April 24, 2024

Propolis: A Natural Antibiotic and Healing Agent Produced by Honey Bees

Beekeeping is an important part of many agricultural communities around the world. Honey bees not only produce honey, but also gather materials and produce substances that are beneficial to health. One such substance is propolis, a natural “glue” that honeybees produce by combining beeswax and resins collected from tree buds and bark. Propolis has been used for centuries in traditional medicine due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.

What is Propolis?
Propolis, also known as bee glue, is a sticky resinous substance collected by honeybees from tree buds and bark. Bees use propolis to patch holes and cracks in the hive protecting it against invaders and infectious microorganisms. Propolis has a sticky consistency similar to wax at room temperature, but turns hard and brittle when cool. The color ranges from green to dark brown depending on the resins bees gather from different plant sources. Chemical analysis has found propolis to contain 50% resin and vegetable balsam, 30% wax, 10% essential and aromatic oils, 5% pollen and 5% various other substances including organic debris.

Components and Health Benefits of Propolis
Propolis has over 300 constituents including flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenoids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that contribute to its antimicrobial and healing properties.

Flavonoids such as galangin, pinocembrin, pinobanksin and chrysin are the major active ingredients. They exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and immunostimulating effects.

Phenolic acids like caffeic acid, cinnamic acid and ferulic acid are strong antioxidants and have antimicrobial effects against various pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Terpenoids including artepillin C enhance the antibacterial power of propolis. They also reduce inflammation and heal wounds.

Essential oils including vanillin, eugenol and benzyl alcohol inhibit bacterial growth and have antifungal properties.

Propolis has been shown scientifically to kill various harmful microbes including viruses like influenza, bacteria like staphylococcus and streptococcus, and fungi. It speeds up recovery from wounds and ulcers due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Propolis may boost immunity and help protect against cancer development as well.

Propolis in Traditional Medicine
Due to its healing properties, propolis has been used traditionally since ancient times as a natural remedy. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, mentioned propolis as a treatment for wounds and ulcers. Many traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and native South American cultures have documented propolis as an antimicrobial agent.

Some common uses of propolis in traditional medicine include:

– Treating wounds, boils, burns and cuts by applying propolis ointment to promote healing and prevent infections.

– Soothe sore throats, coughs and laryngitis by gargling or throat lozenges made with propolis extract.

– Reducing fever and relieving joint and muscle pain using propolis ointments.

– Treating dental cavities, gingivitis or mouth ulcers when applied as a toothpaste or mouthwash.

– Reducing skin inflammation or acne applying creams containing propolis.

– Boosting immunity against common colds and flu by taking propolis capsules or syrup.

Modern Medicinal and Commercial Uses of Propolis
Today propolis is extensively studied for its biological activity in clinical research. Various propolis products are now mass produced commercially and finding applications in food, cosmetics and medicine industries.

Some modern uses of propolis include:

– Propolis supplements to boost immunity, healing and cancer prevention evidenced by several clinical studies.

– Component of various mouthwashes, toothpastes and dental cream brands due to germ killing properties.

– Ingredient in skin care products like creams, lotions and serums for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to treat conditions like eczema.

– Natural preservative used in foods since it inhibits bacterial growth and maintains freshness without using chemicals. Commonly used in honey-based products.

– Pharmaceutical applications to make antiseptic creams, ointments to treat burns, wounds and skin ulcers. Research on antiviral and anticancer drugs as well.

Propolis is a remarkable example of how honeybees convert plant materials into a substance with medicinal properties far beyond its simple composition. With its long history of traditional uses and growing scientific validation, propolis is establishing itself as a natural antibiotic resource with vast therapeutic potential. More research on the bioactive components should help uncover additional benefits and applications of this bee-made agent in medicine to promote natural healing.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it