As the weather turns colder we become more susceptible to winter colds and viruses. There are lots of natural ways to support your body’s immune system. A healthy diet, sleeping well and getting some exercise are all great ways to help your body stay healthy.
But what else can you do, if you need a bit more of a boost? In this article we want to introduce you to something amazing. It’s called propolis. It’s totally natural and offers some exceptional health benefits.
Scientific research is now proving what has been known for thousands of years. Propolis is antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and more. But what is it, where does it come from and how do you take it? Read on to find out!
What is Propolis?
Propolis is one of nature’s most remarkable natural substances. Produced by honeybees, propolis is made from plant and tree resins. The bees combine these with waxes, pollen and essential oils.
Depending on the plant resins used to make it, propolis can vary in colour, from a light amber to rich reds and dark browns. Propolis found in Brazil, for example, is often green whereas propolis from Cuba is a dark red.
The bees use propolis to block up holes in their hives, keeping the hive secure. They deposit propolis around the entrance to their hive as well as storing it within the hive for when they need it. It’s a very sticky substance, sometimes known as bee glue, which lots of beekeepers consider to be a bit of a nuisance. But it is fundamental to the health of the bees, it is the immune system for the hive, due to its naturally antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. It can also have these health supporting effects in humans! This is why we believe propolis is a wonderful natural medicine. It strengthens the body’s natural immune system, helping defend against bacteria and infection.
How Does Propolis Work?
Many attempts have been made to isolate those particular chemicals in propolis thought to be the ‘actives’, but in general researchers agree that it is the combined and synergistic effect of propolis which remains most effective.
Pharmacological studies into propolis – studies which have looked at propolis in vitro i.e. not in humans – have illustrated, amongst others, the antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, antioxidant and antiseptic properties of propolis.
The fact that propolis has so many different properties makes it able to work in a whole or ‘holistic’ way – that is, through its ability to trigger the body’s own fighting mechanisms rather than by killing or destroying specific bacteria, viruses or fungi.
To explain a little more about how propolis works, lets look at how the bees use it. The beehive uses propolis to defend the hive against infection in lots of different ways such as sealing up the hive. For example, if an intruder, such as a mouse, gets into the hive, the bees can kill the mouse by stinging it, but they can’t move it. The mouse then becomes a source of infection inside the ‘body’ of the hive, so the bees coat the dead mouse in propolis, effectively embalming it and preventing infection. This also illustrates how propolis works at a pharmacological level. It is mainly the flavonoid chemicals in propolis which seal the protein coating of bacteria or viruses in our bodies, this deactivates the bacteria or viruses and prevents them from multiplying. In the case of bacteria, it prevents them from becoming much more dangerous in the form of biofilm such as MRSA.
An interesting area of current research is the synergy between propolis and pharmaceutical antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance has become a major health concern in recent years. Research shows that when combined with propolis, certain antibiotics which had ceased to be effective have the potential to become activated once more.
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of propolis make it helpful in treating wounds such as burns. One study found that propolis can help people who have had traumatic burns heal faster by speeding up new healthy cell growth. Propolis also contains compounds useful in treating skin conditions like eczema and acne. It has also been found to be beneficial in treating upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold.
Because propolis from different geographical areas varies due to differences in climate and flora, the properties of propolis vary from region to region. Propolis from warmer, wetter climates tends to be more antibacterial whereas propolis from more temperate climates tends to have more anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
How Can I Take Propolis?
Propolis is widely available in a range of different formats. We’ve highlighted a few options below and explained how each might support your body’s health and well-being.
Propolis Capsules & Tablets
Propolis Capsules & Tablets are made from refined propolis powder. Either capsules or tablets are an easy way to take propolis as part of your regular health routine. We recommend taking 1-3 capsules or tablets per day. Propolis provides a good all-round boost for your immune system.
Propolis Tincture is propolis in liquid form. Refined propolis is combined with alcohol which breaks down the structure of propolis, resulting in a flavonoid-rich liquid. Propolis Tincture has a strong taste, so is often combined with fruit juice or added to hot tea.
Propolis Cream is made by combining a moisturising base cream with propolis extract. It’s the perfect thing to apply directly to skin complaints such as eczema or acne. It can also be used topically to ease painful joints. It’s unscented, contains no artificial colour and is free from parabens which can harm the skin. As well as the benefits of propolis, this cream is a great natural moisturiser!
Propolis & Honey Throat Spray
For a more convenient way to apply propolis to the mouth or throat we recommend Propolis & Honey Throat Spray. This is a combination of propolis extract, soothing honey and essential oils known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Spray 2 or 3 times as required to bring soothing relief to sore throats.
Propolis Syrup with Elderberry & Honey
Another way to benefit from the medicinal properties of propolis is with our Propolis Syrup. This is an expertly-blended combination of propolis with elderberry and other herbal tinctures along with menthol which clears congestion. Elderberry is packed full of vitamin C, and has antiviral properties while thyme and ginger are known to soothe tickly coughs. This delicious syrup soothes winter throats, whilst the lasting power of propolis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses.
Propolis has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. Modern scientific research is uncovering its secrets and demonstrating that propolis is far more than a folk remedy. Propolis has proven ability to tackle bacterial and viral infections. It can be applied topically to treat skin complaints and ease painful joints as well as ingested internally to support the body’s whole health.
At BeeVital we have spent decades researching this amazing substance. Our propolis products are produced using world-leading technology. Along with the benefit of our propolis research, our team have extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. This means we’re able to produce ground-breaking natural remedies which make the most of what nature has to offer.
Originally published on Good Health Magazine.