Nature provides us with effective medicines from many sources. One of the best – and partially processed by nature herself, is propolis.
The first step in propolis comes from bees. They gather this flavonoid and polyphenol-rich material from plants and trees near their hives. They then modified it with their own enzymes as they process the material into a protective antibacterial glue and sealant. It’s so protective, in fact, that the very word, “propolis” means “defender of the city” in Greek.
Previous research has shown that propolis interferes with viral replication and decreases lung inflammation, while at the same time, fortifying the immune system. Because of those actions, propolis caught the interest of researchers early in the pandemic.
It turns out that propolis has some of the same inhibitory actions on the Covid-19 virus as andrographis – it interferes with the ability of the virus’s spike ‘key’ and ACE2 receptor ‘lock’ to connect.
Propolis reduces the expression of a protein called “p21-activated kinase-1” or, simply, PAK1. PAK1 already has a bad reputation in cancer research, where it appears to accelerate tumor growth and the spread of cancer. In cases of Covid-19 (or any lung-affecting condition), PAK1 activity can also cause fibrosis in the lungs, the damage and scarring of lung tissue.
Propolis blocks inflammatory responses that lead to PAK1 activation, which, left to its own devices would also inhibit our natural protective B-cell and T-cell responses.
Propolis also contains caffeic acid phenethyl ester, a bioactive compound better known as CAPE. CAPE is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and also helps modulate the immune response as the lifespan of a virus progresses. It may help the body initially fight very strongly, and then moderate those inflammatory responses to prevent cytokine storms and other damaging and potentially dangerous reactions later.
Overall, propolis strengthens the immune response, destroys viral structures, stimulates antibody production, stops viral replication, and reduces inflammation and damage in the lungs – all key factors in fighting Covid-19.
Berretta AA, Silveira MAD, Cóndor Capcha JM, De Jong D. Propolis and its potential against SARS-CoV-2 infection mechanisms and COVID-19 disease: Running title: Propolis against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Nov;131:110622. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110622. Epub 2020 Aug 17. PMID: 32890967; PMCID: PMC7430291.
Propolis, a resinous material produced by honey bees from plant exudates, has long been used in traditional herbal medicine and is widely consumed as a health aid and immune system booster. The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in propolis products worldwide; fortunately, various aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 infection mechanism are potential targets for propolis compounds. SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells is characterized by viral spike protein interaction with cellular angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and serine protease TMPRSS2. This mechanism involves PAK1 overexpression, which is a kinase that mediates coronavirus-induced lung inflammation, fibrosis, and immune system suppression. Propolis components have inhibitory effects on the ACE2, TMPRSS2 and PAK1 signaling pathways; in addition, antiviral activity has been proven in vitro and in vivo. In pre-clinical studies, propolis promoted immunoregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including reduction in IL-6, IL-1 beta and TNF-α. This immunoregulation involves monocytes and macrophages, as well as Jak2/STAT3, NF-kB, and inflammasome pathways, reducing the risk of cytokine storm syndrome, a major mortality factor in advanced COVID-19 disease. Propolis has also shown promise as an aid in the treatment of various of the comorbidities that are particularly dangerous in COVID-19 patients, including respiratory diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Standardized propolis products with consistent bioactive properties are now available. Given the current emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and limited therapeutic options, propolis is presented as a promising and relevant therapeutic option that is safe, easy to administrate orally and is readily available as a natural supplement and functional food.
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