What is propolis and how does it help?
Q. Dear Terry, “One of my friends told me that she uses propolis for her immune system. What is propolis and how does it help?” — Noreen K., Richmond, VA.
A. Dear Noreen, Propolis is one of my favorite ingredients for strengthening the immune system. There’s little doubt that most people have heard about the health benefits of honey – immune and DNA protection are just two of them – but I think fewer people are probably familiar with propolis.
Propolis is made from the resins gathered from trees and other plants and then the bees modify this material with their own enzymes. They mix it with beeswax and make it into a protective antibacterial glue and sealant. It’s not surprising that the word “propolis” means “defender of the city” in Greek.
The main compounds in propolis typically include polyphenols, vitamins (including vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, and E), minerals (including magnesium, potassium, zinc, and calcium), enzymes, and antifungal and antibacterial flavonoids. Additionally, propolis also includes pinene and other essential oils occurring naturally in tree and plant resins.
With so many naturally-occurring compounds, it’s no wonder that propolis has such broad-reaching effects in the body. Propolis has been studied for its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-tumor effects.
I think one of the most important uses of propolis today is to fight “superbugs”. The over-prescription of antibiotics has led to dangerous bacterial resistance, creating a class of “superbugs” that synthetic antibiotics can’t stop, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Fortunately, there is a special propolis that has been shown to stop these “superbugs”.
Make sure you use propolis that comes from a controlled and managed bee population so the material provides consistent levels of bacteria and virus fighting compounds. Look for a clinically studied propolis that is purified and contains no beeswax. For daily support, I would take 100 mg of propolis and for enhanced support you could take 200 mg of propolis per day.
Terry . . . Naturally