What is propolis?
Propolis is a substance that honeybees produce by combining resins they collect from trees and plants. In the hive they combine the resins with wax and process the whole through their enzymatic systems.
The bees use propolis in the hive to protect the colony against infection and it’s also very effective as a support for both humans and animal health. Propolis has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, adaptogenic and immune boosting properties.
Propolis can help with both specific illnesses and conditions and as a general health maintenance product.
How does propolis help your oral health?
Propolis is widely used in oral healthcare, its anticaries, antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties make it an ideal product in helping to maintain oral health.
Many conditions or diseases of the mouth are caused by bacteria. The antibiotic properties of propolis help greatly with wound healing and in fighting infection. The flavonoids in propolis seal up the coating of bacteria. This makes propolis very helpful in its role as an antibiotic substance. Propolis can also help in a wider context regarding bacteria. When bacteria accumulate in your body, they can form biofilm ( clusters of bacteria) which is potentially dangerous. The way the bacteria do this is through quorum sensors which sense other bacteria and trigger their joining together. Propolis has the capacity to disable this process. Research has also shown that taking propolis with conventional antibiotics can help to increase the efficacy of the antibiotic action, so all round, taking propolis on its own or with antibiotics can have beneficial effects in terms of your body ability to deal with harmful bacteria.
Antimicrobial & antifungal properties
It is well known that propolis can inhibit or control the growth of a wide range of micro-organisms and can help with differing problems relating to microbes such as bacteria, fungus and viruses. For instance, the flavonoids in propolis can seal up the coating of both bacteria and viruses, a property which can be very beneficial in maintaining good oral health.
The inflammatory process is a key factor in several oral diseases including gingivitis and mouth ulceration. Research has indicated that flavonoids in propolis block the enzymes which seek to rupture the cell membrane, and so prevent the inflammatory process from starting. Flavonoids have an additional benefit; they stimulate enzyme formation to fortify the walls of the blood vessels in the gums providing a multi-pronged attack on oral diseases.
In addition to the properties of propolis described above, it also helps fight tooth decay with pinocembrin – a type of flavonoid – carrying the specific anticaries property. Pinocembrin acts as an agent against the cariogenic (causing tooth decay) bacteria Streptococcus mutans.
A holistic approach
Many of the population now suffer from a compromised immune system, affected by a combination of factors including environment, pollution, lifestyle, diet, and drug side-effects.
There is evidence that general health problems and oral health problems are connected, for instance, periodontal disease is related to a higher incidence of certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems.
In today’s dental practices, dentists are being asked to help people who present with health problems apparently outside the remit of traditional dentistry. Propolis has, in recent years, found its way increasingly into dental practices, due to its effectiveness in both helping to prevent and treat disease.
The most valuable function of propolis lies in its ability to holistically support our health.
Propolis is an adaptogenic substance which means that it helps the body to adapt, adjust and recalibrate and to stabilise physiological processes. Adaptogens normalise by raising what is low and lowering what is high.
Propolis can help the body to heal itself. It does this in a variety of ways. It can help to boost your immune system, so that you can more easily fight off infections. It has antimicrobial qualities, so it can help to disable bacteria and viruses before they become dangerous. It also has antifungal properties which can help your body to deal with fungal infections. It is also anti-inflammatory, helping your body to deal with sources of inflammation which can cause illness. Propolis works in a wide- ranging and holistic way to support health.
Taking care of your own oral health
Prevention is better than cure
Taking propolis regularly helps whole body health in a holistic way, boosting your immune system and helping with infection or inflammation when these occur.
Patients are now encouraged by practitioners to take care of their own oral health. Preventative dentistry is a major public issue and oral hygiene is high priority. Like many natural medicines, propolis works most effectively as a preventative measure, but can also be effective in treating oral conditions and diseases if these occur.
Conventional Treatment & Propolis Treatment
Many ingredients in traditional dental products such as mouthwashes, breath fresheners, chewing gums and toothpastes are raising health concerns, for example:
- Alcohol in mouthwashes and rinses
- Synthetic colourings
- Artificial sweeteners
- Tooth whiteners containing peroxides & derivatives
- Synthetic & some natural flavourings
- Foaming agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate & others
- Synthetic preservatives
There are a number of propolis products which can help maintain correct oral health, including:
- Propolis toothpaste
- Propolis mouthwash
- Propolis throat sprays
- Propolis breath fresheners
- Propolis chewing gum
- Propolis lozenges
- Propolis floss
Regular use of these products can help prevent the development of plaque, caries (tooth decay) and general inflammation.
