Propolis (also known as ‘bee glue’) is a unique resinous aromatic substance collected by honeybees from the buds of willow, birch, poplar, spruce, fir, horse chestnut and other trees. This substance contains not only resins but also wax and plant pollen enriched with digestive enzymes and exposed to the process of lactic-acid fermentation in the digestive organs of bees. Depending on the species of plants from which bees collect propolis it may vary both in color and in its chemical composition. For example, if bees collect it from a birch tree, then it is greenish, if from a poplar – reddish, aspen – gray; you can also come across brown, reddish black and even almost black propolis. But fresh propolis is usually of a yellow or reddish color and when mixed with wax and dust it becomes darker. If speaking about the structure of this substance, it is a dense heterogeneous mass soluble in water and organic solvents.
A wonderful world of propolis
The chemical composition of this substance is not yet fully understood. It contains resins and balsams (about 50-55%), wax (30%), essential oils (10-15%) and pollen (5%). Besides that the following components can be found in it:
- Over 50 organic components and mineral elements (potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, aluminum, mercury, fluorine, antimony, cobalt, zinc, silicon, vanadium, iron, manganese, copper, strontium, selenium, zirconium, etc.);
- About 10 essential vitamins including B1, B2, B6, A, E, nicotinic and pantothenic acid, etc;
- 17 amino acids (serine, asparagic acid, glutamic acid, leucine, threonine, valine, arginine, etc);
Propolis owes its most important therapeutic action to flavonoids (biologically active substances) which make propolis a highly effective anesthetic and wound healing agent. In addition, bee glue has a great antimicrobial effect. There was an interesting experiment which confirmed its high antimicrobial properties – a piece of raw meat was covered with a layer of propolis and left in the sun. It remained fresh for several weeks.
Therapeutic Value or Why do people use propolis?
Propolis has a broad spectrum of action that is applied to the whole body, to all its systems and organs.
- Its main effect – bactericidal and bacteriostatic – is extensively used in medicine. Propolis has the power to inhibit the activity of a great variety of microorganisms as well as to kill many of them including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, viruses, protozoa (trichomonads), fungi (trichophytosis), candidiasis, viruses of influenza and hepatitis. Plus this substance destroys and removes foreign cells from the body with the native microflora of the host-organism saved intact. That’s why when propolis is used human gut flora suffers no damage, so you can avoid dysbiosis, unlike with antibiotics. It is true for both water and alcohol solutions of propolis. It is important to mention that microorganisms do not develop resistance to propolis during the whole period of use, no matter how long it lasts. That happens due to the fact that bees collect the material to produce propolis from a huge number of different plants each having its own specific characteristics which means that polyfloral propolis has the properties of many plants and, therefore, it is fatal for microbes. They just do not have time to adapt and develop resistance to bee glue. It is worth mentioning that when hives were studied for bacteria carrying (the study dates back to the 19th century) it was discovered that a healthy hive is completely sterile thanks to propolis;
- This miraculous substance inhibits the growth of viruses (smallpox, herpes, influenza A virus, hepatitis virus). Not only it inhibits their growth but also is able to prevent viral infections of the body;
- Simultaneous use of propolis together with antibiotics is quite rational, because in such case propolis enhances the action of antibiotics and at the same time preserves human gut flora;
- Propolis not only affects microorganisms but also increases phagocytosis – the process that helps the body get rid of foreign material using special cells called phagocytes - and that contributes to lesser intoxication of an already diseased body. Propolis will help the body remove foreign material from it as well as to recover from the stress caused by infection;
- Together with antibiotic action propolis shows anti-inflammatory effects which prevent, weaken and stop the progression of the inflammatory reaction caused by the foreign agents penetrated into the body;
- It improves the immunity and increases the level of gamma globulins in the body (thus, a so-called specific immunity (immunity to certain factors) is improved);
- It has antitoxic properties, thus, it is used for the treatment of various poisonings;
- Propolis is a great painkiller and shows good local anesthetic properties in the treatment of:
- the oral cavity, gums and teeth;
- the gastric mucosa damage (to treat gastritis it should be taken by mouth);
- wounds, burns and frostbites;
- injuries and eye burns.
- There is some information about the use of bee glue in the treatment of strokes and heart attacks. Here it is worth mentioning that it has a unique ability to accelerate the formation of tissues when there is tissue damage without forming rough and disfiguring scars;
- It promotes the regulation of the blood coagulation processes;
- Propolis helps cope with psoriatic process, it is widely used to treat this condition. It is included into the formulations and complex treatment of this difficult-to-treat disease;
This substance has many more therapeutic effects used for the treatment of various conditions. We’d like to mark out one special feature of propolis that distinguishes it from other honey products. Even when boiled for one hour or more it preserves its properties. Therefore, it can be used even for the cases when it should be warmed, boiled or used in a mix with boiling water.
How to use propolis?
For therapeutic purposes propolis is used in its pure form, in the form of water or alcoholic solutions and as ointments.
