Defending the City: Harnessing the Ancient Wisdom of Bees for Whole Body Health

How do you protect a highly congested city of 60,000 people from disease?

With spit of course.

Sound weird?

Well it is kinda cool because this is exactly what bees do to protect their busy and crowded hives.

A typical honeybee colony is comprised of 20,000 to 60,000 bees all living and working in one incredibly congested hive. Due to the crowded nature of their environment, bees need to be especially vigilant about protecting their colony from disease. Just one tiny pathogen could spread infection throughout the entire hive.

For millions of years, bees have been perfecting the art of self-protection using a sticky substance known as propolis to coat and sterilize the interior of their hives.

Derived from the Greek words pro, “in defense ofand polis “city”, propolis was named when ancient beekeepers noticed that bees often built a wall of propolis at the entrance of their colony. Because bees have to enter through this “propolis gate”, the bees are cleansed of microbes as they enter the hive.

What is Propolis?

Propolis, also known as “bee glue”, is a substance derived from tree saps, flowers, and other botanical ingredients that surround the bee colony.  Certain types of trees secrete saps with antibiotic and antifungal properties in order to seal their wounds and protect themselves from infection. Medicinal tree saps have been used as therapeutic remedies for centuries; some of the most famous being the biblically significant Frankincense and Myrrh.

Bees take these powerful resins and blend them with their own waxes and saliva to create propolis, which they then use to coat their hives. In the hive, propolis protects against pathogens and diseases, as well as protecting the colony against harsh environmental factors, such as rain and frost.Essentially, the bees borrow the medicine of the trees and re-purpose it for their own defenses.

Called “nature’s penicillin”, bee propolis offers antibacterial, antiviral,antiseptic, antifungal and antibiotic-properties. Due to these capabilities, propolis sterilizes the environment in the hive to ensure the colony’s survival from generation to generation. A number of scientists have noted that the inside of a bee hive may be more sterile than a hospital!

Honey bees also use propolis to embalm any insects or animals that may invade the hive. Though any trespasser would be immediately killed by bee stings, the carcass of the body would be too heavy for bees to remove from the hive. Thus, the corpse is “embalmed” with propolis in order to prevent its decay and potential contribution to infection.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians also used propolis in mummification when they noticed this unique benefit.

Active Compounds in Propolis

Over 200 different active compounds have been identified in propolis, although potency and composition varies depending on the types of plants and trees in the region where the propolis is collected. Among these components are antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamin A, B vitamins, essential oils and amino acids. In general, propolis consists of approximately 55% resins, 30% beeswax, 10% ethers and aromatic oils and 5% bee pollen.shutterstock_204971626

Health Benefits of Propolis

Just as the bees “borrowed” the medicine from the trees, humans can harness the power of propolis for our own healing. Utilizing the healthful wisdom of bees, we may defend our own “cities” against microbes and disease with propolis supplementation.

Natural Antibiotic Properties

Propolis has the highest antimicrobial capabilities of any bee product. The methods of antimicrobial activity are thought to be a synergistic effect of all compounds present. When propolis is administered, pathogenic bacteria are no longer able to reproduce and the body’s natural defenses to that pathogen are strengthened.

Propolis inhibits harmful bacteria without destroying your body’s friendly bacterial population, or creating bacterial resistance. Propolis has been proven to have inhibitory effects on some strains of drug resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and H.pylori, and has shown a synergistic effect when combined with standard antibiotic usage.

For those of you who know that there are different classes of bacteria, it has been suggested that propolis is more active against gram-positive pathogens, but many gram-negative bacteria are also inhibited.

Natural Anti-fungal Properties

Just as propolis protects the beehive from fungal infections, it can do the same in the human body. Propolis has been shown to have fungicidal effects against Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei and Trichosporon spp. A recent study suggests that propolis treatment is as effective as the antifungal medicine nystatin for treatment of oral yeast infections. Data also suggests a boost in the fungicidal activity of macrophages by propolis stimulation. I recently reviewed some natural support for fungal infections such as Candida.

