Propolis, sometimes called bee glue, is an important material for honeybee hives.
It’s a complex mixture of plant sap, beeswax, and honeybees’ natural enzymes — and it plays an important role in helping keep beehives in one piece. It also seems to help keep beehives pest-free by preventing fungus and microbes from growing.
There’s more to propolis than its use as a bee-based building material, though. Studies are beginning to show that propolis may have some significant health benefits, both as an oral supplement and as a topical treatment. As a result, you can find propolis in various forms at many health food stores.
The micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals in propolis provide some excellent health benefits. Propolis is an excellent source of certain polyphenols that are called flavonoids. These flavonoids function as antioxidants.
Flavonoids and polyphenols may lower your risk of developing certain medical conditions, such as heart disease.
In addition, propolis may other provide health benefits:
Decreased Risk of Cancer
The potent antioxidant mix of propolis appears to be particularly effective at reducing the risk of cancer. While more studies need to be done on the subject, current research suggests that propolis may help reduce cancer proliferation and moderate the immune system’s response to cancer cells.
One of the most-studied effects of propolis is its antimicrobial activity. As a result, propolis is often sold as a topical solution to help keep wounds clean. However, it can also help solve internal problems as a supplement.
For example, gastritis and peptic ulcers are often caused by the overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori. Studies suggest that consuming propolis, with or without honey, can help reduce the symptoms of gastritis and peptic ulcers significantly. Propolis may even encourage healing.
Propolis may help ease symptoms of several chronic conditions by reducing inflammation. You can experience chronic inflammation alongside many potential health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.
Some studies suggest that propolis has anti-inflammatory properties, which could help lower your risk of developing negative health effects.
Controlled Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes is a serious condition that affects your body’s ability to properly maintain your blood sugar levels. Some studies suggest that propolis may help with this.
Trials show that propolis supplements may significantly reduce fasting blood glucose levels, which are a significant indicator of uncontrolled diabetes. While more research needs to be done on this subject, early results are promising.
Propolis is rich in B-complex vitamins, which are considered essential micronutrients.
B-complex vitamins are critical to keeping your body functioning well. A deficiency in vitamin B6, for example, can lead to anemia — causing symptoms like confusion and depression. Adding propolis to your diet can help you reduce your risk of a B-complex deficiency and associated anemia.
Amounts and Dosage
The bee product does not appear to carry any significant health risks.
The FDA does not have a recommended daily minimum or maximum intake for propolis. Propolis supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so the dosage can vary from brand to brand and even from batch to batch. Regardless of the precise dosage, you are still getting a healthy amount of polyphenols from these supplements.
It’s not necessary to consume propolis supplements to get more propolis in your diet. By adding more honey to your daily diet, you are almost certainly consuming propolis in small amounts. Raw honey and honeycomb are more likely to include propolis than filtered honey because propolis functions as a way of sealing the comb from attack.