Propolis is a bee product of great medicinal value, good for inflammatory conditions, respiratory infections, liver and kidney health, skin disorders and dental cavities. There are many reasons why propolis is good for you and all have to do with its varied therapeutic action and beneficial effect on the immune system in particular. As long as there are no contraindications to eating propolis, the bee product can prove effective for a wide range of health issues, from poor immunity and arthritis inflammation and pain to acne and white spots on tonsils.
What is propolis? Also known as bee glue, propolis is a bee product made from tree resins, sap, sometimes insect resins, beeswax and saliva from honey bees. The bee product is used by honey bees to close openings in the hive and prevent molds, bacteria, parasites or intruders like rodents from getting inside. But above this, propolis has medicinal value for honey bees. This natural adhesive is a strong antimicrobial and has antifungal and antiparasitic activity, properties that support colony health. The same protective effects are transmitted to us via ingestion of small amounts or use of topical preparations.
Is propolis good for you? Actually, the bee product can be both good and bad for you, depending on how you use it, what for or whether or not you have a sensitivity or allergy to it or other bee products. The same goes for other healthy foods whose therapeutic action varies from person to person, such as ginger, turmeric or hot chili peppers. The biggest side effect of the bee product is that it can cause an allergic reaction and it is possible some people may not even know they are allergic to it until they eat it. Other than this, if there are no safety concerns, there are at least 11 great reasons why propolis is good for you:
1) Good for white spots on tonsils and throat. Taking propolis can help treat white spots on tonsils and throat because of its strong antibacterial action with reduces bacteria numbers and promotes healing. It can be taken alone, in combination with honey or used as a throat wash and can yield excellent results, clearing an infection in a matter of days.
2) Natural remedy for pharyngitis (sore throat). A sore throat is often a symptom of pharyngitis, an infection located in the back of the throat. Pharyngitis is extremely common among people of all ages and is caused either by a virus or a bacterium. Taking propolis in advance, when you experience the onset of symptoms can help prevent pharyngitis or better manage the symptoms and hurry recovery. Propolis tincture can help reduce inflammation of the back of the throat and encourage healing. Eating honey with propolis can help treat the pharyngitis altogether, although it is important to first see a doctor for a diagnosis.
3) Natural antibiotic. Bee propolis is a strong natural antibiotic with anti-inflammatory properties, useful for treating and managing respiratory infections such as colds, sinusitis etc. It is a highly effective immune booster as well, strengthening the body and improving the immune system response against infection and disease. Many people find it effective for preventing flus and colds.
4) Helps prevent dental cavities. Studies show the bee product holds excellent antibacterial properties and can make a great antiseptic mouth and throat wash, perfect for gum and teeth health. The bactericidal action of propolis against Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus fermentum, Streptococcus sobrinus and other microorganisms responsible for tooth decay recommend it for dental health and preventing cavities naturally.
5) Helps heal cold sores faster. Propolis preparations are used to help heal cold sores faster and are reported to be just as effective or more than certain topical medications. Eating propolis (in the amounts recommended) is said to reduce the incidence of canker sores, also known as aphthous stomatitis ulcers.
6) Age spots and acne benefits. Topical preparations using the bee product are believed to help improve the appearance of age spots thanks to propolis being rich in potent antioxidants. Moreover, its strong antibacterial action makes it potentially effective for acne, reducing bacteria numbers and thus improving the condition.
7) Anticancer properties. Studies show propolis extracts have anticancer activity and can effectively stop cancer cell proliferation and tumour growth in mice (Is propolis safe as an alternative medicine?). Moreover, research reveals that the origin of the bee product is important when it comes to its anticancer properties. Propolis from different regions of the world contains different antioxidant compounds with a varying action (Recent trends and important developments in propolis research). For example, certain types of Taiwanese propolis appears to be particularly effective against melanoma cells, while Okinawa propolis is unique in its composition and action.
8) Efficient against fungal infections. Because of its antifungal properties, the bee product has been used as a complementary therapy for the treatment of skin or toenail fungal infections. But although it does not clear infections completely, it works as an adjuvant and helps keep them under control.
9) Good for rheumatoid arthritis. Taking propolis can help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain to a certain extent. Its anti-inflammatory action is a result of a varied content of antioxidants, notably the flavonoids naringenin and quercetin, but also caffeic acid and other derivates of cinnamic acid.
10) Anti-diabetes properties. According to studies, propolis has a positive effect on blood sugar levels and reduces oxidative stress associated with diabetes. Animal studies suggest it can play an important role in diabetes prevention and, possibly, management.
11) Good for stomach ulcers. Bee propolis is reportedly good for peptic ulcer because of its strong antibacterial properties which exert a local antimicrobial action against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes gastritis and peptic ulcer.
The reason why I have not included the anti-allergy effects of propolis in the list of benefits is because it is dangerous for a person allergic to honey bees, different honey varieties or other bee products to eat it. You can never know its effect for sure and chances are it will trigger an allergic reaction in people already hypersensitive to bee products and their constituents. While it may support certain processes (example: anti-inflammatory action) and manifest anti-allergic properties as a result, this does not mean propolis is safe to use. On the contrary, all experts advise those with allergies to honey bees and their products to avoid them in any form because they are potentially unsafe for them.
If there are no safety concerns, medical or age-related restrictions, then there are plenty of reasons why propolis is good for you. Whether you eat it as it is, take it in tincture form or mixed with honey or use it as a topical preparation, propolis can help improve one’s digestive and skin health, treat respiratory infections and strengthen the immune system and the body overall.