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What is propolis?

Propolis is produced by honey bees. They make it by combining resins harvested from plants and trees with enzymes. They use it to protect their hives from infection - but it has also been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years!

Early use of propolis

The Egyptian priest-doctors first utilised propolis as a medicine, having observed it's role in the hive and already used it successfully for mummification.

Propolis has been referred to in medical treatises from Arab, Greek and Roman times right up to the late nineteenth century - being cited as a natural aid for a variety of health problems, including respiratory and joint problems as well as infections and skin diseases.

Ancient Egyptians used propolis
Decline in use

With the advent of modern synthetic drug-based medicines, around 100 years ago in the West, the use of propolis along with other natural products began to decline in favour of the New Medicine. Much of modern medicine is derived from plant sources but now based on single active ingredients designed to target specific health problems.

Only in Eastern Europe - Russia, Romania, the old Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, did propolis continue to be used and its scientific basis researched. Medical institutes in Russia since the 1930's have carried out a great deal of practical research into the chemical structure and in particular the antibiotic function of propolis.

A renaissance of interest in the West came in the 1960's and 70's with the work of Dr. Aagard Lund in Denmark and Dr. Remy Chauvin in France. Dr. Lund describes an incredible variety of health problems that propolis can treat.

Between 1980 and 1996 309 scientific papers were published about propolis. Nearly half of these were reports of projects conducted in Western countries. This ratio has continued to increase over the last 14 years.

Synergy of Propolis

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 - studies which have looked at propolis in vitro i.e. not in humans - have illustrated, amongst others, the antibiotic, anti inflammatory, anti viral, antifungal, 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.

Read more about propolis
James Fearnley leading propolis expert
“I've spent much of my career researching the use of propolis as a health supplement for humans. I'm delighted to helped create BeeVital propolis products and hope that propolis grows in use - it's one of nature's most amazing natural remedies!”