeic acid esters that some believe may give it some antitumor properties. In two studies, extracts of propolis fed to rats have inhibited azoxymethane-induced colonic tumors.
In vitro studies have shown propolis-related anti-inflammatory effects. Various extracts of propolis have also shown anti-inflammatory activity in animal models, particularly against adjuvant-induced arthritis.
More research is needed to further explore these preliminary findings.
CONTRAINDICATIONS, PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS
Propolis is contraindicated in those who are allergic or hypersensitive to any of its components.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid using propolis supplements.
There are reported adverse reactions in those using topical preparations of propolis. These reactions are manifested as a dermatitis. There are reports of hypersensitivity reactions to ingested propolis, including rhinitis, conjunctivitis, skin rashes and bronchospasm.
No reported overdosage of propolis.
Dosage And Administration
No typical dose. Propolis is available in several different preparations, including lozenges, tablets, creams, gels, mouth rinses, toothpastes and cough syrups.