Antiviral Properties

Various studies have shown propolis displays anti-viral activity against small pox vaccine virus, influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, rift valley fever virus, and avian influenza virus. Two separate studies have also shown propolis treatment to be effective against HPV. Studies on antiviral capabilities of bioflavonoid extracted from propolis did not show as strong of an effect as propolis itself, suggesting a synergistic effect of all of the compounds in propolis working together on antiviral activity.

Nature’s remedies are much more dynamically orchestrated than a pharmaceutical drug – often acting beneficially in multiple areas at once whereas pharmaceutical regimens tend to target a very specific area at once.

Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, irritants and free radicals. The high concentration of bioflavonoids and cinnamic acid derivatives present in propolis act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents by fighting infectious agents which may be associated with less pain and a reduction in both acute and chronic inflammation. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a constituent of propolis, has been shown to possess immune-modulatory and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Antioxidant

Compared to pollen and royal jelly, propolis exhibits the highest antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of propolis correlates well with its total concentration of polyphenols. Active free radicals are involved in almost all the cellular degradation processes and leads to cell death and the resulting oxidative stress is thought to conttibute to the development of chronic and degenerative diseases.

Hyperglycemia and Diabetes

Propolis may reduce blood sugar levels in both animal and human test subjects with diabetes. Another study with diabetic rats showed propolis to have effects on altering the metabolism of blood lipids, leading to decreased lipid peroxidation and concurrent oxidative stress.

Dental Health

Recent dentistry research has displayed evidence that propolis may protect against dental caries and other forms of oral disease due to its inhibition ofStreptococcus mutans enzyme activity and its inherent antimicrobial properties. Studies conducted with propolis added to toothpastes and mouthwashes showed plaque-cleaning, plaque inhibiting, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Colitis

Propolis has shown inhibitory action against H. pylori, associated with gastric ulcers and colitis. It has been used alone or in combination with antibiotics for in the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers. The CAPE from propolis also may reduce “insults” to the colon, and also may be associated with lower levels of inflammatory chemicals, resulting in decreased inflammation of the colon.

Tissue Repair and Wound Healing

Topical applications of propolis have been shown to speed up tissue repair in subjects with second-degree burns by stimulating collagen production, enzyme systems and circulation. The anti-inflammatory properties of propolis also reduced local swelling and irritation. Propolis ointments have also been used against cold sores and herpes simplex skin lesions.

Immune Boosting

Flavonoids and phenolic acids in propolis display immune-modulating effects by increasing antibody production and macrophage activity, which builds the body’s resistance to disease.  Bee propolis not only prevents the onset of infection, but helps to rapidly clear them from the body which protects us from cellular deterioration.

Borrowing from Nature’s Laboratory

Nature is the world’s finest laboratory with millions of years of live study. Bees are one of the most interesting species in their social behavior, their class hierarchy, and the health benefits of their honey, pollen, propolis and more. Unfortunately, with the rise of genetically modified crops and the use of pesticides, it is feared that some bee species are in trouble of extinction, and colonies have been mysteriously disappearing.

It would be a shame to lose the ability to leverage the unique health benefits bees offer us humans, and propolis is one of those unique gifts.

Interested in taking Propolis? Check out our Propolis Plus product here!

Co-written by: Alex Charles and Dr. Alexander Rinehart

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Say ‘Adios’ To Allergies

Recently, Dr. Susanne Bennett, a member of Essential Formulas’ Scientific Advisory Board, was interviewed by Dr. Manny of Fox News. Dr. Bennett talks about her 7-day method to get rid of allergies, which is the basis of her new book The 7 Day Allergy Makeover. Below is the article from Fox News, click here to watch the video of her allergy makeoverinterview.

Say goodbye to cold frigid weather and hello to warmer temperatures because spring has finally arrived!

But for many of us, the blossoming season can only mean one thing–allergies.

Instead of reaching into your medicine cabinet, consider these natural solutions to get rid of your allergies once and for all.

