Snyders Honey, La Honda, California

What is Propolis and How is It Used?

Snyders Honey Propolis

Propolis is another valuable product gathered from the beehive. The word propolis comes from the Greek word which means "to guard the city". Propolis does just that. Propolis is a sticky, gummy resin that is collected from a variety of plants, especially from the buds or bark of trees. "The bees add salivary secretions and wax to the resinous raw substance" (Apimondia: Apitherapy Today, Barac, Calcaianu, Cioca, 1976). The bees use this gum as a cement to line the walls of the hive. This acts as a sealer to seal holes or cracks in the hive and affixes comb to the roof. Sometimes small creatures that have the misfortune of entering the hive are stung to death. Propolis is sometimes required to cover a dead intruder such as a mouse or lizard which are too large for the bees to carry away from the hive.

Propolis is obtained by chipping or scraping it away from the hive. It is usually more abundant in the fall when the bees are preparing the hive for winter and it is easier to gather on warm days because it becomes softer.

The invaluable uses of propolis to humanity is its fine hygienic and antiseptic qualities. The chemical analysis of propolis has not been fully investigated. So far only seventeen chemical substances in propolis have been discovered, some of which are: cinnamic acid, chrysin, vanillin and ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is an aromatic unsaturated acid characterized by anti-bacterial effects on certain gram-positive and gram-negative micro organisms. Propolis is a great "anti-biotic" and "desensitizer". This is one reason they can mummify a rodent for several years and protect the hive from decay. Propolis is also the reason why the inside of a healthy hive is completely sterile in spite of 40,000 to 50,000 bees being crammed into close quarters in the hive. You will find propolis now in use in various consumer products such as toothepaste, mouthwash, cremes, lotions, cough drops, vitamins, and herbal medicines.

Before modern medicine, propolis was used as a remedy for slow healing sores and intestinal ailments. Hippocrates, the Father of modern medicine, recommended honey with its entrapped propolis for sores and ulcers. Unfortunately the amount of propolis in today's honey has diminished due to the modern beekeeping and refined processing methods.

Propolis stimulates the body's immune system. According to one report, "the mechanism for healing in propolis is based not only on its antibacterial propensity and detoxifying effect, but also on defensive reactions of the organism". Dr. Remy Chauvin of Paris, France, concurs, "propolis works by raising the body's natural resistance to infections through stimulating ones' own immune system" (Apimondia: Apitherapy Today, Barac,Calcaiau, 1976). "By its antibacterial and antibiotic properties, and by varied immunological and antiseptic effects, propolis has remarkable therapeutical qualities."

Propolis can be found in most health food stores. It is growing in popularity as people become aware of its benefits especially in the area of lozenges for sore throats and colds. However, as with any product in my opinion, the less refined the better. Propolis can be found in its raw form directly from the beekeeper.

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