All About Propolis
From ancient Greece to 21st century cutting-edge medicine, propolis has supported both human and bee health for millennia. But what is propolis? How is propolis made? What are propolis health benefits, and where can you get propolis honey in Canada? Read on to find out!
What is bee propolis? A definition of propolis
Propolis definition says that it is “a red or brown resinous substance collected by honeybees from tree buds, used by them to fill crevices and to fix and varnish honeycombs.”
Bees tend to keep their honeycombs pretty airtight. Propolis, a sticky resin that gets very hard when it dries, comes useful to patch the holes, cracks, and crevices honeycomb frames. That is why propolis is nicknamed “bee glue.”
However, there is more to it. Researchers have confirmed that bee propolis has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Therefore, propolis is not just a physical, but also a biochemical barrier designed to stop and kill the pathogens before they reach the hive’s precious combs.
It is no wonder that the name “propolis” comes from two Greek words “Pro”, which means “in front of”, and “Polis”, which means “city”. Combined, they mean “in defense of the city” - quite a poetic image of a beehive. And it is not just passive defense - the bees will wrap the intruders they eliminate in propolis resin to stop the spread of foreign microbes. That is why it has another nickname - “bee penicillin.”
How do bees make propolis?
Bees purposefully make propolis by collecting tree sap and resin from tree buds. They carry it back to the hive in pollen baskets on their legs. Then, the bees mix the resins with wax, honey, and their own enzymes.
How is Propolis Harvested?
Propolis is harvested from the beehives either by scraping it off the wooden frames or by fixing special frames with cells that increase the airflow to the hive. Bees will naturally move to patch these “holes” by using the magic “bee glue.”
The composition of propolis
At the end of the process, the novel substance known as propolis will contain about 50% of resins, 30% of waxes, 10% of essential oils, 5% of pollen, and 5% of plant debris. Because of the variety of tree resins present at different localities, each bee colony’s propolis is unique (more on that later).
Somewhere among those percentages lurks the real worth of propolis - around 300 bioactive compounds. The majority of them are polyphenols, antioxidants that fight diseases
History of Propolis Use
The healing properties of propolis were known long before modern science entered the stage. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all knew about them and used propolis extensively to promote health. Ancient Egyptians used propolis to embalm their mummies, while the great Aristotle himself is credited with coining the word “propolis”, according to some sources.
The dark Middle age in the West saw a decline in propolis use, but it survived in folk medicine and conveniently made a comeback during the Renaissance.
After the Second World War, the advancements in science made it possible to finally prove the benefits of propolis.
Medical conditions and health challenges that conventional pharmacology doesn’t offer solutions to keep the interest in propolis very alive to this day.
Propolis health benefits are really stunning. The wide-range anti-microbial and anti-oxidant activity of propolis make it a great ally in fighting a number of alignments.
Propolis helps with:
- Wound healing
- Healing burns
- Speeding up the regrowth of healthy cells
- Healing cold sores (herpes)
- Healing genital herpes
- Preventing and stopping respiratory infections such as strep throat
- Gum infections and possibly tooth decay
- Healing oral mucositis after dental procedures or chemotherapy
- Getting rid of warts.
- Respiratory infection prevention and reduction
- Boosting immune function
Plenty of research support that propolis also has:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Anti-carcinogenic properties
- Antibacterial properties
- Antiviral properties
- Antifungal properties
Is propolis antiviral?
Propolis contains plenty of phenolic compounds that are well-known natural antivirals. A study has shown that propolis effect on a Herpes virus was comparable to the effect of a commercial antiviral. But, it gets even better - when researchers used them together, propolis seemed to boost the effects of antiviral drugs against the virus.
Another study investigated propolis’s influence on HIV-1 and found that it inhibited viral entry. As with Herpes antivirals, propolis also showed a synergetic additive effect on one of the two HIV-1 antivirals used in the study (zidovudine).
These studies support a large number of anecdotal claims about propolis being effective against many types of viral infections.
What is green propolis and how it looks like?
As said earlier, the exact properties and composition of propolis will largely depend on the woody plants available in the area. You probably know that most kinds of propolis are brown. But what is green propolis?
Green propolis is a specific kind of propolis that comes from Brazil, so it is also known as Brazilian propolis. Bees derive it from native plants, most notably the South American medicinal plant Baccharis dracunculifolia.
Its superstar active ingredient is Artepillin C (3,5-diprenyl-4-hydroxycinnamic acid), a unique compound that shows anti-tumor activity in the studies, along with many other anti-oxidant properties. A growing body of research aimed at Artepillin C is finding it efficient against a wide range of cancers.
By processing of raw propolis in different ways, beekeepers and their associates create a variety of propolis products. Each of them has unique features and can be used to satisfy a different set of consumer’s needs.
Best way to take bee propolis
How do you take propolis? That is a common question with no single answer because there is no one best way to take propolis. It depends on your current condition and needs.