Scientific name: propolis
Common name: propolis
Botanical classification: without, plant resin
Vegetable material produced by bees to ensure the asepsis of their hive, propolis, pure or liquid, is renowned since antiquity for its beneficial effects in the treatment and prevention of respiratory diseases. Excellent immunostimulant, it is a very active antibiotic and cicatrisant.
Propolis is made by bees from their secretions and substances, from resinous, balsamic and gummy origins, taken from trees and plants. The main species that produce this viscous material are conifers (such as pine, fir and spruce), and buds of alders, birches, poplars, willows, oaks, ash trees, chestnuts India and elms. The presence of each species is closely related to the season, geography, climateand species of harvesting bees.
All the material is used in herbal medicine, after washing and removal of the wax.
Propolis contains flavonoids (including chrysin, pinocembrin, galangin, quercetin); caffeic, ferulic and benzoic acids; vanillin; essential oils (pinene, eugenol, guiaol); vitamins; trace elements (including silica, zinc and iron).The material has more than 400 compounds, whose distribution varies significantly according to the hives and the periods of the year. Organic propolis proves to be the most effective because of its production in a preserved natural environment. The quality of propolis seems, in fact, extremely linked to pollution levels and, in particular, to the presence of heavy metals.
Known for more than 3000 years, propolis was frequently used by Egyptians to prepare ointments and mummify the dead. “Aristotle” , “Pliny the Elder” and other ancient civilizations, like the Greeks and Romans, appreciated it for its antiseptic and healing abilities. Pure propolis was thus part of the pharmacy of legionaries. During the middle Ages, it still contributed to the healing of arrow wounds. Despite some marginal uses, especially during the Boer War in 1902, it is gradually replaced, over the last two centuries, by traditional medicines. However, propolis retains all its properties to soothe respiratory diseases and stimulate the immune system.
Antiseptic and disinfectant
Propolis improves oral hygiene (prevention of cavities and canker sores) and reduces pain associated with periodontitis and gingivitis. It reduces the risk of recurrence of cold sores and genital herpes. It is considered as an effective antispasmodic against gastric acidity and inflammations of the intestine or colon, while regenerating the flora. It prevents and cures vaginal mycosis, even recidivating. It also relieves muscular and rheumatic pains and it calms and heals burns and sunburns.
The use of standardized preparations makes it possible to use propolis more quickly without having to treat it after harvest. The most successful products are capsules, powdered formulas and solutions, mixing oils and liquid propolis. They complement each other with propolis pure to go and original tincture, the use of which is more marginal.
It is possible to make many preparations yourself:
Quite similar to a food supplement, propolis has the benefit of having no threshold of toxicity.
Avoid the use of propolis in case of recognized allergy to the different products of the hive.
Few, minor and reversible side effects are usually related to allergic reactions to bee products. Urticaria, asthma and mild renal and respiratory insufficiency are the main disorders observed.
A risk of cross allergy seems to exist with the tiger balm and the balm of Peru as well as with preparations with balsam poplar.
No known interaction.
The anti-infectious properties of propolis and the benefits of its disinfecting action have been proven over the centuries. Its antibiotic properties, particularly effective against more and more powerful microbes, make it an important ally in the fight against all viral infections and diseases, such as colds, flu, sore throats, bronchitis or angina. Its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving powers relieve patients suffering from chronic cough, laryngitis, rhinitis and ear infections. Its antifungal action promotes the elimination of germs and fungi.
Because of the risk of developing sensitivity and then an allergy to bee products, taking propolis daily, without any real needs, is not advisable. It seems necessary to favor punctual cures, from three weeks minimum to three months maximum. Using standardized commercial preparations allows the assessment of personal consumption, even if the absorption of high doses shows no toxicity. According to the precautionary principle, it is therefore not appropriate to give propolis to pregnant women and children under 3 years of age.
According to a study from the University of Chicago in 2012, propolis contains a compound of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), whose anti-mitogenic properties could slow the growth of cancer cells, especially in the prostate. Other research focuses on its use during chemotherapy, to alleviate side effects. The results obtained in Japan, by “Mizukami" (Japanese oncologist), show a clear slowdown in the destruction of white blood cells and platelets and a real stimulation of immunity, allowing a faster healing.
Yves DONADIEU. Propolis, natural therapeutic. Maloine editions. 1986.
Gerard DUCERF. Ethnobotanical guide of phytotherapy. Promonature editions. 2006.
Collective work. The precise phytotherapy: nature at the service of your health. Alpen editions. 2012.
Eric MELIN. Beekeeping Botanical Course. Apiculture School of the Walloon Region.
Mark L. WINSTON. The biology of the bee. Frison-Roche editions. 1993.
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