Five Things Everyone Should Know About Propolis

propolis and beeswax Honeybees use propolis and beeswax to seal small cracks in their beehive.

Savannah Bee is a honeybee company, a company that began with a single beehive. We use four important honeybee-produced ingredients to make Savannah Bee products – honey, royal jelly, beeswax and propolis. Although I love each and every one of these hive products, I find propolis particularly fascinating. Propolis is best described as a resin. Like most resinous compounds, propolis becomes sticky at a certain temperature (around 70° F) and becomes very hard below this temperature. Honeybees collect sap from conifers and resin from young tree buds and mix it with a little bee pollen and enzymes to produce propolis. Just like honey, the constituents of propolis will vary from region to region and even from hive to hive in the same apiary. Although the recipe for propolis is universal, the actual chemical make-up depends on the plant species from which the saps and resins are collected. As we learn more and more about propolis, the list of applications and uses for this incredible substance continues to grow. Below is a list of five very interesting facts about propolis. The list includes both honeybee and human applications, both functional and medicinal.

Honeybees Use Propolis for Mummification – You probably know that honeybees are very industrious animals. They are also very tidy little creatures. Honeybees will remove all waste from their hive just as we take out the trash at our homes. However, on occasion a large invader will enter a beehive, say, for example, a small lizard. The honeybees can typically neutralize the threat with ease, but they are left with a carcass that they cannot remove because it is simply too heavy.

Putrefaction is the natural process of protein decay. Although this process is natural, it is also really gross and stinky. No self-respecting honeybee wants a putrefying lizard in the living room, so the honeybees will encase the lizard in layers of propolis to stop the process of decay and mummify the fallen enemy. The propolis antiseptically seals the carcass where it will remain completely ignored by the members of the hive.

Clay Hives Honeybees and their products are often depicted in Ancient Egyptian art.

Propolis Was Used By Ancient Egyptians and Greeks as Medicine – There is an abundance of evidence suggesting that propolis was used extensively by Egyptians and Greeks as an antiseptic to treat wounds. Propolis was mixed with beeswax and other natural ingredients and the applied topically as a salve to scrapes, cuts, and burns. Today we know that propolis is a powerful antimicrobial substance. It stands to reason that the salves used by ancient people probably kept wounds free of infection and probably increased the rate of healing. Interestingly, propolis was also used in the Egyptian process of mummification. Perhaps the Ancient Egyptians observed the honeybee mummification process in one of their hives and applied the concept to their own burial rituals.

Propolis is Receiving Great Attention as a Possible Treatment for Cancer – Over the past few years, propolis has really started to gain research momentum as a possible alternative or support treatment for several types of cancer. Clinical studies have already demonstrated a stalling of tumor growth in response to propolis treatments.

The difficulty cancer researchers face in studying propolis as a potential cancer treatment is its very complex chemical make-up. Propolis is composed of over 300 different chemical compounds, many of which are very complex. Isolating the specific chemical that acts to slow the growth of tumors can be incredibly challenging. Not to mention the fact that the specific action of propolis may well be a synergy between two or more compounds. To make things worse, as mentioned above, the exact make-up of propolis will vary from region to region. As far as propolis is concerned, there is no consistent chemical formula.

propolis Honeybees take advantage of the antimicrobial properties of propolis.

Propolis is a Powerful Antiseptic – Propolis is used by honeybees to seal small gaps and cracks in their beehive. This structurally fortifies the hive and reduces vibration, but it also protects the hive from would-be microbial invaders. As it turns out, propolis has very powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Around here we like to think of it as the immune system of a beehive, keeping it free of microbial infection.

  • Propolis as an Antibacterial – As a result of over-prescribing prescription antibiotics, many species of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have evolved. Sometimes these new species are referred to as superbugs. One such superbug is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus also known as MRSA. Studies have shown that propolis is an effective anti-MRSA treatment, slowing colony growth and sometimes halting growth altogether.
  • Propolis as an Antifungal - Fungal infections are very common in humans. Various yeast species can colonize almost every part of the human body. Many studies confirm that propolis extract (PE) is a very effective treatment for many types of fungal infection. These studies conclude that PE is effective not only as a fungal growth inhibitor but also as a fungicidal agent.
  • Propolis as an Antiviral – Propolis has been clinically studied as a treatment for many different viral species that cause human diseases and ailments. Propolis has been shown to be an effective treatment for herpes zoster (shingles) and for herpes simplex which causes fever blisters and cold sores.

Oral Mist with Propolis Savannah Bee Oral Mist with Propolis.

Savannah Bee Propolis Throat Spray and Oral Mist are Great and Powerful Products – During the year 2015, we developed and released two different types of propolis spray for throat and mouth. Our Propolis Throat Spray is formulated with a high concentration of propolis. This product also includes Echinacea  and Pelargonium Root. This formula is an intensive treatment designed to compliment the body’s immune system while antiseptically treating a cold at its point source, the back of the throat.

Our Propolis Oral Mist contains a much lower concentration of propolis, honey and all natural mint. This product is designed to keep the mouth moist, fresh and clean. Our Propolis Oral Mist can be used anytime, all day every day as part of our breath freshening oral hygiene routine. I think you will find it to be delightful.

I am sure that as propolis is studied more comprehensively, we will begin to see more and more medicinal applications for this amazing compound. Please take my advice: when you feel that little tickle in your throat and you know what’s on the way, hit it several times a day with Savannah Bee Propolis Throat Spray!

Please read Bee Propolis is Venomous to Cancer Cells to learn more about propolis as a treatment for cancer.

Would you like to learn more about other ingredients from the beehive?

What is Beeswax?

Honey - A Delicate Crop That Begins with Nectar

What is Bee Pollen?

What is Honeycomb?

What is Royal Jelly?

Submitted By: Brantley Crowder