May 23, 2024

Propolis: Nature’s Pharmacy for Health and Wellness” – Natural Healing, Bee Products, Propolis

What is Propolis?
Bees use propolis to seal unwanted open spaces in their hives and smooth out the internal walls. Propolis has natural antibiotic and antifungal properties that help protect the hive from germs and invaders. Bees have been using propolis for thousands of years, and humans have slowly begun to realize its potential health benefits as well.

Chemical Composition of Propolis
The chemical composition of propolis can vary depending on the plants in the particular region from which bees gather it. However, it typically contains 50% resin and vegetable balsam, 30% wax, 10% essential and aromatic oils, 5% pollen, and 5% other organic compounds. Some of the primary compounds that give propolis its antimicrobial properties include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and esters. These compounds are antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.

Antimicrobial Properties of Propolis
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of propolis is its potent antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that propolis can inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Some of the specific germs propolis has shown activity against include Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, and even the influenza virus. These antimicrobial effects are what helped bees use propolis for millennia to sterilize their hives and protect against invaders.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits of Propolis
In addition to its antimicrobial abilities, propolis has anti-inflammatory properties as well. Laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated that components in Propolis  like caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the release of inflammatory compounds like nitric oxide, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes. Some research also found propolis extracts to be beneficial for reducing inflammation associated with dental diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis.

Wound Healing Properties of Propolis
Applied topically, propolis can accelerate wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Studies with rats and mice found that propolis promoted more rapid wound closure while reducing scarring compared to untreated wounds. The flavonoids in propolis help stimulate collagen production for repairs, while blocking chemicals involved in scar formation. Propolis may therefore have potential to speed recovery of burns, cuts, or post-surgical incisions in humans.

Potential for Cancer Prevention
Another promising area of research involves propolis’ potential cancer-fighting abilities. Laboratory research has found that components in propolis can induce cancer cell death or slow cancer cell growth. Studies involving human cancer cell lines demonstrated propolis extract inhibited tumor initiation and development in cells linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of propolis are believed to help prevent cellular damage that could otherwise lead to cancerous mutations over time. More clinical studies are still needed, but propolis shows promise as a supportive adjunct to cancer treatment or prevention strategies.

Boosting Immune Function
Taking propolis supplements could help support the immune system due to its vast array of antioxidant and antibacterial compounds. Some research with animals and human cells links certain propolis compounds to increased immune cell activity, enhancement of immune-related cell-signaling pathways, and elevated levels of antiviral-type immune-system cytokines. A balanced immune function is important for warding off infections and diseases. Propolis’ prebiotic properties may also support a healthier gut microbiome linked to strong immunity. More research is still needed, but propolis could serve as an immune-boosting adjunct.

Other Potential Benefits
Propolis is also being studied for possible benefits in treating viral infections beyond just influenza, improving gastrointestinal health, lowering blood pressure, regulating blood sugar levels, protecting liver function, boosting male fertility, and more. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, propolis has potential to support overall wellness. However, more extensive clinical trials are still warranted before making unsubstantiated health claims for propolis. Overall though, initial research suggests this unusual honeybee product does indeed have promising implications for human health as a natural remedy.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it