Let’s find out everything about this precious natural substance collected and reworked by bees which boasts anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Propolis, also called by the Latin name propolis, is a natural substance collected and reworked by bees, which use it to strengthen the honeycombs.
Since ancient times, it has been taken and used by man for different purposes, including health benefits. Propolis, used to disinfect the oral cavity, accelerate wound healing, or as an antipyretic, boasts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
Currently, propolis is used to prepare food supplements that allow you to prevent and fight seasonal colds, naturally soothe a sore throat and counteract the alterations that affect the digestive system, such as peptic ulcer induced by NSAIDs or Helicobacter Pylori.
Propolis, however, is also effective on the skin: in fact, we find propolis-based face creams, which are mainly used to reduce acne, and body creams containing propolis which instead promote the healing of sores and wounds.
Let’s get to know propolis and discover all its benefits and properties.
- What is propolis, and what is it for?
- What are the benefits of propolis?
- How and when do you take propolis?
- What are propolis supplements on the market?
- What are the contraindications of propolis?
Table of Contents
What Is Propolis, And What Is It For?
Propolis is a product made by bees, which in their wanderings collect not only the nectar of flowers, used for the production of honey, but also the resin that coats different parts of some plants (especially poplars, birches, pines, firs, horse chestnuts, willows, oaks, and elms).
Bees use propolis to strengthen the honeycomb cells, and thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, it can discourage mold growth, fungi, and bacteria. Propolis is taken especially on sunny and hot days as it is more malleable. Therefore, it is easier to extract and work with.
To produce propolis, bees add wax, pollen, and enzymes in their saliva to the resin and then knead everything with their paws. The resulting paste has a very aromatic smell and a color that can vary from ocher to black, depending on the origin of the raw material.
Once harvested, propolis should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light. Once mature, the propolis appears hard and brittle. Therefore, the beekeeper must use a spatula to remove it from the comb. Alternatively, nets can be used from which it is easier to obtain them, as they can be detached using alcohol, thus also favoring the elimination of waste products.
What Are The Benefits Of Propolis?
The benefits of propolis are innumerable. This substance manages to act both locally, on the mucous membranes, and the skin, but it can also exert its action on a systemic level on the whole body. In the latter case, propolis is used for:
- Stimulate the immune system, a beneficial action in the presence of colds and seasonal influences, which often affect the upper airways;
- Protect the gastrointestinal tract, reducing the incidence of ulcers and gastritis. A supplement used for this purpose is Santiveri Ulcer Gastric Capsule ;
- Reduce the aggressiveness of bacteria thanks to its antibiotic and bacteriostatic action, which reduces the motility of pathogens;
- Counteract fungal infections such as, for example, candida;
- Strengthen the capillary walls thanks to the presence of flavonoids.
Propolis, as mentioned, can also be used locally on the skin and mucous membranes. For example, you can use propolis-based spray products such A Propolis Spray to counteract inflammation and irritation or mouth ulcers.
Propolis-based creams such as Argital Propolis Cream 50 ml, on the other hand, can be used both on the face and the body; these are intended to improve impure skin affected by acne. Still, they also manage to counteract burns, ulcers, and dermatitis.
All the properties of propolis derive from its composition. Among the main constituents are waxes, essential oils, pollen, and, to a minimal extent, organic and mineral compounds, including flavonoids, terpenes, vitamins, and enzymes.
It is necessary to specify, however, that since it is a natural product, it does not always contain the exact quantities of substances: these can vary according to the harvest period, the type of resin that the bees use for production but also about the solvents used for washing and purification.
Before being sold, the propolis is standardized, and the microbiological and chemical purity is also evaluated. A Swiss Beekeeping Research Center study showed that better-quality propolis has a wax concentration of no more than 50%. If you want to obtain a final product with a greater quantity of flavonoids, you should carry out an extraction using a mixture with 60-80% ethanol, no less.
How And When Do You Take Propolis?
Propolis is available in various pharmaceutical forms (in drops, sprays, candies, or tablets), the administration of which depends on the subject’s age and the condition to be solved. The therapy followed with propolis-based products is sometimes different; the doses and administration methods vary according to other factors.
All the instructions to follow for the correct intake of a food supplement are in a leaflet in the package. In any case, it is recommended to take the oral preparations away from meals to facilitate absorption and prevent the taste of propolis, which is very bitter and unpleasant if not corrected by sweeteners or flavorings, from creating alterations in taste or nausea.
What Propolis-Based Supplements Are On The Market?
Propolis is commercially available in many pharmaceutical forms. Indeed one of the most used remedies is propolis in spray such as Aboca Propolgemma Hydroalcoholic Extract 30 ml, mainly used to treat throat and pharynx pain and promote the healing of small buccal lesions.
These preparations are often used in children as they are easy to take: variants specially designed for the little ones, such as Marco Viti Tusseval Spray Propolis Children 30 ml or Zeta Farmaceutici Golasept Propolis Baby Spray Strawberry 30 ml, to be sprayed two or three times a day.
Propolis candies can also perform a beneficial action on the oral cavity. In this case, it is better to choose sugar-free ones such as Phytogarda Sanagol Propolis 24 Candies. If you want a product that dissolves in your mouth, an alternative to alleviate gingivitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis is pure raw propolis; tiny crystals are enough to obtain various benefits, but it is advisable not to exaggerate the dose of this preparation as it can stain the teeth and give an intense itching to the tongue.
Mother Tinctures And Propolis Extracts
Another standard propolis-based formulation comprises the mother tincture and the extracts ( Apropos Estratto Pure Propolis). Both are made with cold maceration in which the substance is brought into contact with a hydroalcoholic solvent; in the section, we proceed to heat to concentrate further the preparation, which does not happen in tinctures.
These solutions can be swallowed pure or diluted or used to gargle, which is ideal for combating mycosis, canker sores, and oral abscesses. If you want to avoid alcohol, you can choose products such as Dr. Giorgini Propolis Integral Extract Liquid Alcohol-Free, extracted with other substances, such as glycerin.
Propolis In Tablets Or Pearls
Propolis is also available in formulations consisting of oral solids, among which are: Bios Line Apix Sedigola pearls, helpful in combating seasonal ailments, Erba Vita Propolis EVSP Effer Prop 20 tablets to be dissolved in water and used mainly during the cold season to reduce the appearance of colds or Montefarmaco Propoli Mix Defend Tablets which, in addition to propolis, is enriched with vitamin C, zinc and copper, which reduce fatigue and perform an antioxidant action.
What Are The Contraindications Of Propolis?
Propolis, in general, can be considered a safe substance, but if the dosages indicated on the product packaging are not respected and abused, it could generate undesirable effects. In these circumstances, gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea occur, but also burning dryness and ulcers of the oral mucosa.
In addition to this, there may be alterations in blood coagulation; for this reason, propolis should not be used if oral anticoagulant therapies are being followed. Usually, these symptoms subside spontaneously after stopping the administration of preparations or supplements.
Furthermore, not infrequently, based on personal sensitivity, propolis could create allergies; in this case, it is necessary to pay attention to all products that include this substance in traces. Therefore it is advisable to read the list of supplement ingredients and foods carefully. If you decide to have therapy with propolis-based preparations, always consult your doctor, especially if you are in a particular period of life, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding.