Propolis: Benefits, Uses, and Possible Side Effects
Propolis is a waxy or resinous mixture made by honeybees. Propolis has a variety of colours like white, red, brown and black. People also call it bee glue because bees use it to build their hives. Bees also use propolis to defend against parasites. It mixes the bees’ saliva with beeswax and tree exudates. The composition, colour, and properties of propolis vary from region to region, depending on the type of plants, flowers, and trees used to make propolis. However, what is common in all propolis forms is its health benefits.
People in Greece, Egypt, Assyria, use propolis as traditional medicine for many purposes. For example, it heals wounds, stomach ailments, and sore throats. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties, with potential pharmacological uses. Additionally, propolis may ease COVID-19 symptoms and help heal the lungs. Propolis also shows anti-microbial properties against bacteria, fungi, and protozoans. You can take propolis as a supplement, mouthwash, or topical ointment on the skin.
Composition of Propolis
Propolis is a natural resin. 100g of propolis contains:
- Resin: 50g
- Wax: 30g
- Essential oils: 10g
- Organic compounds: 10g
The organic compounds in propolis include amino acids, sugars, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and bioactive compounds. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E. In addition, it contains bioactive compounds like flavonoids, polyphenols, and organic acids. The minerals present include magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese and iron.
Health Benefits of Propolis
1. Propolis Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Regulated blood sugar levels are essential to maintain a healthy body. However, health conditions like diabetes prevent blood sugar control. In addition, oxidative stress caused by free-radical damage worsens these conditions.
Propolis consumption helps regulate blood sugar levels and helps reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress on many organs. That is because propolis contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C. These antioxidants eliminate free radicals from the body and significantly reduce the oxidative stress caused by them. It, in turn, protects the organs from damage. In addition, it can also prevent many chronic disorders like diabetes.
A study demonstrated the positive effect of propolis consumption on diabetes. It shows that consuming propolis for 90 days decreased blood sugar levels and increased insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone produced by our body to bring down blood glucose levels. Unfortunately, many people who have diabetes cannot regulate insulin production. Therefore, the consumption of propolis daily can prove beneficial for them.
Propolis reduces the absorption of glucose and other carbohydrates in the intestines. As a result, it prevents any glucose spikes in the blood. Thus, it can be beneficial for people with diabetes and hyperglycemia. Additionally, propolis increases glucose uptake from the blood to the organs. It simultaneously reduces blood glucose levels and provides the organs with nutrition and energy.
2. Improves Lung and Kidney Health
Propolis helps improve the functioning and health of the lungs. As mentioned before, propolis is a rich source of antioxidants. They prevent oxidative stress in many organs like the lungs. It also prevents cellular damage and inflammation in the lungs. Propolis also decreases the number of inflammatory cells in the lungs’ alveoli. One study demonstrated propolis’ positive effect against cigarette smoke and any lung diseases caused by it.
Propolis has a similar mechanism towards the kidneys. It helps prevent oxidative stress and inflammation in the kidney. A study suggests that it helps prevent chronic kidney diseases. In addition, the flavonoid chrysin in propolis helps reduce renal injuries in the kidney and protects the structures of the kidney from harm.
Propolis also helps protect podocytes, the kidney cells, from cell death. Sometimes, when glucose is too high in the blood, the kidney cells cannot filter it. Instead, they get harmed and may die due to it.
3. Helps Improve Heart Health
According to the University of Plymouth research, propolis helps reduce blood pressure. That is because propolis can increase the population of healthy microbes in our mouths. These microbes help convert nitrates from our food into nitrite. Nitrite is a compound that can widen our blood vessels, giving more space for the blood to flow, thus lowering blood pressure. Therefore, propolis is helpful for people suffering from hypertension for high blood pressure.
Propolis also helps lower cholesterol levels in the body. Lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol can lead to a healthier heart. In addition, it can prevent chronic heart disease like atherosclerosis, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, etc.
4. Propolis Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Propolis contains many antioxidants, which help reduce oxidative stress to the organs like kidneys, liver, and skin. Antioxidants can also limit the amount of unhealthy cholesterol like LDL cholesterol present in the body.
