There are a number of various products that come from beehives which have been studied, including propolis, the resinous substance the insects use to glue the materials of their hives together by combining beeswax and other secretions with resins from the buds of poplar and conifer trees.
This substance has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for healing wounds and relieving a host of ailments ranging from itching and acne to tuberculosis, osteoporosis and even cancer. Recent findings have confirmed its powerful abilities against many harmful pathogens as well as multiple healing benefits, thanks to its proven antiseptic and antibiotic effects, along with potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
1. A natural antibiotic:
Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly growing problem in today’s world, in large part due to the overuse of antibiotic drugs. It’s a significant concern across the globe that the World Health Organization has cautioned that if major changes aren’t made soon, the world just might be headed to a “post-antibiotic era” in which diseases that were once controlled by modern medicine could become a threat once again. People have been advised to limit their use of antibiotics and look to alternatives unless facing a dire emergency.
Researchers have found that propolis may be one of the better alternatives due to its potent antibiotic properties that have been shown to be effective against many types of bacteria, including staph. According to herbalist James Green, “These properties work to raise the body’s natural resistance to disease by stimulating and rejuvenating the body’s own immune system. The saliva becomes activated by the resins, and as the saliva is continually swallowed it efficiently distributes the antimicrobial components of the propolis throughout the throat and adjacent areas.”
“Offers the same immediate action as laboratory produced antibiotics, but without toxic or other side effects.” - Author Ray Hill
2. Supporting oral health:
During ancient times, Roman and Greek physicians were said to have used propolis as a mouth disinfectant, and modern scientific studies today have shown that it offers beneficial properties for oral health. Due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and analgesic properties, it’s been found to be effective for treating gingivitis and periodontitis, as well as for reducing cavities and limiting bacterial plaque. And, it may even be a good natural alternative to fluoride.
3. Boosting the immune system:
The immune system plays a crucial role in sustaining one’s health and vitality. It helps to protect the body from disease and infection and has a key part in longevity and the aging process in general. A weak immune system makes one more susceptible to contracting disease and illness, some of which can develop into serious, or even life-threatening conditions like cancer.
In a deteriorating immune system, cell degeneration results, but we may be able to slow that process by introducing certain compounds like propolis which are rich in flavonoids. Propolis is believed to work by promoting cellular regeneration while supporting the immune system through its cell building compounds thanks to its range of flavonoids.
Ancient cultures that used propolis like the Egyptians, found that it was able to accelerate the healing of cuts, bruises and other minor wounds. Science has proven those effects as well.
4. Lowering blood pressure:
As the inner lining of the blood vessels need nitric oxide for signaling the smooth muscles that surround them to relax and ultimately increase blood flow, it’s a very important substance for a healthy heart.
5. Treating allergies:
While people sensitive or allergic to bee stings and/or bee products could develop a reaction to propolis, in others it can be used to actually treat allergies, particularly calming the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
One interesting study found that Brazilian propolis clearly demonstrated that it may be effective in the “relief of allergic rhinitis symptoms through inhibition of histamine release”. While antihistamines are the main type of allergy medication sold over the counter, it seems that propolis may be just as effective, without all of those annoying side effects.
6. Combating the effects of food poisoning:
A 2012 study out of Falavarjan, Iran’s Islamic Azad University, analyzed the antimicrobial activity of propolis against germs that cause what’s most commonly known as food poisoning.
The researchers concluded that propolis may be used to support traditional therapies for infection, particularly when antibiotics don’t have an effect against the micro-organisms. Although the strength of propolis can vary depending on geographic location, its protective benefits remain constant. Part of the reason for this is believed to be due to its high level of various flavonoids, as mentioned previously.
7. Get rid of warts:
If you’ve ever had one, you know how hard warts can be to get rid of, even with some type of prescription medication. Fortunately, eliminating warts is yet another one of the many benefits of propolis. As reported in the November 2009 issue of International Journal of Dermatology, a single-blind, randomized, three-month trial conducted on 135 patients with various types of warts were given either oral propolis, echinacea, or a placebo. The scientists discovered the powerful substance managed to cure 75% of patients, significantly better than the results achieved with either the placebo or echinacea.
8. Fighting ear infections:
Ear infections are common in children especially, with millions suffering from them every year, though many adults get them occasionally too. Serious ear infections can even lead to temporary hearing loss.
Many parents have been at a loss as to what to do after their children suffered from recurring painful ear infections, and some, have found relief from propolis when nothing else has worked. Their experiences have been backed by science too.
9. Improving skin health:
For skin care use, the antiviral and antimicrobial action that propolis provides offers fantastic benefits. It’s particularly beneficial for those suffering from acne as well as people who are living in polluted environments, which includes most people living on our planet today. Propolis forms a barrier, similar to the ways the bees use it, in addition to containing lots of important nutrients to nourish the skin.
As noted earlier, the ancient Egyptians were known to use propolis, and that includes the legendary Queen Cleopatra – she used it to help achieve her beautiful complexion. Reportedly, after enjoying the effects of a honey and camel’s milk bath, she wanted to find the “next big thing.” That’s when she discovered propolis, which was being used during the embalming process. In addition to offering restorative, antiseptic and healing abilities, it can help to balance and soothe problem skin, while accelerating cell growth and decongesting pores.
10. Preventing respiratory infections:
A 2004 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the March issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, discovered some evidence that propolis when combined with vitamin C and echinacea, may help prevent respiratory tract infections in children.
11. Healing cold sores:
Propolis may be effective for battling the common cold sore. Researchers found that aqueous and ethanolic propolis extracts were able to alter the virus population on vitro cells after virus attachment. When used in a topical solution, they concluded, that propolis causes cold sores to heal quickly and reduces some of the pain as well.