Bees aren’t all about honey, you know.
Who would’ve thought a creature so small and annoying could be so good at multi-tasking? Yep, the humble honey bee is one talented fellow. We all know he makes honey and Royal Jelly, but his homeopathic skills don’t stop there.
Introducing propolis, another bee-produced extract that’s rich in vitamins and offers many health benefits that support all-round good health. Never heard of it? Read on to find out more about propolis, nature’s defence.
What is propolis?
Put simply, propolis (sometimes called melia propolis) is a sticky substance made up of sap from trees and beeswax, and is used to seal the gaps and strengthen the walls of a beehive, protecting every bee who calls it home from the elements outside. Bees also use propolis as a disinfectant within the hive. If, for example, a rat unintentionally makes its way into the hive then can’t get out again and dies, the bee colony will wrap the invader up in propolis to effectively embalm it, thus preventing the rotting carcass from contaminating the bees’ home.
Bees aren’t the only creatures on this earth who use propolis, though. This natural bee pollen product has been found to be rich in amino acids, vitamins and natural additives including caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE). The combination of these agents can result in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral medicinal benefits, which is great for people who like to harness the power of nature to treat their ailments.
Health benefits of using propolis extract
Propolis has long been recognised as boasting many health benefits as far back as 300 BC. Greeks used propolis to treat abscesses; Assyrians used it to heal wounds; and Egyptians used it to prepare their dead for mummification.
Many centuries later, propolis extract is still widely used as a natural healing agent, most commonly to boost immunity and treat colds, viruses and sore throats. Propolis is also often used in oral and dental preparations, and may have a role in reducing tooth decay, oral ulcers and gum disease. Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option for treating open wounds, and the high concentration of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is thought to support liver health.
There is also a lot of research currently being carried out about the benefits of propolis extract on the treatment of cancer, diabetes and HIV.
How to take propolis
The easiest way to introduce propolis extract into your diet and enjoy overall benefits like immunity stimulation and well-rounded health is to ingest propolis food supplements. However, propolis ointment or propolis cream can also be applied in topical form directly to surface wounds and infections like cold sores and genital herpes. Its naturally-numbing properties can be helpful when swallowed in liquid form to sooth sore throats and oral infections too.
Propolis products including propolis honey, propolis ointment and propolis cream can be found at online stores like Happy Valley and in most health stores.
Why New Zealand propolis could be the best in the world
Propolis, or melia propolis, that’s produced in one part of the world is completely different to that which is produced in another, simply because of the different vegetation and subsequently bee pollen that’s found all over the globe. We don’t want to be biased, but New Zealand’s unique blend could be the best in the world. Why? Because New Zealand is so far away from the rest of the world, the plants that grow here have not been affected by disease or cross-pollination to the same extent that those in continental nations have. Therefore, bee pollen and sap collected from our vegetation is likely to be purer than that collected in other countries.
New Zealand propolis contains a higher concentration of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) which occurs naturally in many plants and supports a strong immune system. Many complex dihydroflavonoid compounds are also found in propolis including pinocembrin and pinobanksin. New Zealand propolis typically contains a massive 70% of these flavonoids in total flavonoid content, compared to propolis sourced in places like South America or China which contain just 10%.
New Zealand bees are also famous for producing the best Manuka honey in the world that’s filled with medicinal anti-bacterial benefits. If the bees are collecting bee pollen from Manuka trees, propolis produced by the same bees may also contain similar properties.
If you are allergic to bees or products made from bee pollen, propolis extract may cause an allergic reaction so it’s wise to talk to a professional before adding it to your diet.