Bee Propolis 101: Health Benefits, Uses and Side Effects
Perhaps you’re familiar with the healing properties of bee pollen or royal jelly but did you know that there is another bee product with incredible health benefits? Propolis is a natural resin material produced by bees and used to protect and repair the hive. Propolis has been used as medicine by humans since ancient times to fight infection and treat wounds. Bee propolis is gaining popularity again as people look for natural health products with no harmful chemicals.
What is Bee Propolis?
Often called “bee glue”, propolis is a protective substance that is crucial to bee hives. Worker bees collect resin from leaf buds and tree sap and mix it with honey, beeswax and bee saliva to create this powerfully sticky compound.
Named from the Greek words Pro meaning “in defense of” and Polis meaning “city”, bee propolis is used by bees to defend and strengthen their hives against intruders and the elements. Propolis is used to seal cracks and gaps in the hive and coats the hive walls, entrance and inside the honeycomb. Bees will even use propolis to mummify any intruders that are too large for them to drag out of the hive.
Humans have long realized the importance of bee propolis, with its use outside of the hive dating as far back as 300 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were known to have taken a cue from the bees, and used propolis in their own mummification process. Other ancient civilizations used bee propolis for healing wounds and treating illnesses.
The composition of bee propolis varies from hive to hive as the resin is collected from various different trees. However bee propolis is on average composed of 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen and 5% other compounds such as acids, sugars and vitamins (B, C and E). Bee pollen has immune boosting properties on its own, which contributes to the incredible health benefits of bee propolis. Propolis contains over 300 biologically active ingredients, with the main active ingredients being powerful antioxidants called flavonoids.
What are the Health Benefits of Bee Propolis?
New research is being conducted all over the world as interest in propolis as a natural health remedy grows. Recent studies show that bee propolis may be effective in treating or preventing a number of different symptoms.
Oral Health and Hygiene
A number of clinical trials have shown that bee propolis is effective in maintaining good oral health and hygiene. Propolis applied directly, using a tincture or spray for example, has been shown to reduce oral bacteria and plaque buildup, effectively reducing symptoms such as bad breath. Evidence also shows that bee propolis can treat swelling, inflammation and sores inside of the mouth including oral mucositis and canker sores. Bee propolis has also been used to heal gum inflammation when applied directly.
Bacterial, Fungal and Viral Infections
Research also suggests that bee propolis is efficiently used as a topical treatment. Evidence shows that bee propolis can treat cold sores and genital herpes. Bee propolis can be applied to various bacterial and fungal infections on the skin to treat symptoms.
A secondary external use for bee propolis is in treating minor wounds. Bee propolis may increase the growth of new skin cells, aiding in healing cuts, wounds and burns. Bee propolis can also be used to provide relief from bug bites and calm skin irritation.
Sore Throat and Common Cold
Bee propolis spray is particularly effective in treating sore throats and the antioxidant properties of propolis have been shown to boost immune systems. Regular consumption of bee propolis may strengthen the immune system and prevent common cold symptoms.
Allergies and Side Effects
Bee propolis is generally regarded as safe to use. However, because the composition of bee propolis varies, it is difficult to research potential side effects. If you have a known allergy to bee products, bee stings, conifers, or poplars, consult with your health care provider before using propolis.
Bee Propolis Products
Bee propolis is available in a variety of applications depending on the intended use. Dr. Bee propolis products are available in conveniently sized containers so you can easily reach for bee propolis in your medicine cabinet or on the go.