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Propolis: Nature's Warrior

Most likely you are familiar with products from the hive such as honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly.  Another amazing product from the hive that you may not know much about is propolis.  We like to think of propolis as nature's warrior protecting honeybees from harmful predators (bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc.).

What is Propolis

Holding a bowl of propolisAlso known as "bee glue", propolis is a resinous substance made by honeybees.  It plays a very important role in the hive as it is used as a sealant to close up small holes and cracks.  This natural "glue" is also known to reinforce the structural stability of the hive, make the hive more defensible by sealing alternative entrances and prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive by inhibiting bacterial and fungal growth.  Before it is used in the hive, honeybees collect sap from trees and combine it with nectar found in their own secretions.  Eventually, it becomes a sticky mixture consisting of balsams, wax, essential oils and bee pollen.  For this reason, just chewing on a wad of tree resin won't produce the same therapeutic benefits as propolis.  Honeybees must transform the resin into propolis and only they know how.

The composition and color of propolis will vary from hive to hive, location to location, and season to season.  Most typically, it will be dark brown in color and consists on average of 50% balsam and resin, 30% wax, 10% essential oil and 5% pollen.  Scientists have researched the typical chemical composition further and have found that it contains more than 300 natural compounds including amino acids, bioflavonoids, and polyphenols.  Except for vitamin K, it contains all the known vitamins.  Of the fourteen minerals required by the human body, it contains them all with the exception of sulfur.  Like royal jelly and bee pollen, propolis also contains a number of unidentified compounds which work synergistically together to create a perfectly balanced, nutritive substance.

Why should you use Propolis?

Using propolis  is not some new fad.  It has been used in traditional medicine dating all the way back to 350 B.C.  Greeks used it to treat abscesses, Assyrians used it to help heal wounds,, and the Egyptians used it for mummification.  Today, propolis is known to have effective antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antibiotic properties when used internally and externally in humans.  Propolis has been and continues to be studied in the scientific community to treat many different types of ailments.

How should you use Propolis?

We always recommend talking with your doctor before taking any new supplement. As a topical treatment for burns, cuts, cold sores, and fractured teeth as well as for sore throats, we recommend using propolis tincture which is a liquid propolis containing food grade alcohol.  The tincture will act as sort of a "band-aid" sealing and coating the area affected.  Just a few drops will go a long way.  For longer-term prevention to ward off colds and other types of ailments, we recommend using propolis capsules.  It is suggested to take one 500 mg capsule per day.  One word of caution before using propolis, although it doesn't contain any of the 8 major allergens, bee products may cause allergic reactions in some people.  Also, if you have asthma, some experts advice avoiding propolis as it is believed that some substances it contains may make asthma worse. Again, always recommend checking with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement program.

 The information provided above has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is not approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  The information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional.  You should not use this information for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.  You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. 

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