The art of beekeeping is increasingly becoming popular, and more bee products are being discovered. Most of these products are helpful because we can’t afford to live without them. Propolis, among the bees’ products, also has many purposes you may never know about.
Some of the uses for propolis include treating minor burns, cold sores, and genetically herpes. It’s also used to manage diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and cavities. Besides that, it’s used to maintain musical instruments. However, propolis can cause allergic reactions and low blood pressure.
This discussion will cover how to use raw propolis alongside other basics about propolis that you may have never heard about. Keep reading to discover more!
What is Bee Propolis?
Also known as bee glue, propolis is a substance resembling resin that bees use to fill cracks in their hives. The propolis’ color can vary depending on its composition and source. However, it has a dark brown appearance and will harden as temperatures decline.
Worker bees use propolis for various purposes, including filling in cracks and small gaps in the hive, reducing the hive opening, and lining nest cavities to strengthen their defense. In addition, it is helpful to bees as it provides insulation and stability to the hive.
Propolis is also an antibacterial that prevents the growth of fungus and bacteria in the hive. In addition, it plays a crucial role in disinfecting and sterilizing the hive.
It also plays an essential role in preventing contamination: in an event where bees and intruders such as mice and lizards die in the hive, their bodies can’t be removed. Bees use propolis to wrap the carcass to prevent depravity and decay, preventing possible contamination.
From these uses, you can make money as a beekeeper while selling propolis and other bee products.
How is Propolis Made?
Bees’ primary materials to make propolis are trees sap and resins. Typically, worker bees gather these materials when pasturing. After arriving in the hive, other bees aid in unloading the resins. Later, the resin is mixed with stomach enzymes, wax, and honey to form propolis.
Bees tend to preserve some reserve of propolis that they can later use for unexpected patches and other tasks. Having a bee hive base for your hives helps in ensuring the bees have clean propolis. In effect, this helps in harvesting clean, high-quality propolis.
Forms of Propolis
There are two forms of propolis: raw and processed propolis.
- Raw propolis is an unaltered resin-like substance you will likely find on beehive surfaces. It comes in its original state after the extraction process.
- On the other hand, processed propolis is raw propolis that has undergone a chemical extraction process. During the process, solvents such as ethanol and aqueous water are used.
Raw propolis will harden at low temperatures with a dark-brown appearance. Processed propolis will come in a liquid or powder form, depending on the extraction method. Also, it will contain a high potency and raw propolis that is dissolved in a base liquid.
Keep in mind that only honey bees make propolis. While other animals, such the yellow striped insects, may make some form of honey or wax, only bees are know to make propolis.
How to Use Raw Propolis
After a few clinical trials, raw propolis has been proven to bring some health benefits. Here are some significant findings from various studies:
|Treating minor burns||Can be unsafe when taken|
|Treating cold sores||Allergic reactions|
|Treating genital herpes||May lower blood circulation|
|Managing gastrointestinal disorders||May increase bleeding rate|
|Maintaining musical instruments|
1. Treating Minor Burns
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine proves that propolis heals minor burns. The study compared propolis with a typical skin cream used for healing burns. Both were exposed to different levels of burns to identify their effectiveness.
The study revealed that the skin cream, silver sulfadiazine, and propolis had the same effectiveness. In addition, it was found to offer higher anti-inflammation benefits to the skin cream.
Therefore, you can use raw propolis for treating burns and its anti-inflammatory benefits as an alternative to available medicine.
2. Treating Cold Sores
According to a study revealed by Phytotherapy Research 2010, propolis can help heal cold sores. During the study, scientists discovered that raw propolis has virus-fighting agents that beat the cold-sores-causing-virus called herpes simplex virus type 1.
Therefore, you can domestically use propolis for cold sore treatment at your convenience.
