Honey, beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly—it’s astounding just how many useful substances bees provide us with. Well, we’re here to discuss yet another bee-derived substance that has impressive health benefits. Bee propolis has been used since ancient times to treat abscesses and fight infections, and over time, experts have uncovered countless other powerful health benefits.
Bee propolis, also called “bee glue,” is a mixture of bee saliva, beeswax, and resin from nearby trees. Bees use it to seal up small gaps in the beehive to keep out foreign invaders, which include both dangerous predators and harmful microbes or fungi. Bee propolis has powerful antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-ulcer, antitumor, and antioxidant properties.
There are many proven health benefits to bee propolis. It works to naturally boost the immune system and provides protection against middle ear infections, respiratory tract infections, throat infections, oral infections, skin lacerations, genital herpes, and the common cold.
Bee propolis differs greatly in color and in composition depending on the environment and on the time at which the bees collected the resin.
How can bee propolis benefit your health? Let’s take a closer look to find out.
1. Skin Care
Ancient Greeks and Assyrians applied propolis to the skin to speed the healing of abscesses, wounds, bruises, and burns.
Propolis offers a soothing sensation while keeping harmful bacteria out of open cuts. It also contains many important antioxidants that help to protect the skin from free radicals and encourage healthy cell regeneration, which speeds up the healing process.
According to some sources, even the infamously beautiful Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra applied propolis to her skin, taking advantage of its preservative qualities to keep her skin looking young and ageless.
2. Oral Health
Bee propolis has many uses in oral hygiene and oral health due to its antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Propolis can be used as part of regular dental care to protect the teeth and gums from infection. It may prevent all types of oral conditions, including caries; gingivitis; hand, foot, and mouth disease; thrush; oral herpes; and even oral cancer. (1)
3. Heart Health
There is evidence that bee propolis may lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, or an aneurysm.
One study showed a significant reduction in blood pressure levels among hypertensive rats with regular administration of bee propolis. The propolis was successful in reducing tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) activity, allowing greater nitric oxide availability, thereby lowering blood pressure. (2)
People who suffer from allergies are actually experiencing an inflammatory immune response triggered by something the body perceives to be a threat. Histamine is released in the body, giving you those uncomfortable symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy/runny nose, red and watery eyes, and itchy throat.
Studies show that propolis has similar benefits to over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines that you can pick up at the drugstore—with none of the side effects. In one study, rats with allergic rhinitis were given Brazilian propolis for a period of two weeks. The propolis significantly reduced histamine release in the rats, clearing their allergy symptoms. (3)
Infection can happen anywhere in the body. When the body’s systems are invaded by a disease-causing agent—bacteria, virus, or fungi—the invader begins to multiply, and the body fights it by attacking with immune cells.
Since bee propolis is antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, it can prevent infection from occurring or even stop it in its tracks once it has already settled in.
Propolis was proven effective against bacteria Streptococcus, which causes the infection we all know as strep throat. It also fights middle ear infections and respiratory infections. (4)
So if you have an infection and are looking for a natural alternative to prescription antibiotics, bee propolis definitely steps up to the plate.
Treatment with bee propolis was found even more effective than treatment with pharmaceutical drugs when it came to genital herpes (HSV-2). Propolis undeniably inhibits the infectious activity of this virus.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV), including HSV-1, which affects the mouth and the lips, was also improved with regular use of bee propolis ointment. Application of propolis was shown to reduce severity and duration of cold sores.
Parasites are organisms that feed off other organisms, and in humans, they often transmit diseases and deplete the host of nutrients.
Bee propolis has shown antiparasitic effects against parasites Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, and Trichomonas vaginalis, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) often referred to as TV.
Bee propolis may have sounded too good to be true until now—but did you know that it can also fight cancer?
The antitumor effects of bee propolis may stop cancer cell growth and initiate cancer cell death. Research has seen its effects on cervical and prostate cancer.
This magical substance also contains antioxidants that fight free radical damage and oxidative stress, which lead to cancerous cell growth. The antioxidants protect healthy cells and promote their regeneration.
There is no doubt that bee propolis is a natural immune system enhancer. It seeks out and destroys harmful agents that enter the body and threaten infection, chronic disease, and cancer. Best part? No nasty side effects, like the ones you’re privy to when you pick up any OTC medication for a quick fix.