Propolis – wonderful protection from the beehive
Propolis is a resinous natural product produced by bees to seal and protect the beehives. The name is derived from the Greek: “pro” and “pólis”, which can be translated into “before the city” or “city defence” and corresponds to the use in the beehive. All cracks and leaks on the walls are stuffed with it; thereby ensuring the desired climate and almost germ-free environment for the bee colony. Even invaders, after being killed, are embalmed with propolis, so that their decay will not contaminate the colony.
Propolis is the result of numerous natural substances which the honey bees collect during the harvest: resins of tree buds and bark, ethereal substances of flower buds and particles of pollen grain mixed with bee secretions. For this reason, the highest proportion is a natural resin-wax mixture, which makes propolis difficult to be soluble in water and only partially soluble in ethanol. Natural substances of various types and structure, give the propolis a wide range of medically relevant effects. Phenols act antiseptically and antimicrobially, flavonoids have a high antioxidative potential and a great influence on skin regeneration, various carbohydrates and trace elements, e.g. manganese, copper and zinc are important for metabolism and immune defence. The exact composition and the relationship between the components are dependent on climatic factors and surrounding flora. As a result, the origin can be determined. Fluctuations in different components influence other physical properties of the beehive: as a raw material, it can be described mostly as a sticky to hard amorphous mass, dark yellow to greenish-brownish, with an aromatic smell and a bitter-sweet taste.
Because of the fat-soluble nature of propolis, it was formerly used mainly as an alcoholic solution (tinctures) or mixed in ointments. Nowadays, we have a wide variety of different medicines or personal care products: tinctures, alcohol-free oily solutions, lozenges, oral medications, creams, ointments and body lotions.
Used externally, propolis promotes the healing of wounds and prevents germs from developing. It also has an antiseptic effect on the lips as well as the mouth and throat. This is why it can be used for mouth ulcers, herpes, sore throat and swallowing problems, or preventively, to support oral hygiene. Since propolis internally strengthens the immune system and increases resistance, it is an ideal remedy for light or a reasonable remedy for stronger colds.
In the case of urinary tract infections or inflammations, propolis can be used preventively by its antimicrobial effect or it can also accelerate the recovery by its anti-inflammatory properties.
Propolis should not be unknown to homoeopathic fans: pure or as a mixture, application areas are identical with conventional medicinal preparations.
Propolis has a certain allergic risk due to its components, which are derived from pollen grains. Therefore it is advisable, if you have not had any contact with propolis products, to start the therapy with propolis carefully. Products for internal use, only in smaller doses, and ointments for external use, only in small amounts on healthy skin. Bee products can also be affected by the application of various chemical protective agents in agriculture. That is why it is important that the raw materials are reliable and the manufacturers are certified.
Please discuss the possible fields of application or forms with us in the pharmacy, we will gladly help you with all the relevant information and indications. Then you will be in the know and can equip yourself for an emergency: a glass of honey and also a bottle of propolis belongs in every household.
Dr. Nebojša Jocković, pharmacist