For centuries, propolis, a resin-like material that bees use to repair and seal in the small gaps or exposed spaces in their hive, was used by Ancient Greeks and Romans. However, somewhere in the course of history, knowledge about this amazing substance was lost. Until recently, many people weren't aware of the benefits of this substance, but lately the word has gotten out again.
The purest form of propolis comes from the buds of poplar and other cone-bearing trees. However, the best way to obtain it is from beehives. Aside from the residue collected by bees from the sap, bark or buds of these trees and other plant sources, propolis also contains pollen, nectar, wax and other bee by-products. It's useful as a cementing agent in the hive, preventing fungal infections and other pollutants from getting into the spaces where the colony keeps their food. It also acts as the bees’ protection from the elements, especially in colder months.
Health Benefits of Propolis
Propolis has anti-inflammatory properties that help heal the skin from minor burns and scalds. It can be applied as a topical ointment on the affected area of the skin. Its antibiotic and antifungal effects can guard against wound infections and other skin disorders.
In the same way that propolis protects the beehive from bacteria and fungi in the environment, it's also very effective in eliminating bacterial and fungal infections in the mouth area. Examples of these are oral yeast infections (common in people who wear dentures), dental caries and cold sores. It's sold in many countries in the form of lozenges and mouth rinse, which can effectively cure sore throat.
The antibacterial properties of propolis guard the body against bacteria that can cause tuberculosis and gastrointestinal diseases. It's also attributed to be an antiviral agent that can fight the onset of common colds, flu, and even H1N1 swine flu.
The potent antiviral properties of propolis can hinder the herpes virus from entering and further infecting the cells in the body.
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition affecting the lining of a woman’s uterus. It can cause serious discomforts ranging from menstrual cramps to infertility. Studies have shown that Propolis not only provides relief from the symptoms of endometriosis, it's also free from side effects otherwise encountered with hormonal therapy. It was reported that more than half of the women who regularly took propolis for their endometriosis-related infertility were actually able to conceive.
Clinical tests yielded sufficient evidence that propolis possesses essential properties that can help in cancer treatment and prevention. Trials revealed that the substance can inhibit the growth of tumors by cutting off the blood supply to the affected cells. Propolis also helps boost the immune system, giving the body a greater chance of fighting off the devastating effects of cancer.
Safety Precautions when using Propolis
As with any supplement or natural extract, you should exercise caution before adding it into your daily nutritional regime. Some doctors warn women who are pregnant or nursing to refrain from taking propolis. People with allergies to bees and bee by-products should be particularly careful. Additionally, some research has shown that propolis can aggravate asthma.
Armed with the knowledge about the health benefits, as well as some useful safety tips to consider when using this substance, there is no doubt that propolis will no longer be an unfamiliar word to many from now on.