What is Propolis?

Propolis is considered one of ‘Nature’s miracles’ and is an all-natural substance, most commonly consumed by humans in supplement or tincture from. It contains protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and is rich in beneficial antioxidants. It is widely recognized as an immune system stimulant due to its natural antimicrobial properties but has many other health-enhancing qualities too. So, what exactly is propolis?

Propolis is a golden-dark brown resinous substance that worker bees gather and pack on their hind legs from the sap of trees, shrubs and flower blossoms. This is then carried back to their colony and combined with beeswax. It’s then used by the bees as a sealant and sterile agent in and around the hive. The bees use propolis to protect their colony against disease, fungal infections and dangerous toxins. The word Propolis is derived from the Greek word pro (before) polis (city). Ancient beekeepers observed that the bees often built a wall with Propolis at the front opening of the hive (“before the city”).

Propolis has been recognized for centuries by humans for its health enhancing qualities. Ancient Greek texts refer to this substance as a cure for bruises and healing wounds and for its effective treatment of mouth and throat infections as well as dental caries. Even with our most sophisticated health technologies of today, we cannot reproduce the unique blend of natural components present in propolis as achieved by the honeybees.

Scientists have revealed that the most important pharmacologically active ingredients in propolis are Flavones, Flavonols and Flavanones, collectively referred to as ‘flavonoids’. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants. A large number of studies have shown that they have an inhibitory effect on a variety of bacteria and fungi microorganisms. Propolis has been shown to be effective in inhibiting the growth of yeasts and fungi responsible for such skin infections as ringworm and athlete’s foot. Propolis has been shown to stimulate various enzyme systems, cell metabolism, circulation and collagen formation, as well as being helpful in improving the healing of burn wounds.

Often touted as “Nature’s Antibiotic”, Propolis may assist with healing many infections and health problems including:

  • Bronchitis
  • Arthritis
  • Ulcers
  • Ear infections
  • Viral diseases
  • Acne
  • Gum disease
  • Colds and flu
  • Sinusitis
  • Burns and wounds

Researched therapeutic properties of propolis include:

  • Antiseptic properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Antifungal properties
  • Immuno-stimulant properties
  • Antiviral properties
  • Anesthetic properties
  • Antimicrobial properties

If you have had an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction to bee stings or bee products (including honey), you could react to propolis in the same way so please check with your health professional before consuming propolis or using it topically.

Article by Renée Leonard-Stainton, Naturopath & Nutritionist

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