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What is Bee Propolis?

By Angela Van Alten, RNCP

Sometimes referred to as bee glue, propolis is a dark, sticky resin that seeps from the buds of some trees and bark. Honeybees blend it with wax flakes secreted from special glands on their abdomens. 

The word Propolis comes from two Greek words: “pro,” which means before and “polis,” which means city. Bees use it to narrow the opening of their “cities” or hives to keep out unwelcome intruders. 

Some Benefits of Propolis 

As a child, whenever I started to feel like I was getting sick, my mom (Co-founder of Dutchman’s Gold) would simply give me propolis and raw honey. Looking back, I rarely got sick as a child. In fact, to this day I rarely get sick, and I really believe that my regular use of bee pollen and propolis helped support my natural immunity. 

Now, as a mother of two, I know that a little bit of propolis 3 times per day does wonders for supporting my immune system, as well as my children. Yes, propolis is safe for both young and old. 

Bee propolis has a tremendous number of healing properties and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy. Health Canada permits propolis to be sold as a natural treatment for sore throats, mouth and throat infections. 

While pure propolis has an odd taste, flavored options are now emerging, making it easier than ever to get this immune booster into your daily regiment!  

The Best Ways to Consume Propolis 

Traditionally, Bee propolis was available inliquid tincture form and capsules. You could also find it in unprocessed chunks, which were chewed, often unsuccessfully, due to the very waxy nature of pure propolis.  

Fortunately,modern processing techniques and natural flavoring has allowed us to make propolis much easier and enjoyable to consume.   Easy to ingest, flavored sprays are widely available, as are family favorite, gummy options.

Liquid tinctures still exist.  One note of caution. Don't simply squirt the dark liquid into your mouth,  it has been known to stain the teeth of some, although not all users.  Be careful to squirt the liquid directly into the back of your throat, if you choose the tincture format.

So How Does Propolis Work? 

Biological activities of propolis are mainly attributed to the phenolic compounds such as flavonoids. Flavonoids have been reported to exhibit a wide range of biological activities, including antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and vasodilatory actions. 

A study was done in Germany with 1059 beekeepers to ask them what they use Propolis and other bee products for. 

They reported, among other things, that they used bee propolis most frequently to treat colds, wounds and burns, sore throats, gum disorders and also as a general prophylactic, while pollen was most commonly used as a general prophylactic and, less frequently, in treating prostate diseases. No adverse experiences were reported. 

What is Bee Propolis Made Of? 

These are the substances that give propolis the healing properties: 

  • 55% Resinous compounds and balsam 
  • 30% beeswax 
  • 10% Ethereal and Aromic Oils 
  • 5% Bee Pollen 

Propolis contains many minerals, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as beta carotene, bioflavonoids, vitamins B1 and B2. 

As a concentrated source of bioflavonoids, (it contains more bioflavonoids than oranges) propolis may help strengthen capillary walls and connective tissue, enhance absorption of vitamin C, and play a supportive role in reducing respiratory infections, bleeding gums, varicose veins and many other ailments. 

Many who take propolis regularly report fewer colds, flus, infections along with greater stamina and energy. 

Other trace components found in Propolis: 

  • Pinobanksin-5 methyl ether (helps with antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, immuno-stimulating and anti-inflammatory actions) 
  • Galangin, Chrysin, Pinobanksin, Pinocembrin, Cinnamic Acid, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Vanillin, (Galangin and Chrysin are important Estrogen and Testosterone regulators - possibly a reason why it is used to treat hormonal conditions for men and women.) 
  • Caffeic Acid (anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and immunomodulatory effects) This is the superstar compound in propolis that has researchers buzzing with excitement.  CAPE is showing powerful activity in dozens of study around the world. 
  • Tetochrysin, Isalpinin, Ferulic Acid 

About Angela Van Alten

Angela was born and raised on the Dutchman's Gold Bee Farm.  As the daughter of Master Beekeeper John Van Alten, she spent time as a youth hand bottling fresh honey, sorting bee pollen and working in the farm gate retail store.  She has BBA and is a registered holistic nutritionist and now works as a senior executive at Dutchman's Gold.