What is propolis and what are its uses?
Q. Dear Terry, “What is propolis and what are its uses? I just saw a propolis product at a natural grocery store and want to know more. Is it like royal jelly or honey?” — Jillian M., Bend, OR
A. Dear Jillian, 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 modified by the bees’ own enzymes as they process the material, mix it with beeswax, and make it into a protective antibacterial glue and sealant.
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 choose a 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. I would take propolis once per day for maintenance of good health.
Terry . . . Naturally