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Propolis FAQ

Propolis is a complex natural substance created by honey bees and used to protect their hives from infection. Research has shown that propolis has remarkable benefits for humans too! We’ve started putting together a comprehensive Propolis FAQ, with answers to some of the questions we are regularly asked.

It Propolis an Antibiotic?

Whilst not an antibiotic drug in the sense that it’s not a pharmaceutical, propolis does have antibiotic properties. Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They include a range of powerful drugs and are used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. Most antibiotic medicines prescribed today are produced by pharmaceutical companies. Propolis is a natural substance, produced by honey bees. Bees make it from plant resins which are high in flavonoids. Flavonoids are a group of chemicals found in fruit, vegetables, leaves and other parts of plants and trees. They are rich in antioxidant activity which can help the body defend itself against infection. Raw propolis is refined to remove wax and other organic matter. Once refined, propolis can be made into tinctures, capsules & tablets. These products retain the antioxidant properties of propolis.

Many scientific studies have demonstrated the antibiotic power of propolis. One study concluded that propolis “is a significant antimicrobial bee product. It acts both against Gram-positive and Gram-negative, as well as aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.”

One problem facing the use of antibiotics is the threat of antibiotic resistance. But propolis offers a solution. When taken alongside pharmaceutical antibiotics, propolis has been shown to act as “a synergetic agent to increase the efficacy of conventional antibiotics”. Research continues in this area. However, studies have been undertaken which give clues as to why propolis seems to have this effect. One such study, undertaken at Oxford University in 1996, “found that some of the components of propolis—cinnammic acids and flavonoids in particular—had the effect of ‘uncoupling’ the energy field of the bacteria, inhibiting their ability to move around. They believed that this change in the bioenergetic status of the bacteria could be responsible for the anti-microbial action as well as for the way propolis works synergistically with antibiotics.”

There is no doubt that pharmaceutical antibiotics have revolutionised modern medicine. But they are not without their problems. Evidence shows that propolis acts as a natural antibiotic. Research demonstrates propolis can inhibit the growth of bacteria including MRSA and E. Coli. Propolis capsules, tablets and tincture are easy ways to consume propolis. Propolis can also be applied topically, in the form of creams and balms. This means it can be used to target bacterial infections and prevent wounds becoming infected. One study compared the use of propolis cream with silver sulfadiazine in treating burns. The antibacterial effect of both treatments was similar, but wounds treated with propolis “consistently showed less inflammation” than those treated with silver. This is because as well as being antibiotic, propolis is also anti-inflammatory.

Unlike pharmaceutical medicines, propolis varies in chemical structure depending on where it comes from. Because propolis is made from natural plant resins, the chemical compounds found within it vary from region to region. This is leading to new areas of propolis research. Scientists are keen to find out how propolis from different parts of the globe varies. This could result in propolis-based medicines which have particular characteristics. This could include propolis which is a particularly effective antibiotic.

Propolis is a safe and natural alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics. Our Propolis Capsules and Propolis Tablets are produced with high potency propolis which exhibits high levels of antibacterial behaviour. We also produce a Propolis Throat Spray which can be applied to the mouth and throat. This can target propolis at the source of infection. Our Propolis Cream is great for applying to the skin, in the treatment of infections or burns. If you are taking pharmaceutical antibiotics it’s always best to consult your GP before supplementing with other remedies.

Is Propolis a Honey?

No, propolis is not a honey. Propolis is made from plant and tree resins, whereas honey is made from pollen. Generally, raw propolis is composed of around 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% of various organic compounds.

The resins contain the majority of the flavonoids found in propolis along with a number of phenols and acids. Flavonoids are found everywhere in the plant kingdom, especially in fruit and vegetables. Propolis contains particularly high quantities of a large range of flavonoids. It is these that have attracted most attention from researchers seeking the so-called ‘actives’ in propolis – those elements thought most responsible for particular pharmacological actions.

Most of the waxes and fatty acids present in propolis are derived from beeswax but many of them are of plant origin. The role of the waxes in propolis has been neglected. When propolis is refined the waxes are generally removed. They are, however, an integral and important part of propolis and contain a range of micro­ elements thought to be important in treating burns. Clinical trials using beeswax to treat burns are currently being carried out in a hospital in the south of England.