3. Treating Genital Herpes
A study published in Phytomedicine proves that applying a propolis-based ointment treats genital herpes sores. During the research, 90 men and women were exposed to a 10-day test where some would be applied a propolis ointment containing flavonoids and an ointment containing acyclovir (a drug used for reducing pain and speeding the healing of herpes-related sores)
At the end of the study, 80% of participants who applied the propolis ointment healed, while the acyclovir group healed by 47%. These findings attest that ointments sourced from propolis can be more effective than acyclovir ointments in healing genital herpes sores. Thus, you should prefer using the propolis naturally-made ointment for sores’ increased healing.
4. Managing Gastrointestinal Disorders
Research suggests that propolis helps manage gastrointestinal disorders, including ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and gastrointestinal cancers.
Propolis contains components such as antipilling C, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), galangin, and kaempferol that are proven to eliminate pathogens quickly. This includes H. pylori, a common pathogen associated with gastrointestinal disorders.
5. Managing Diabetes
In 2005, Pharmacological Research published a study about propolis’s contribution to diabetes management. Typically, the test was conducted on diabetic rats with high blood sugar and cholesterol.
The propolis treatment revealed a decline in high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, the test has to be conducted on humans for conclusions to be drawn.
6. Controlling Cavities
The Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin study shows that propolis can help fight cavities. During the lab test, propolis was found to inhibit the growth of an oral bacteria that contributes to the development of cavities (Streptococcus mutans).
In addition to that, the study revealed that propolis could help prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth.
7. Non-Health Uses: Musical Instruments
Propolis is extensively used as a varnish ingredient on string instruments such as cello, bass, viola, and violin by makers. Also, propolis tincture can be used to maintain pan flute tube bores.
Propolis Side Effects
Propolis MAY BE safe when taken through the mouth and applied to the skin. Do not use propolis if you have records of reactions to bee by-products (honey included), salicylates, Peru balsam, conifers, and if you are asthmatic.
Using propolis may lower blood circulation and increase the bleeding rate during surgery or in individuals with bleeding disorders.
How to harvest propolis
Propolis is harvested in one of the following ways:
1. Propolis trap
A propolis trap is placed in the hive where the inner cover would normally be. Since the trap is made of narrow slits of plastic, the bees will fill it with propolis in an attempt to seal it off. You simply remove the trap and scrap off the propolis for use. This method yields clean propolis.
2. Hive scraping
As the name suggests, you simply scrap off the propolis from parts of the hive with this method. The only downside is that it yields propolis mixed with impurities such as wood. Luckily, you can simply put it in warm water and the impurities will float up as the propolis sinks to the bottom.
Propolis Preparations and Dosage
Propolis exists in many forms, including capsules, tablets, lozenges, and powder extract. Globally, you can find it in ointments, lotions, creams, and other personal-care items.
Studies are yet to discover a recommendation for daily intake of propolis and the amount of propolis to enhance health conditions.
Does Propolis Resemble Beeswax?
Honey bees make propolis from saliva, beeswax, and plant materials collected. Propolis is used as a sealing agent or glue to fill small holes in the hive. On the other hand, beeswax is used for filling larger holes. While beeswax is used to make propolis, they are different.
Can I Find Propolis In Honey?
You may likely find small amounts of propolis in honey. However, heat during honey purification alters propolis’ healing quality. Therefore, stick to unpasteurized and unfiltered honey (raw honey).
Does Propolis Expire?
Propolis has a long shelf-life of up to 5 years. Storing it for more than five years makes it less effective and beneficial. You only need to store it under favorable conditions for enhanced effectiveness.
Raw propolis comes with more incredible health benefits than you ever imagined. These may include treating genital herpes, controlling cavities, managing diabetes, minor burns, gastrointestinal disorders, and cancer. Ensuring an increased production and harvesting of propolis will significantly contribute to global health.
Also, practicing beekeeping to harvest this helpful product can earn you a living. You should consider becoming a large-scale beekeeper for the incredible benefits of harvesting propolis.