Propolis can also be used to treat other oral conditions and diseases , such as gum disease, mouth ulcers, bad breath, cold sores, lichen planus, oral candidiasis, and abscesses.
How can we help the honeybee – producer of propolis?
The honeybee which produces this wonderful substance, propolis, is under threat from many sides – from pesticides, from degradation of its environment, from interference in its natural processes and much more. What can we do to help? We need a compassionate ecology, one in which we see ourselves as guardians and protectors of the bee. We can plant a wide variety of plants from which bees can gather pollen and nectar, tend plants organically and not use harmful pesticides. The honeybee is an extraordinary creature, deserving of our care and respect, along with the natural world, on which we depend.
BeeVital’s innovative oral healthcare products
BeeVital produces the largest range of innovative, research-led propolis oral health products in the UK, developed in conjunction with the Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering Science at the University of Bradford, which include:
This is a ground-breaking oral healthcare product. Its formulation harnesses the power of nanotechnology to create a bio-adhesive gel for targeted action in the mouth.
Propolis is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial. It’s full of antioxidant flavonoids, chemicals found in plants and trees which provide a wide range of health benefits.
Dr Shankar Katekhaye, Director of Research and Quality at BeeVital explains “Propolis based bio-adhesive gel is a ground-breaking nanotechnology-based product, scientifically formulated for its targeted action. The natural ingredients such as mint help to reduce gingivitis & dental plaque. Propolis has antibacterial & anticaries properties, especially Pinocembrin which acts as an agent against the cariogenic (causing tooth decay) bacteria Streptococcus mutans.”
Propolis Oral Patch
Working with the university of Bradford, BeeVital have developed a prototype for a propolis impregnated patch able to stick to the oral mucosa whilst slowly releasing its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory propolis chemicals. BeeVital is now looking for major funding to develop this product commercially.
BeeVital is launching its innovative, new formula, propolis toothpaste. with a range of natural ingredients to support and enhance tooth and mouth health.
The new formulation includes water soluble propolis, known for its many beneficial properties including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties. Other ingredients such as myrrh have anti-microbial qualities and vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, inactivating harmful oral bacteria.
Lemon essential oil adds a fresh taste and acts an astringent and tonic.
Two Books about Propolis by James Fearnley
Propolis in Oral Healthcare
James Fearnley, an acknowledged authority on the medicinal properties of propolis, has worked with two leading UK dentists to produce an authoritative guide for both the dentist and the consumer on the many oral health conditions where propolis can be helpful.
The book contains information on over 30 oral health problems and on how they can be treated both in the surgery and at home. The book contains an up-to-date scientific review of the uses of propolis in treating oral health problems.
Propolis: Natural Healing from the Hive
This book is still the classic work in English on the history, traditional use, pharmacology, and modern scientific research into propolis.
James Fearnley is the founder and CEO of BeeVital. He has been researching the amazing properties of propolis for over 30 years working with universities round the world, publishing two books.
James has travelled the world collecting propolis samples to analyse back home in Whitby, North Yorkshire, contributing to over 30 peer review journals exploring the many ways that propolis can help with human health.
BeeVital produce the largest range of high quality propolis products in the UK backed up by decades of research managed by their own trained chemists and researchers in their own laboratories.
ARC – Apiceutical Research Centre www.apiceuticalresearchcentre.org was founded by James in 2010 and has built an international community of researchers looking at how propolis works for both the honeybee itself and for man.
The IPRG (International Propolis Research Group) which James founded in 2016 runs international conferences of this now global research community and provides a platform for information, research collaboration and online conferences via its own unique platform www.hivechat.co.uk
James’ BeeArc Project planned to open in 2025 will create a threefold exploration of ways in which the honeybee can inspire our social, economic and cultural life through a combined Discovery Centre , Research Centre and Sustainable Village