According to Dr. Susanne Bennett, a natural allergy specialist and author of the new book, “The 7-Day Allergy Makeover,” uncovering the root cause of allergies can stop symptoms from recurring.

“Medications only minimize the symptoms— it does not get to the root cause. Let’s go beyond popping a pill and heal the body by going in and finding out what the root of the problem is,” Bennett told FoxNews.com.

To create an allergy-free lifestyle, Bennett recommends her 7-day holistic program:

Day 1- Nutrition

The first step to restore your health from the inside out is by eliminating allergenic foods and beverages from your diet.

“I believe that what you eat has a big impact on the rest of your body because our immune system and our gut can be inflamed from the foods that we eat,” Bennett said. “Heal your gut by eliminating certain foods so you can see how your body feels without them.”

Bennett has found that many people are sensitive to dairy, gluten, sugar, fungal foods, alcohol, peanuts and eggs.

Day 2- Water

The more water we drink, the better chance we have at breaking down and flushing out harmful allergens and toxins from our bodies.

“The more hydrated your body is, the fewer allergies you will have; but drink purified water!” Bennett said.

Studies have shown that the drinking water in the U.S. contains thousands of chemicals and contaminants. Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors the levels of containments in our water, some people may be more sensitive to potential harm caused by chemicals.

“Over time, the chemicals we ingest from our water build up and [this] puts more stress on our immune system, ultimately lowering our ability to handle allergens,” she said.

Bennett recommends using a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration unit to get 100 percent clean water that’s free of heavy metals, natural and synthetic toxins, microbes, debris and minerals.

Day 3- Air

To clean up your air, Dr. Bennett suggests three basic tips:
1) Block out what you can by shutting doors and windows on windy, foggy days.
2) Invest in a proper air filter for your home.
3)  Don’t add anything that can make allergies worse like plastics and synthetics.

“We don’t realize that there are a lot of toxins in our indoor air quality, so we want to make sure that we have an air purifier to get rid of those allergy triggers like pollen and dust-mites. You don’t want the type of air purifiers that are called ionizers, you need a HEPA (high-energy particulate air filtration) [purifier],” Bennett said.

Day 4- Living environments

Keeping your home as clean as possible will help remove airborne allergens circulating around your house.

“Allergy-proof your bedroom by getting dust mite covers for your bed and pillow covers,” Bennett said. “And get rid of any allergens you can clean out like pet dander, mold from magazines and books and dust from window treatments.”

Bennett also recommends using a natural cleaner and dusting regularly.

Day 5- Kitchen

Kitchenware can also affect your allergies. When scratched and heated, non-stick pots and pans can release harmful chemicals that can affect your allergies. The safest pots and pans to use are glass, enamel and cast iron.

“Kitchens can be one of the worst allergens in the entire house.  We have plastics that can actually burden our body and we have different types of pots and pans that are not as healthy as we think,” Dr. Bennett said.

Dr. Bennett also recommends buying glass containers instead of plastic.

“All plastics have the potential to leach into our food, especially if they are heated or used to store acidic foods like tomato sauces,” she said.

Day 6- Body

If allergens don’t enter our body through food, water or air, the next culprit is our skin.

Taking good care of your skin helps strengthen immunity because your body is not struggling with rashes, dirt or bacteria.

“There are about a million bugs growing on our skin so it’s important to wash our body properly- and that means no two-minute showers,” Bennett said. “I recommend a full cleanse by washing and scrubbing your body with a mild probiotic soap and cloth that will exfoliate your skin.”

Bennett also suggests showering before you go to bed to wash off the pollen, dirt and smog from your body before getting settled into your clean bed.

Day 7- Emotional health

A stressed and worn-down body has a more difficult time dealing with allergens.

“You don’t find an allergic person that is a calm person. People who are allergic and sensitive are more agitated and overwhelmed- you know life is a little more difficult. So what I suggest is calming your nervous system down with various tools such as deep breathing and going out and being in nature,” Bennett said.

To help your body relax, she also suggests creating a daily routine and making large to-do lists manageable by breaking them down into smaller lists for specific tasks.