The range of essential oils found in propolis depends on the flora harvested by the bees. Petri, a Hungarian researcher, has compared the essential oils collected from propolis with the oil from poplar bud, that favourite source of resin for the bees. Micro­ biological tests showed similar moderate activity against some bacteria and fungi.

The small amount of pollen found in propolis is responsible for its protein content. Gabrys, a Polish researcher, found 16 amino acids present in propolis at more than 1 per cent. Of the total amino acids present, arginine and proline together made up 45.8%. A further eight amino acids were present in traces. Gabrys suggests that the ability of propolis to stimulate tissue regeneration is due to the presence of arginine because of its role in stimulating the production of nucleic acid.

Around 14 mineral trace elements are found in propolis, of which iron and zinc are the most common. Other minerals found include gold, silver, caesium, mercury and lead.

The colour of propolis can vary enormously. In temperate climates it ranges from a light yellow or brown to a dark brown colour, often with a reddish hue. Propolis produced in tropical climates can range from the light brown-green of Brazilian propolis to the black and dark red of some Cuban varieties. Propolis tends to become darker the longer it is in the hive. Fresh propolis appears as a red tinge on the new white honeycomb constructed by the bees. The colour of propolis also varies according to the trees and plants harvested, as well as the types of bees gathering it. Propolis collected by black bees tends to be darker in colour.

Propolis can be found most easily at two sites in the hive. It is often see at the entrance, which is constructed almost entirely from propolis. It can also be found along the sides of the frames, where it is often deposited in larger quantities in zigzag patterns. Some believe these larger deposits act as a kind of storage facility before being moved to fill cracks or openings in the hive.

At moderate temperatures propolis becomes soft and malleable when handled but when frozen becomes brittle. Propolis turns to a liquid at temperatures between 70–100°C.

Over the centuries, several theories have been developed as to how bees actually produce propolis. By far the most plausible and now most popular theory was put forward by Rosch and others, again in the early part of the 20th century. Rosch observed bees removing sections of resin from trees with their mandibles, which they used to further break down the resinous lumps. The resin was then passed from the forelegs to the mid-legs of the bee, continuing to be worked on and gradually formed into a pellet as pollen is. The propolis is then deposited into the bee’s pollen baskets. The bees then flew back to the hive where other bees removed the propolis and transferred it to storage sites. or applied it in the hive for a variety of purposes.

One thing is certain—resins derived from one source or another, form a major ingredient, around 50 per cent, of propolis. From the outset, the bees are collecting a material which the plant world already relies on to maintain its health and integrity.

We know resins have an important role to play in the immune defence systems of trees and plants. We have all seen how, if a tree is damaged or cut, the resins pour out in order to seal up the ‘wound’, to stop the tree bleeding. Many of these resins themselves have a hallowed place in natural medicines. Two out of the three gifts taken by the Wise Men to the infant Jesus at his birth were tree resins—frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense and myrrh have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties and are used to treat a variety of health problems. These include rheumatism and arthritis, as well as for bronchial and respiratory complaints. Other resins, such as pine resin, have figured in their own right as part of the natural medicine chest, for similar reasons. It is not surprising therefore that the honey bee should seek out these and other resins as a valuable base material for propolis.

Whilst not a honey, propolis is produced by honey bees and is harvested from beehives. Propolis is packed with natural chemicals called flavonoids which give rise to its medicinal properties.

What is Propolis Good For?

Can Propolis Cure COVID?

Is Propolis Good For Your Teeth?

Does Propolis Prevent Bad Breath?

Is Propolis Good for Gingivitis?

Why Should I Take Propolis?

What are Propolis Capsules Good For?

What is Propolis Tincture Used For?

Does Propolis Have Side Effects?

What Are the Benefits of Taking Propolis?

What Can Propolis Cure?

Can Propolis Be Taken With Antibiotics?

Is Propolis Antiseptic?

Can You Put Propolis On An Open Wound?

Is Propolis Antifungal?

Is Propolis Good For a Yeast Infection?

Is Propolis Anticancer?

Is It Good To Take Propolis Daily?

Does Propolis Toothpaste Contain Flouride?