A study proves that propolis extracts can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels. They can prevent the accumulation of cholesterol and plaque formation in the arteries. As a result, it helps prevent many heart-related diseases like atherosclerosis, hypertension and even heart attacks. Therefore, propolis can be considered a cardiovascular protector. Its regular consumption helps protect the body from many types of serious diseases.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Propolis shows anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Prolonged inflammation can cause many chronic diseases. For example, inflammation can cause diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. This property also helps in wound healing. Therefore, by taking propolis, you can reduce inflammation in the body.
The flavonoids in propolis can regulate the enzymes needed to cause inflammation. They reduce the production of these enzymes and factors, thus reducing inflammation. Another way propolis stops the production of nitric oxide and cytokinin from macrophages, a type of immune cell. Macrophages cause inflammation in the body. Therefore, by reducing the effectiveness of macrophages, propolis reduces inflammation in the body.
There are commercial propolis nasal sprays available. These sprays reduce the inflammation in the sinuses. In addition, they can relieve some of the symptoms of a common cold or infection.
6. Wound Healing Properties
Propolis helps in wound healing. The antioxidants like polyphenols present in propolis help reduce the damage caused by free radicals. As a result, it prevents cellular damage in many organs and tissues. This property can also promote and speed up wound healing. For example, many cold sore ointments containing 3% propolis heal the sores and prevent future painful breakouts.
A study suggests the use of propolis for healing burns. Propolis contains many bioactive compounds which help in cell proliferation. In other words, it increases cell growth and tissue formation. It can speed up wound healing.
Another way propolis can speed up wound healing is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is an immune response to injuries and infections. However, it can also slow down recovery and agitate wounds. By reducing inflammation, the body can heal wounds better.
Furthermore, the anti-microbial properties of propolis promote wound healing as well. Microbes like bacteria and fungi cause most infections. Therefore, reducing their population on the wounds can help speed up their recovery.
7. Anti-Microbial Properties
Propolis is known for its anti-microbial properties. It includes antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiprotozoal properties. One study demonstrated the effectiveness of propolis against bacteria like Streptococci species, Staphylococci species, E. coli, and Heliobacter pylori. These bacteria cause various diseases, from skin infections to gut-related infections. Specifically, Heliobacter pylori can cause stomach infections and stomach ulcers.
The antibacterial properties of propolis are due to bioactive compounds like flavonoids. For example, a flavonoid called pinocembrin may stop the formation of genetic material in the bacteria and interfere with their energy. As a result, it can stop their growth and reproduction.
Furthermore, they also show antiviral effects against the Herpes virus, HIV, influenza virus, and COVID-19 virus. Flavonoids like chrysin reduce the proliferation or production of viruses in the body.
8. Effectiveness against COVID-19
Recently, to find a solution for COVID-19 disease, propolis was used. COVID-19 is a SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes infection in the respiratory tract and lungs. COVID-19 infection has changed the fabric of our world and has proved to be fatal. When conventional medications proved to be infective for some patients, some countries turned to traditional medicines like propolis, effective against many ailments.
Phytochemicals present in propolis stop the working and spread of coronavirus in the body. Propolis can interfere with the spread of coronavirus. Furthermore, patients suffering from COVID-19 synthesise PKA-1, a compound that promotes inflammation in the body. The bioactive compounds in propolis can block PKA-1 formation and prevent inflammation in these patients.
Research suggests how after 19 patients suffering from COVID-19 were given propolis, they showed lesser symptoms and recovered earlier. The detailed mechanism of how propolis works against COVID-19 is still unclear. However, it shows potential against COVID-19 infection.
Potential Side Effects of Propolis
Propolis may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to bee products. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of your allergens. Excessive consumption of propolis may also irritate the mouth and create mouth ulcers. Additionally, certain chemical compounds in propolis may slow down blood clotting. Therefore, people who have just undergone surgery or have bleeding conditions should refrain from using it. Also, it would help if you talked to a physician before taking propolis.
Best Ways to Use Propolis
The recommended daily intake amount of propolis is 400 to 500 mg. You may take propolis by mouth after diluting it with water or as an oral supplement. Also, propolis is in many creams, ointments, mouthwashes, and cosmetics.
