It may be used to seal and protect a beehive in its natural state, but propolis – the miraculous “bee glue” that keeps beehives humming along – opens up a world of useful possibilities as well. While the honey and beeswax it protects enjoy recognition and great “PR,” this hardworking substance often goes overlooked – at the consumer level, anyway. It may surprise you to learn that health and beauty products, health supplements, and even medicines you are already using may contain propolis or propolis-derived ingredients.
Rise & Shine With Propolis
While you may put a chunk of honeycomb on your morning toast or mix a dollop of honey into your tea, chances are you don’t think much about honeybees in the morning. After breakfast, however, it may have more of an effect on your day than you realize. Propolis is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, which is why it’s so prized as an ingredient in many natural brand toothpastes and mouthwashes. Unlike harsh chemicals that may damage healthy microbes along with “bad” ones, propolis helps fight off the bacteria that threaten gum health.
While not all kinds of toothpaste contain this powerful natural ingredient, it’s still easy to spot in the toothpaste aisle. Typically mixed into formulas that emphasize a lack of harsh chemicals and additives, it’s a favorite inclusion for “green” brands.
Your Best Body With Propolis
Taken as a supplement, propolis lends its anti-inflammatory healing properties to your existing immune system responses, boosting recovery and potentially even offering resistance against bacteria and fungal infections. Fast wound healing means less chance of infection as well, which is why propolis is also incorporated into creams and salves, in both prescribed medications and over-the-counter balms. Several studies have found that regularly applying a propolis-containing ointment to injuries like burns helped patients recover faster than a placebo or no treatment at all.
Whether you use a wound-specific propolis cream or opt for a moisturizing lotion that contains the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory agent, it’s easy to enjoy the benefits of bees’ hard work and smooth, healthy skin as well.
How To Consume Propolis Effectively?
Just like honey and the flower pollen used to make it, the exact composition of propolis will vary from hive to hive. While propolis should not be taken by anyone with a sensitivity to honey-based products or a bee allergy, different propolis sources may offer more powerful effects on the curious consumer. While derivative supplements (e.g., propolis capsules) contain a large amount of propolis, it’s not always optimized for consumption, and may even be passed through the body without doing much good.
Our human ancestors once discovered the sweet, delicious taste of honey by going straight to the source, and to this day, the glorious honeycomb offers the same honey by-products (including propolis) that are as easy to access today as they were thousands of years ago. Unprocessed and unfiltered, eating propolis as part of a honeycomb snack (propolis is what bees use to fabricate the white “caps” over each honeycomb cell) makes it both easily digestible and enjoyable. Rather than an over-processed pill or tablet, the experience is instead filled with the flavorful nuances of flower and pollen as well as the honey inside. In order to eat it au naturale, try snacking on a piece of Pass the Honey honeycomb and chewing the wax the way you would a gum. This will help your body absorb the benefits of propolis the same way humans have done for centuries.
Propolis In Healthcare
Used in a variety of off-the-shelf products at the consumer level, the healthcare field has also begun to explore what propolis is capable of as a treatment. Because it can be harvested without harming the hive (like honey and beeswax), propolis has the potential to become a true superstar in the fields of healing and bacterial resistance.
In the dental field, professionals have started experimenting with using propolis-containing compounds to treat and prevent caries – what we commonly call cavities – in teeth. Because bacteria needs an uninterrupted breeding ground to infect healthy tooth material and break it down, propolis works by making the tooth surface inhospitable to these invaders. These are just a few of many purported health benefits of honey that continue to garner attention and research within the world of science and medicine.
Propolis: An All-Purpose Wonder
In a hive, propolis is what keeps intruders, from chilly drafts to bacteria-carrying insects and rodents, from harming the careful internal balance. It does this in two ways – with a chemical makeup that prevents the growth and spread of bacteria and fungi, and a physical makeup that acts as a moisture-proof barrier.
By harnessing these twin properties in health and beauty and medical applications, humans have begun to see what all the “buzz” is about. To bees, this propolis solution is simply a sticky compound that helps smooth internal hive edges and keeps the colony safe. To humans, however, this “bee glue” may well be worth its weight in gold. From its use in skin products to healing treatments, the benefits are clearly manifold.
- “Propolis.” WebMD.com, (no publish date), https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-390/propolis. Accessed August 27, 2019.
- “Propolis.” Emedicinehealth.com, (no publish date), https://www.emedicinehealth.com/propolis/vitamins-supplements.htm. Accessed August 27, 2019.
- Conrad, Ross. “Processing Propolis: Part 1.” Bee Culture.com, September 26, 2016, https://www.beeculture.com/processing-propolis-part-1/. Accessed August 27, 2019.
- “Propolis Benefits.” Manuka Health New Zealand, (no publish date), https://www.manukahealth.co.nz/en-nz/propolis/propolis-benefits/. Accessed August 27, 2019.