Propolis is often spotted in a brown color although this can vary depending on the source from which it is found. At room temperatures, it is rather sticky and malleable which makes it easy to work with for the bees and when it hardens it becomes very tough and brittle, making for a perfect sealant to the bees' hives. The sealant was once thought to keep out weather and predators, however it's now believed to help the hive remain reinforced, prevent bacteria from getting in, and to reduce vibrations that would disrupt the bee’s living.
In addition to be a sacrilege for bees, propolis also has many medicinal uses in both Eastern and Western culture. For starters, propolis has myriad anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-fungal components which make it a great reliever for things such as burns, scrapes, cuts and can also be utilized for some viral infections.
Old timers have for years placed a small piece of the propolis under their tongues to ward off or aid in sore throats caused by the common cold. New age physicians believe that propolis can be pivotal in helping to strengthen the immune system.
The Hippocrates centuries ago relied on this resin to treat ulcers and external sores on the body by ingesting it or simply applying some of the resin from the bark to open wounds. Its anti-micro bacterial agents proved to be a godsend when there were few other medicinal options around. Later during World War II thousands of wounded soldiers were given propolis as an agent to heal their war wounds and fever brought on by wound infections.
Propolis has many of the same properties that traditional antibiotics have however since it is natural and not synthetic, those that use it in place of synthetic antibiotics report that they do not have any of the side effects that are commonly associated with traditional antibiotics. Many physicians refer to propolis as ‘nature’s antibiotic.’
In addition to these listed benefits, new studies have begun to show that propolis has many other beneficial ingredients including but not limited to:
• vitamins B 1, 2 and 3
Researchers have long been aware that the human body requires no less than 14 different minerals to function properly; what is staggering is that propolis contains 13 out of the 14 essential minerals, missing only sulfur.
Recently a series of researchers have investigated the benefits of another active compound in propolis. Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester and its possible positive effects on bone density have led some researchers to concluded in their elementary research that propolis may be able to reverse osteolytic bone diseases or possibly be taken as a preventive to the disease.
Why You Should Be Taking Propolis
As studies continue to find conclusive evidence about the powerful abilities of propolis, it appears that on a yearly basis, new information becomes relevant. Today propolis is used and recommended by the medicinal community to help with respiratory infections, to ease the symptoms of the common cold, ease nasal congestion, and treat ulcers, skin disorders and herpes.
Propolis can also aid in the healing of the mouth particularly after surgery and root canals as it has anti-bacterial properties that can ward off bacterial infections that sometimes occur after oral surgery and treatments.
When used as a anti-microbial mouthwash some researchers have found that propolis is just as effective, if not more so than calcium hydroxide which is what is needed to break down and fight the millions of germs and bacteria that collect within the mouth daily.
Developments in Cancer Research
Although still early in the studies scientists have begun to test the effects of propolis in regards to certain cancer cells such as those found to cause colon cancer. Many of the studies have showed positive results and researchers are recording instances of the antimicrobial properties within propolis actually causing the cancer cells to perish by necrosis. This is important because during necrosis, sometimes both the good and bad cells can be damaged; however in these studies the propolis worked at killing the cancer cells, while leaving the healthy cells alone.
There is still much research that is in its infantile stage, but thus far few if any side effects have been recorded. Those who have allergies to bee pollen or products may experience allergic reactions and should seek the advice of their physicians before taking propolis.
There are no known negative interactions to other medications or topical creams, however, consult a physician if you are currently on a medicinal regime to ensure that it is safe to take with those medications.