What is propolis?
Along with the other fruits of their labor, including honey and royal jelly, bees create propolis from the resin of trees. After gathering the resin, bees transform it into a very sticky and antimicrobial mixture that they use to patch up their hive.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, it also disinfects the hive and prevents outbreaks of viruses and bacteria. Bees even use propolis to immobilize intruders (source). So basically, propolis is bee duct tape!
Bees living in hollow trees will coat the inside of the cavity thickly with propolis. After an experiment, researchers at The University of Minnesota found that bees housed in a nest box coated with propolis had lower bacterial loads in their body and also ‘quieter’ immune systems compared to the colonies with no propolis coating.
So, although bees never eat propolis, this unique substance plays a key role in their immune system. Through the same properties, propolis can boost our immune system and overall wellness.
Why I take propolis
General immune system support – Propolis supports the immune system in various ways. First, the antimicrobial properties suppress harmful bacteria and infections. Further, it actually stimulates the immune system and raises the body’s natural resistance (source).
I diligently take my dose of propolis during cold and flu season. I can’t, however, credit any one part of my diet or supplement regime for keeping me healthy (not a single cold this year! *knocks on wood*). I do take a double dose of propolis if I wake up and feel something coming on, and I will feel better the next day.
Acne – Used internally and externally, propolis may improve skin and reduce breakouts. One study (discussed here) showed that propolis showed activity against the bacteria primarily responsible for breakouts. I suggest taking propolis internally (I explain how to take it at the end of this post).
To use propolis externally, dab propolis honey directly on the pimple (do a test first to see if your skin reacts) and leave it on for 5 – 15 minutes. I also use the propolis honey as a mask, applying a thin layer over my entire face and rinsing it off after 15 minutes.
Improved energy – I can testify to this point! Many individuals report “Improved energy” by taking propolis daily. Although this is a subjective statement and I am not aware of any clinical research backing it up, I’ve found this true in my own experience.
After I started taking propolis daily, I experienced a higher sense of productivity – a general “get ‘er done!” attitude. It wasn’t anything like a caffeine buzz, but just a very gentle little boost of energy throughout the day. With that said, I am very sensitive to all foods and supplements so my experience will not necessarily be your experience.
Other health benefits of propolis
Parasites – Research shows the potential use of propolis for parasite treatment. One preliminary trial showed that those who took propolis experienced a 52 to 60 percent rate of successful elimination of the parasite giardiasis (source).
Since parasites are difficult to diagnose (symptoms frequently look like other health problems), parasites pose a challenging and unexpectedly widespread health issue. Propolis, due to its soothing and immune-supporting factors, can be generally to support health even if you aren’t sure of a parasite infection. Additionally, it can usually be combined with other parasite treatments.
Canker sores – Many people experience quick relief from canker sores by applying a drop of propolis tincture directly to the sore 2-3 times per day.
Endometriosis – a quickly growing number of women struggle with endometriosis, a disorder where the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of the uterus into other organs of the body. It causes pain, fatigue, bowel issues, infertility and more. In one study, women with endometriosis took propolis to increase fertility. Those taking propolis had a pregnancy success rate of 60% compared to 20% taking the placebo (source).
Cavities – In an animal study, propolis cut cavity rates by up to 60% and partially impairs the enzyme that causes dental plaque. All-natural propolis toothpaste (it contains “purified water, baking soda, xanthan gum, propolis extract, grapefruit oil, clove oil, tea tree oil”) provides the powerful cavity-fighting compounds directly to the teeth. You can also dab propolis tincture directly on the cavities a few times per day. For a full protocol to reverse tooth decay and cavities, I recommend the book Cure Tooth Decay.
How to take propolis
There are a few options for taking propolis:
- I take this organic propolis and raw honey blend. A general dose suggestion is 1/2 teaspoon twice per day (I take it morning and afternoon). I eat it straight from the jar – just scoop out a serving and swallow it. It tastes sweet – a bit like molasses – and delicious! It can also be applied topically for acne.
- You can also take propolis tincture. Mix 5 drops into a little bit of honey and swallow. Take 3 times per day. I find this method more time consuming and messy.
- Finally, there are propolis capsules, an easy and mess-free method but you can’t use it topically. Take 1-2 capsules twice per day.
Would you eat bee glue? Have you had success with using propolis for any health issue?