Jars of honey are made by bees and that’s known by most people. But have you ever thought of something other than honey that bees can produce? Right, there is another compound that bees make aside from honey and that is Propolis. It is a greenish-brown and sticky product that is used as the bees’ coat when building their hives.
Going back to the years of ancient civilization, propolis is used for medicinal purposes. Greeks use it when they need to treat abscesses, Egyptians for embalming mummies, and Assyrians for treating wounds as well as tumors because they believe that Propolis help to fight and stop the infection and make the healing process faster.
What is propolis?
The word propolis comes from the Greek, “Pro” meaning “in front of” or “at the entrance of” and “polis” meaning “community” or “city”, which means a substance that is used to preserve the hive. It is a waxy resin, complex in composition and viscous in consistency, which bees make and use in the construction, repair, insulation and preservation of the hive.
Its importance in hives
Propolis is also called “bee glue”, which is a natural resinous (wax-like) substance found in beehives and is used by bees as a cementing material to close open spaces and cracks in their hives. It is also used for its “cleansing or antiseptic” effect to protect the bee larvae, honey stores and comb. Likewise, it prevents water from getting into the hive, which keeps the humidity constant and also helps to control the flow of air into the hive.
How bees produce propolis?
Propolis, is collected by worker bees from many plant resinous secretions, such as mucilages, gums, resins and lattices, and also from the leaf buds of different plant species such as palm, pine, alder, poplar, beech, conifer and birch, and is then mixed with salivary and enzymatic secretions.
Composition of propolis
Propolis is mainly composed of resin (50%), wax (30%), essential oils (10%), pollen (5%) and other organic compounds (5%). Phenolic compounds, flavonoids, terpenes, among others, are the main organic compounds present in propolis.
Twelve different flavonoids have been found in propolis extracts, including pinocembrin, kaempferol, apigenin, catechin, naringenin, galangin and quercetin; two phenolic acids, caffeic acid and cinnamic acid; and a stilbene derivative called resveratrol.
Why take Propolis?
There are numbers of researches that show Propolis has a lot of benefits to a human body. Here are the following benefits and advantages of taking it.
- In vitro studies have proven that it has antioxidant activity, due to the presence of flavonoid ingredients of plant origin that are contained within propolis.
- Propolis has shown benefits in restricting the development of periodontitis-causing bacterial plaque due to its “natural cleansing” effects. Propolis extracts are also very useful in halitosis, a disorder in which the person suffers from unpleasant breath, mainly due to poor oral hygiene.
- It is widely used in dermatological products such as creams and ointments. Its use in skin care products is based on its effects on skin regeneration and repair, with excellent skin tolerability. Several studies have suggested that these activities are due to its antioxidant effect.
- It has been used in different herbal pharmaceutical preparations, combined with Echinacea, Honey or Royal Jelly, for respiratory disorders.
What are the uses of propolis?
In the last few decades, it has become increasingly popular as a health food in many parts of the world, including the United States, Japan and the European Union, where it has become a priority food for human well-being.
In the food industry, it is used in many preparations for its nutritional value and its use in food preservation technology. It is also widely used in pharmaceuticals, both as an additive and in synergy with some therapeutic preparations.
Dermatological and cosmetic applications are other common uses of propolis and its extracts. Its effects on tissue regeneration and renewal have been well studied, providing many benefits in several cosmetic applications.
How to use Propolis?
Propolis can be taken in different preparations (capsules, oral-liquid vials, etc.), as well as applied in creams, ointments or other topical formulations.
Propolis has shown a good safety profile, in fact, the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition does not set maximum consumption limits for this ingredient.
How much can I take?
It is important to note that chewing large amounts of raw propolis can cause nausea and digestive disorders. Also, as it is a bee-derived product, it is important to check if there is any special sensitivity to bee products (pollen, honey, etc.) before taking it.
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