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A red or brown resinous substance collected by honey bees from plants and trees, used by them to fill crevices, seal and varnish honeycombs, and to prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive.
Word comes from Ancient Greece and means “in defense of the city” or “in defense of the hive”.
Propolis has been used extensively throughout history in various parts of the world. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians made use of propolis as a medicinal source to treat inflamed tendons and ulcers. In Central America, the Incas would drink propolis to reduce fevers and as an antiseptic. Even at some point, propolis was being widely used by physicians and became far more valuable than honey.
What is it made of
The components that make up propolis vary depending on the geography but they mainly consist of tree resins, wax produced by bees, essential oils and other organic materials from plants and flowers. The components that make propolis beneficial are a combination of vitamins, natural minerals, phenolic acids and flavonoids. Flavonoids are natural antiseptics produced by plants, which they use to protect themselves against bacteria and mold, making flavonoids a powerful natural antibiotic. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular system benefits are some of the other great advantages of the flavonoids found in propolis.
What is propolis
Propolis is a yellow to brownish wax-like substance collected by honeybees from resins in various plants, flowers and from trees such as oaks, willow, birch, and poplar. Bees collect the resins with their mandibles and then carry it off to their hives. In the hives, propolis is used by the honeybees to seal cracks, open spaces, smooth out the internal walls and protect the colony from intruders as well as diseases. The composition of propolis depends greatly on the species of honeybees, vegetation in the region, and the collection season. The propolis resin is known to have great antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties and it has been used over time for its therapeutic properties.
Where does it come from
Interestingly enough, not all honeybees forage for propolis. Western or East European honeybees and Brazilian honeybees are the only ones known to make use of propolis. Since these geographical locations contain different flora, the propolis gathered from these areas differ slightly in appearance but their properties and uses are relatively the same.
Benefits of Propolis
Propolis contains a complex of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as well as a unique range of flavonoids in their original and natural combination. It is believed that the flavonoids contained in propolis block the release of histamine by means of cell membrane lipid stabilization. This creates inner immunity against many illnesses. These same ingredients in propolis guard against the deposition of cholesterine crystals, lipofuscins (fatty pigment in the heart muscle, nerves, liver) which could accelerate aging.
I keep a bottle in my medicine cabinet for quickly treating all sorts of things: Healing burns and reducing scarring. Works well for cystic acne, cold sores and virtually any other type of skin irritation. Orally it works great to reduce swelling due to mouth sores and to treat gum inflammation.
Be forewarned that it is a very thick, gunky substance, that is quite sticky. Using topically I like applying it to a swab or small bandage pad that can be easily removed after it dries. When taking as a dietary supplement it is recommended to mix the tincture into a spoon of honey, which helps prevent it from sticking to your teeth. This is a very concentrated extract – highly recommended!