Bee Propolis Research
Bee propolis is a strange substance which, at first, one might be a little leery of using to supplement a diet. Bees create propolis by combining sap from trees, flower buds, and other botanical sources with their saliva and natural beeswax. Along with beeswax, propolis comprises the structure of beehives. With antifungicidal and antimicrobial properties, propolis is used by bees to prevent diseases and parasites from attacking the hive. This may seem like a strange substance, but studies have shown that it imparts the same qualities within the human body as it does for the beehive.
In effect, propolis was the first antibiotic ever discovered. It has been used by for over two thousand years by civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to help keep wounds, lesions, and burns from getting infected. Ever since then, peoples all over Europe have used propolis to treat a number of conditions, including acne, arthritis, and all manner of infection. Current medical research has supported those ancient practices and taken then a step further, testing its effect as a treatment for common bacteria.
Staphylococcus aureus causes many surgical infections, pneumonia, and blood poisoning. It is incredibly dangerous, because five to ten percent of all hospitalized patients in the U.S. develop these staph infections. Multiple medical journals have documented the activity of propolis as a growth inhibitor for S. aureus. Specifically, certain extracts in propolis – isoferulic, sinapic, and caffeic acids – have been shown to stop staph infections from becoming serious.
Another study showed that propolis, combined with traditional antibiotics, had a “marked synergistic effect” on their anti-staph activity. Other studies have shown that propolis inhibits various species of staph bacteria causing tooth decay and strep throat. Fascinatingly, keeping a piece of propolis under the tongue is an old-time beekeepers’ remedy for sore throat. Recent medical journal reports have shown that propolis has significant antiviral capabilities as well, making it effective in helping to treat upper respiratory infections such as influenza and the common cold.
As a potential anti-cancer agent, the caffeic acids in propolis have been shown to prevent precancerous tissue from forming in the colon. More research needs to be done to prove this conclusively, but with the overall health benefits already shown by propolis, one would not be surprised.
Finally, propolis is a noted antioxidant, useful for fighting free radicals within the body. Its flavonoids and ethanols have been shown to function similarly to Vitamin E, and help to keep free radicals from causing damage to the cellular organs that deal with the transformation of fats into energy.
As a supplement, propolis is better used in a preventative capacity, rather than as treatment. If you have an allergy to bee stings or honey, you should avoid taking propolis. Likewise, if you have a history of reactions to pine resins, you should consult with a doctor or health professional before including propolis in your supplemental regimen. Despite all that, the health benefits of propolis have been proven time and again, for thousands of years. Whether you use it in tablet, capsule, or lotion form, its proven antifungal, antibiotic, and antioxidant qualities can help you maintain a healthy immune system.