Propolis is a natural resin made by bees. Propolis is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioactive compounds. In addition, propolis shows anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body. As a result, it can lead to better heart, lungs, kidney health. Also, it may lower our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can prevent many chronic diseases. Recently, propolis has shown potential against the COVID-19 infection. However, more research is vital to determine its mechanism and effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 1. Does propolis have carbs?
A: No, propolis doesn’t contain carbohydrates. It is a natural resin that contains wax, essential oils, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds.
2. What foods have propolis?
A: Propolis is a glue that bees make for their hives. You cannot find it anywhere else naturally. Propolis tablets and powders are available as a supplement.
3. What is propolis good for?
A: Propolis is suitable for several things. Including alleviating COVID-19 symptoms, improving kidney and lung health, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. These are due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of propolis.
4. Can propolis cure Covid?
A: There isn’t any evidence that suggests propolis may cure COVID-19. However, it may be used as a natural supplement to relieve some symptoms. The phytochemicals and flavonoids present in propolis may reduce the inflammation in the lungs and have antiviral effects.
5. Is propolis good for high blood pressure?
A: Yes, propolis may lower blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure. Propolis helps increase the levels of nitrite in the body. Nitrite can widen our blood vessels, which helps in lowering blood pressure.
6. Is propolis good for kidneys?
A: Yes, propolis is good for kidney health. The antioxidants present in propolis may reduce oxidative stress on the kidneys. Also, it can reduce inflammation in kidney cells. All of this leads to better kidney functioning and health.
7. Does propolis lower blood sugar?
A: Yes, some evidence suggests that propolis reduces blood sugar in patients with hypertension or diabetes. The bioactive compounds in propolis may reduce sugar absorption by the intestines. Also, it can increase insulin production in the body, which naturally lowers blood sugar levels.
8. Is propolis good for the stomach?
A: Yes, propolis are good for stomach health. Propolis have flavonoid, which shows antibacterial properties. They can reduce the population of bacteria which may cause stomach infections. For example, bacteria like Heliobacter pylori can cause stomach infections and ulcers.
9. Is propolis good for sinuses?
A: Yes, propolis is good for sinuses due to its anti-inflammatory properties. They can reduce the inflammation in the sinuses, which can relieve some of the symptoms of a sinus infection or common cold. Also, since they are antibacterial, they can kill the bacteria causing disease in the first place.
10. Is propolis good for the lungs?
A: Yes, propolis is good for the lungs. They prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage to the lungs. Also, they may reduce the inflammation in the lungs caused by many infections and disorders. In addition, a study suggests that they can reduce the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs.
11. Is propolis an antibiotic?
A: Propolis may be considered a natural antibiotic. In other words, it has antibacterial properties towards bacteria like Heliobacter pylori, E. coli, Streptococcus species, Staphylococcus species, etc. These bacteria usually cause skin infections, and much more.
12. Is propolis good for sore throat?
A: Yes, propolis is suitable for a sore throat. Propolis has been traditionally used to relieve the symptoms of common cold and sore throat. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. In addition, it reduces inflammation in the throat, which can relieve pain and irritation. Also, it can help heal the sore throat.
13. Can propolis reduce cholesterol?
A: Yes, propolis may reduce the cholesterol level in the blood. It can lower the unhealthy cholesterol or LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. It is due to the many antioxidants present in it.
14. Does propolis help constipation?
A: No evidence suggests propolis may have any effect on constipation. However, traditionally it may have been used as a laxative. Further research is essential to figure out its mechanism.
15. Can you take propolis every day?
A: Yes, you can take propolis every day. The recommended daily intake amount of propolis is 400 to 500 mg.
16. What are the side effects of propolis?
A: Excessive consumption of propolis may lead to mouth ulcers. Also, people who are allergic to bee products might develop allergic symptoms after taking propolis. Therefore, it is recommended to know your allergens and consult a physician for propolis.
17. What is the best way to take propolis?
A: There are many ways to make propolis. For example, they are available as oral supplements, powders and mouthwash. They are also present in ointments and creams.
18. Can people with diabetes take bee propolis?
A: Yes, people with diabetes can take propolis. Propolis are known to regulate and lower blood sugar levels. Also, it prevents oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Therefore, it can help patients with diabetes.
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