Used by mouth as:
- solid propolis (it should be chewed);
- a part of comb honey;
- a part of bee pollen;
- water or alcoholic solutions (it should be drunk);
- a part of comb capping.
Used topically as:
- plates, applications, ointments and compresses. In addition, propolis oil is used in aromatherapy.
Propolis standing on guard of the human digestive system.
Here are some formulas that can be used to treat various gastrointestinal disorders.
For gastrointestinal and bile ducts diseases:
- Propolis (10% tincture) – 10 parts
- Sea buckthorn oil – 1 part
Propolis tincture should be mixed with sea buckthorn oil. Take the mixture as follows – 20-30 drops together with milk or water 3 times per day about 1 hour before meals.
- Propolis – 100 g (3.53 oz)
- Milk – 15 l (7.11 pints)
Fresh whole milk to be boiled, removed from fire and cooled to 60-70°C (140 – 158°F). Add cut propolis to this milk and stir it slowly until propolis gets fully dissolved, after that filter the blend. When milk cools down remove the layer of solidified wax from its surface. Take 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) of propolis milk 3-4 times per day 30 minutes before meals.
For chronic gastritis with low acidity:
- Honey – 78 g (2.75 oz)
- Propolis (10% alcoholic extract) – 7 ml (0.24 fl oz)
- Kalanchoe pinnate (juice) – 15 ml (0.51 fl oz)
Mix any light-colored honey, kalanchoe juice and extract of propolis, then keep it on a boiling-water bath at 45°C (113°F) for 20-30 minutes stirring it up constantly. Take one tablespoon of the blend 3 times per day about one hour before meals. The treatment course should last for 1 or 2 months.
For peptic ulcer:
- Propolis (30% tincture) – 1 teaspoon
- Water – 50 ml (1.70 fl oz)
Dilute propolis tincture with water and drink it about 30 minutes before your breakfast.
Treatment course should last for 2-3 weeks.
- Propolis – 1 part
- Alcohol – 8 parts
- Water – 1 part
Prepare a 10% alcoholic solution using 80% alcohol. Take this solution as follows – 1 tablespoon of the solution 10 minutes before meals. Once the ulcer is cicatrized, you should do a week break and after that take it every second day for 6 months. The whole course of treatment requires 180 ml (6.09 fl oz) of the solution.
For peptic ulcer disease:
- Propolis – 100 g (3.53 oz)
- Dairy butter – 1 kg (2.21 lb)
Melt the butter and make it boil in an enameled pot. Leave it on fire and add minced propolis to it. Boil the blend for 15 minutes at 80°C (176°F). Pass it through 1 layer of gauze. Take 1 teaspoon of the blend 3 times per day one hour before meals.
Treatment should last for 3 weeks.
- Propolis – 10 g (0.35 oz)
- 70% ethyl alcohol (rectified spirit) – 100 ml (3.38 fl oz)
Put minced propolis into a glass bottle and pour rectified ethyl alcohol into it, shake it up for 30 minutes and leave it for 3 days to get prepared, then shake it up again and leave it for 2 hours in the cold, after that pass it through a paper filter. The tincture should be taken as follows – 15-20 drops together with boiled milk or tea 3 times a day about an hour or an hour and an half before meals during 18-20 days. Repeat the course of treatment in 1 or 2 weeks.
For the healing of peptic ulcer disease and especially for ulcers in young people
- Propolis – 10 g (0.35 oz)
- Wild rose or sea buckthorn oil – 100 ml (3.38 fl oz)
Clean, thoroughly cut propolis should be mixed with wild rose oil (or you can use sea buckthorn oil). Keep this blend on a boiling-water bath for a half an hour stirring it slowly with a stirring rod, then filter it using 2 layers of gauze and pour it into dark glass vessels. Just before using it add 30% oily solution of vitamin E – 1 ml (0.03 fl oz) of the solution for 10 ml (0.34 fl oz) of the prepared propolis blend.
For chronic gastritis as well as for the exacerbation of chronic colitis
- Propolis – 1 part
- 95% ethyl alcohol (rectified) – 5 parts
Granulated propolis should be mixed with rectified ethyl alcohol in a glass vessel and left in it for two days at room temperature. Then it should be filtered and diluted with cooled boiled water up to 30% of alcohol content. Take it as follows – 40 drops of the tincture for one glass of cooled tea or milk 3 times per day before your meals (as per your diet) for 10-15 days.
Also water solution of bee glue can be used to treat gastritis (1 tablespoon three times during a day half an hour or an hour before meals). At the same time you can combine the use of this solution with herbal teas that treat gastritis. Treatment lasts for 3-4 months.
Be careful while using bee glue because propolis may provoke allergic reactions such as rash, fever that disappears quite soon, hives, as well as breathing difficulties and edema. It has been noticed that such reactions are observed in people who have allergy to bees as well as in patients with allergic diseases (bronchial asthma, eczema, diathesis, nettle rash, etc.). Use propolis with caution if you have peptic ulcer disease.
In any case, before you start using propolis as a remedy you need to talk to your doctor.