Herbal medicines come in variety of forms. When we think about medicines in general we often imagine a liquid or tablet that we consume, or something we apply to our skin like a cream or balm. Many herbal medicines come in these forms too. Herbal medicines can be a concentrated herbal extract, in the form of a tincture for example. Or, they can be in capsule form – just like a vitamin capsule. Lots of herbal medicines are blends of different herbs. Often these are tailored to the exact needs of the patient by a qualified medical herbalist. So, in answering the question ‘Is propolis a herbal medicine?’ the short answer is ‘Yes!’
Propolis is Made from Plants
Herbal medicines are medicines which are derived directly from plants. Different parts of the plant can be used, including:
- Seeds, berries, nuts or fruit
Propolis is also made from plant material – from the resins which protect the plant from infection. Honeybees harvest these resins from plants and trees, then take them back to the hive. There they process the resins, combining them with wax before using the resultant propolis to protect the hive from infection.
The resins collected are high in bioflavonoids. These are chemicals which naturally occur in all plants, fruit and vegetables. There is a huge number of individually identifiable flavonoids, each with a particular purpose.
In the life of the tree, these flavonoid-rich resins act as a kind of immune system, helping the tree heal itself when damaged, for example. These same chemicals are what gives propolis is many amazing medicinal properties which are harnessed by the bees.
Protecting the Hive
In a totally natural beehive, in a tree trunk for example, the bees will coat the entirety of the inside of the hive with propolis. Propolis is sticky, and can be very hard. It acts as a physical barrier between the outside world and the colony. Bees will also use propolis to create intricate entrances to their hives – preventing intruders from gaining access.
In commercial beehives, honeybees use propolis in much the same way. Coating the internal walls, filling in holes, protecting the entrance from invaders. But propolis is far more than a physical barrier.
Propolis is one of the most potent antibacterial substances known in nature. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses meaning it acts as a kind of external immune system for the bee colony.
When consumed by humans, propolis continues provide a wide range of health benefits. And, because it’s made from plant-based materials it’s totally vegetarian and can be used by all ages.
Just as in the hive, propolis retains its ‘stickyness’, lending itself to use in the mouth, an area of the body which is notoriously difficult to treat. Our ground-breaking B-Gel is an oral gel which harnesses this particular property, for the treatment of mouth ulcers, denture sores, oral infections and inflammation caused by teething.
But this naturally sticky substance also works very effectively when applied topically. Propolis can be applied as a liquid or cream to cuts, grazes and burns. Its anti-inflammatory properties bring instant relief.
When taken internally, in the form of a capsule or tablet, propolis gets to work supporting the immune system and defending the body from the inside out. The flavonoids in propolis support the body’s immune system. It can limit the multiplication of bacteria, and inhibit the growth of harmful biofilm. It contains natural chemicals which suppress inflammation, reducing swelling and easing pain and discomfort.
Propolis is a Herbal Medicine!
It may not be blended by a herbalist – but in many ways, the honeybee acts as a flying pharmacist. There are many research papers which demonstrate that propolis is unique in the world of herbal medicines. It’s ingredients vary depending on where in the world it was produced. And this results in a natural medicine which responds to the environment it exists within. There is an astounding synergy in nature – whereby the medicines needed to treat diseases are provided in the chemical make-up of local plants and trees.
One research paper we contributed to demonstrated that propolis produced by bees in an area with high levels of sleeping sickness actually contained chemicals which acted against the bacteria causing the disease. Without any human intervention the bees had produced a true herbal medicine!
Propolis is both made from plants and exhibits a wide range of medicinal properties. Is propolis a herbal medicine? Yes! And one which requires little human intervention to benefit those who would use it. It’s a natural substance, produced by honeybees to protect the colony, which also supports the human immune system. This is why we at BeeVital believe propolis is the medicine of the future.
- Natural medicines have been used for thousands of years and are commonly derived from plants, inccluding flowers, leaves, stems, roots, fruit, seeds and bark.
- Pharmaceutical drugs are often derived from herbal medicines, where a plant extract is shown to have a particular biological function such as prevening bacteria from multiplying.
- Herbal medicines work in harmony with your body – supporting your immune system and helping the body defend itself against infection.
- 35% of the UK population have used herbal medicines, with 5% of people using Traditional Chinese Medicine and 8% seeing a herbalist or other traditional practitioner [source].
- 29% of UK population have used an over the counter herbal medicine [source].
- Propolis Capsules are an easy way to take propolis and benefit from its healing properties.
- “Herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years. At BeeVital we believe propolis is the medicine of the future too!”
Nature’s Laboratory Ltd