The Health Benefits of Propolis
Let’s talk about some of the most influential contributors to the world as we know it. No, I’m not talking about Steve Jobs, or Benjamin Franklin, or the inventor of the wheel; I’m talking about bees. Yep, you read right… bees! Those flying, buzzing insects that most of us tend to fear! Not only do they carry out the pollination that is responsible for around 30% of the US food supply, but they also produce a plethora of substances that can naturally improve our health and well-being!
Honey, bee pollen and royal jelly are among these wondrous substances and deserve their own books-worth of praise. However, today we’re going to focus on a lesser-known but equally, if not more impressive bee product: Propolis.
Protecting the Hive
There can be up to 60,000 bees living in a typical hive, and due to this crowded environment bees need to be incredibly careful to safeguard their colony from infection! Clever bees started creating an antimicrobial substance that they use to “paint” the hive, protecting it from outside contaminants. But they didn’t stop there! Bees started by creating a propolis “door” in the entrance of their hives, serving as a method of cleansing each bee that enters of any microbes it may have come in contact! Long ago, beekeepers started noticing this waxy buildup and aptly named it PROPOLIS. PRO (in defense of) and POLIS (city)
Propolis is sometimes referred to as “nature’s penicillin” due to its impressive antimicrobial activity. Bee hives are considered the most sterile places in nature!
What Exactly Is Propolis?
Bees, acting as nature’s most adept herbalists, create propolis from plants and trees that surround their hive. Certain plants exude antimicrobial resinous substances that work to protect them from infection. To put this plainly, think about when you prune a plant in your garden. When you cut a stem, you are leaving an open wound on the plant. To protect itself, the plant secretes a substance to both seal and sterilize the wound. Medicinal plant resins have been revered as therapeutic remedies for thousands of years!
Bees create propolis by combining these plant resins with beeswax and enzymes from their saliva to create propolis!
Sounds good… But tell me more!
Hundreds of active compounds have been identified in propolis! Propolis contains NEARLY ALL of the known vitamins (except Vitamin K), and 13 of the 14 minerals required by the human body (lacking in sulfur). It also contains polyphenols, 16 amino acids AND 500 more bioflavonoids than are found in oranges!
Is All Propolis the Same?
All propolis types are extremely beneficial, however, because propolis is made from the vegetation surrounding the hive, propolis properties vary depending on the regional source.
Brazilian green propolis (BGP) comes from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil and is named for its vibrant green color. This propolis is derived mainly from alecrim, a relative of Rosemary, and contains remarkably high cinnamic acid derivatives that enhance its antioxidant effects. BGP is created by Africanized honeybees, which have adapted to living in a challenging environment, and the potency of their propolis reflects this fact!
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO
Are you sold on propolis yet? I’ve told you what it is… check back for our continuation of this blog series to find out exactly how it can benefit you!