Propolis is made by honeybees from tree and plant resins. These contain flavonoids, a group of chemicals which are antioxidant. Antioxidants prevent damage to cells caused by free-radicals – unstable molecules the body creates when under stress. The flavonoids in propolis are known to have wide-reaching health benefits. In short, propolis is very good for you.
In this post we’ll explain why, looking at some of the key medicinal properties of propolis:
- Propolis is antibacterial
- Propolis is anti-inflammatory
- Propolis is antifungal
- Propolis is antiseptic
- Propolis is antitumoral
Propolis is Antibacterial
Bees use propolis to block up holes in their hives. They construct complex entrances to their hives from it, to prevent intruders gaining access. But they also use it to tackle potential sources of infection. For example, if a mouse manages to gain access to a beehive the bees can kill it by stinging it, but they can’t move it. In order to prevent the resulting bacteria from harming the colony, bees use propolis to mummify the body. This has the effect of limiting the spread of the bacteria, and the bees can go about their business free from harm.
Research has demonstrated that this antibacterial property of propolis is beneficial for humans too. Studies have shown that applying propolis topically to infections or wounds inhibits bacterial growth. Propolis is effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.Because propolis is made from natural plant and tree resins, its chemical structure can vary. Research is currently being undertaken to try and pinpoint propolis with the highest levels of antibacterial activity.
Propolis is Anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is an immune response triggered when the body is harmed. It is a protective response which aims to help the body heal. However, too much inflammation can lead to severe consquences, including arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Inflammation can be observed around cuts and bruises, as well as skin conditions like acne. Propolis has been observed to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Taken regularly in capsule or tablet form, propolis has the effect of reducing inflammation within the body. Equally, propolis can be applied topically to inflammed skin to soothe and protect.
Propolis is Antifungal
Fungal infections are a common medical complaint. They come in various forms including:
- Athlete’s Foot
- Nappy rash
- Fungal nail infections
Research has demonstrated that propolis is a highly effective treatment for fungal infections. One research paper tested the effect of propolis ethanol extract in treating genital thrush. It concluded that “All yeasts were inhibited by [propolis extract]”. Another study supported “the therapeutic use of this natural product in the treatment of oral infections by Candida species.”
Propolis is Antiseptic
Any wound which is not properly cleaned and/or covered is susceptible to bacterial infection. This can result in sepsis – where the body overreacts to the infection. If untreated, sepsis can be fatal. Because propolis is antibacterial and safe to be applied topically to wounds, proplis is a fantastic natural antiseptic. The combination of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make propolis a valuable treatment for infected cuts and wounds. By inhibiting the growth and spread of bacteria, propolis supports the body’s normal immune response. Propolis promotes healing, and applying Propolis Cream or Propolis Tincture to a wound can really help tackle septic infection.
Propolis is Antitumoral
Research in this area has concluded that propolis “may inhibit tumor cell progression and may be useful as potential chemotherapeutic or chemopreventitive anticancer drugs.” This amazing breakthrough recognised that propolis is able to “induce apoptosis pathways in cancer cells”. This is a biological process which results in cell death. It is used by the body to remove cells such as those between the fingers in the developing hand of an unborn baby. This is an incredibly exciting area of propolis research which could revolutionise anti-cancer treatements.
As we’ve seen, propolis exhibits various medicinal properties which are beneficial to humans. As an anti-inflammatory remedy it can help moderate inflammation in the body, helping the body heal itself. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties means it is a valuable treatment option for infections of various kinds. Research into the medicinal properties of propolis is ongoing. The International Propolis Research Group is an active community of scientific researchers. They exist to promote the scientific research being undertaken in universities around the globe. If you’re interested in finding out more about their work and exploring some of the areas of propolis research currently being undertaken please visit www.iprg.info.