Six Fascinating Things Everyone Should Know About Propolis

Updated: Jul 20

Propolis is best described as a resin.

Honeybees collect sap and resin from young tree buds and mix it with a bee pollen and enzymes to produce propolis.

With modern science re-discovering 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.

1. As far as propolis is concerned, there is no consistent chemical formula.

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, the environment and even the hive.

2. Honeybees Use Propolis for Mummification

– honeybees are not only very industrious animals, but they are also very tidy little creatures. Honeybees will remove all waste from their hive just as we take out the rubbish at our homes. However, on occasion a large invader could enter a beehive. The honeybees can typically neutralize the threat with ease, but they are left with a carcass of a dead body that they cannot remove because it is simply too heavy.

Nobody wants a rotting mouse in their living room, so the honeybees will encase the foreign body 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.

3.Propolis Was well known to Ancient Egyptians and Greeks and used 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 then applied topically as an ointment to scrapes, cuts, and burns to keep wounds free of infection and promote healing. Most, if not all of these traditional applications have now been confirmed by modern research.

Interestingly, propolis was also used in the Egyptian process of mummification. Observing the honeybee mummification process, the concept was then applied to their own burial practices.

4. Propolis is very complex to research

Propolis composes of over 300 different and complex compounds many of which acts in synergy between each other. This makes it very difficult for researchers to isolate a specific chemical responsible for certain actions. In the last decade, propolis has really started to gain research momentum as a possible alternative or support for several types of cancer treatments. Clinical studies have already demonstrated a stalling of tumour growth in response to propolis treatments but isolating the specific chemical that acts to slow the growth of tumours is very challenging.

5. Propolis acts as an immune system of the beehive

Propolis possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and even antiviral properties. It is used by honeybees to seal small gaps and cracks in their beehive. This helps to not only control the temperature and reduce vibrations but most importantly it keeps the inside of the hive clean and free of bacteria and disease.

6. New Zealand Propolis is the richest in CAPE and flavonoids*

80% of the plants and trees in New Zealand are native and not found elsewhere. These plants and trees have evolved their own defense systems to survive from environmental challenges such as high UV concentration. This requires them to produce elevated concentrations of bioactive compounds in their resin, nectar, buds and leaves to encourage symbiotic relationships to benefit both them the host and other species around them.

*Based on research by Peng et al, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, 2006

At Helena Health we are confident that when 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 Propolis liquid or Propolis Spray!

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