Some of the most impressive health benefits of propolis include its ability to protect the immune system, prevent certain types of cancer, reduce inflammation, lessen allergic reactions, heal wounds, promote circulation, boost eye health, stop cell death, improve cognition, and strengthen bones.
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Although bees are perhaps most famous for their honey, they also have another valuable tool in their arsenal. Propolis, also commonly known as bee glue, is actually a type of resinous material that bees can collect on their legs from flowers, buds, and other sources of sap. This propolis is then brought back to the hive, where it is essentially used as a glue to fix damage in parts of the hive. While beeswax is generally used for the large-scale construction, this propolis is used continuously to repair their home. For thousands of years, propolis has been acquired and extracted from hives and used in traditional medicines. However, research has shown that humans are not the only ones who understand the value of propolis. Not only does bee glue repair the hive, it also protects against diseases and provides a healthy environment for them to survive.
Many of the applications of propolis for humans rely on those same characteristics. Research is ongoing concerning propolis’ use for many health issues, but thousands of years of traditional use says a lot. Since bees are found throughout the world, many different applications and uses for propolis have been discovered and popularized. With the rise of global information sharing, propolis has once again grown in popularity thanks to its many beneficial qualities. These health benefits are largely attributable to the terpenes, essential oils, antioxidants, organic compounds, and natural acids found in the propolis. Different regions contain different nutrient makeup and flower species, so propolis can vary in combination around the world. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the many health benefits of propolis!
Health Benefits of Propolis
As explained above, one of the most valuable aspects of propolis, both for humans and bees, is its natural antiseptic qualities. By spreading propolis or extract on wounds, you can protect open sores and cuts from infection, which are often far more serious than the wounds themselves. Secondly, the antioxidants contained in propolis can act to speed wound healing, stimulating blood flow and growth in those areas, along with reducing inflammation.
In a similar vein, propolis can also be used as an anti-inflammatory cream for bug bites and other skin afflictions not technically classified as wounds. For thousands of years, insect bites, rashes, and skin irritation of every kind has been treated with salves made with propolis or applying the substance directly to the skin. This makes it very effective today as a treatment for acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other infections on our body’s largest organ!
Some of the other active ingredients found in propolis stimulate the circulatory system in the body, which can help improve blood flow and oxygenation of various parts of the body. This means a boost in energy, more rapid wound healing, and a healthier metabolism. Blood flow through the arteries and blood vessels is also important to promote heart health, and will lessen the chances of blood clots, atherosclerosis, and subsequent heart attacks or strokes.
While we mentioned the antiseptic abilities of propolis above, the impact it can have on our immune system is actually much greater. By adding small amounts of propolis to your diet, you can actually increase the strength of your immune system due to its natural antiviral and antibacterial effects. Your immune system can use all the help it can get, and the unique composition of propolis found all over the world give an antioxidant boost throughout your system.
Free radicals are a problem that we all need to deal with, because they are the natural byproducts of cellular metabolism, but they can cause cellular mutation, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Fortunately, antioxidants are able to neutralize and eliminate free radicals from many different systems of our body, which is why a high-antioxidant substance like propolis can be so valuable. Antioxidants work in conjunction with the immune system to eliminate foreign invaders and slow down the advance of free radicals.
This antioxidant potential of propolis has made it very interesting to researchers who are constantly looking for new angles to attack cancer. As cancer is caused by mutated cells that then infect others, propolis has been shown to be an effective preventative measure for this in some types of cancer. Although research is ongoing and things are far from conclusive, it is still a very exciting time for cancer research as more and more traditional remedies are given their day in the sun, per se.
In recent research studies, propolis has been found to reduce the severity of allergic reactions. By inhibiting the production of histamines, which occur when an allergen is encountered, propolis can help lessen the impact of allergens and thus improve the normality and quality of life to those who use it.
Improve Cognitive Abilities
One of the other effects of antioxidants is an improvement in cognitive abilities. Free radicals are partially responsible for the “cobwebs” of old age, and by stimulating the use and creation of new neural pathways, propolis is able to keep cognitive disorders at bay and improve memory, retention, and interaction skills as we age.
Due to the antifungal and antibacterial properties of propolis, bee glue is also widely used in oral hygiene products. It has been found to reduce plaque, canker sores, herpes, and various other oral diseases that affect the lips, gums, and throat. Mouthwashes and toothpastes that use propolis or its concentrated forms have been very effective in improving oral health.
If you have ever worried about the quality of your vision as you age, then “look” no further than propolis, which has been connected to a reduction in cataracts formation. This is believed to be due to the antioxidants, amino acids, and bioflavonoids that are found in propolis.
Hair and Nails
For those who enjoy taking an organic approach to their cosmetic appearance, propolis has been known for thousands of years as a way to improve the healthy and beauty of your nails and hair. Whether in topical application to the skin and scalp, or through consumption, propolis can help your true beauty shine from within!
A Final Word of Warning: Although the benefits of propolis are impressive, side effects have been reported in the past, including for those who suffer from asthma and anyone with bleeding problems. Propolis can slow blood clotting and negatively impact respiration. If you are allergic to honey, bee products, or certain types of trees or saps, do not use propolis. Also, before adding propolis to your health regimen, speak to a medical professional and always get nutritional supplements and herbal remedies from trusted sources.