January 2012 - Herbs for Healing Newsletter in association with Transition Tradition:
Propolis and its medicinal benefits
Propolis – a very special bee product
Many beekeepers find propolis a nuisance. However healthwise, it is worth its weight in gold.
Bees use the sticky substance just as humans would use poly filler to fill in gaps in the hive and to fix the honey combs onto the frame. It makes the beekeeper’s work more difficult, but protects the bees from rain, wind and cold temperatures. Bees also use propolis to protect themselves from invading creatures.
Before the queen bee lays her eggs, her nest will be free from micro-organisms because worker bees will line it with propolis, an example of preventative hygiene.
Like honey and pollen, propolis is safe for humans of any age to ingest. It is a very powerful anti-microbial substance. It has been used for over 2000 years by many cultures to successfully heal acute and festering wounds and burns.
Taken internally it acts as an immune boosting remedy and also like an antibiotic. It inhibits many bacteria from multiplying and also sometimes destroys them actively. However propolis does not destroy the gut bacteria like many pharmaceutical antibiotics do.
What is propolis good for?
It helps to heal infections in the respiratory tract like sinusitis and bronchitis, infections in the urinary tract like cystitis, and also fungal infections like athlete’s foot. In Germany propolis is licensed for treating any condition in mouth and throat, e.g. tonsillitis, sore throat, gingivitis and bleeding gums.
Wherever there are honey bees, there will be propolis. No one batch of propolis is identical to another batch because individual bees collect the resin from a variety of plants. Its core substance however is very similar. Bacteria can develop resistance to many pharmaceutical antibiotics and do so increasingly, which can cause severe problems like MRSA infections.
Bacteria are unable to develop resistance to propolis because it is a very complex substance containing hundreds of chemical compounds which constantly vary in their natural composition. This is the strength of propolis as a powerful natural antibiotic.
Propolis and viral infections
What about viral infections? Research is showing that propolis prevents the DNA replication of many influenza and herpes viruses. People who take propolis regularly are thus better protected from many kinds of viral infections. On the immune level, propolis strengthens the immune system which is fighting the virus more effectively. Propolis salve can be applied to cold sores or to genital herpes infections to speed up the healing process. Propolis tincture taken internally can prevent a viral infection. To prevent is always better than to cure.
Powdered propolis in raw honey is a highly effective, safe and well-researched natural remedy for healing cuts and abrasions, bed sores and leg ulcers, also burns and infected wounds. It has similar properties to manuka honey.
A bee colony produces between 50g to 150g of raw propolis a year. This is a small and very precious amount. Taking away honey, pollen and propolis from a bee hive must be done with respect and grateful thanks. We are aware that bee colonies are in decline due to many factors, for example due to the use of pesticides and due to monoculture to name but a few.
Conventional ways of beekeeping can be detrimental to bees just like conventional agriculture can be detrimental to nature. There are different ways of beekeeping, which are based on seeking to understand the nature of bees and their way of living.