The Benefits of Propolis (Why I eat bee glue!)

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The benefits of eating bee glue (propolis) every day
Yep, along with my daily dose of my ancient cold-preventer and my healthy dirt bugs, I take a helping of bee glue, a.k.a propolis.

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.

honeycombDue 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.

AcneUsed 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

The benefits of propolis and how to take itParasites – 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?












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Comments

    • says

      Well, I don’t want to be known for the person who thinks veggies are bad… after all, people are mad enough at me for telling them that almond flour is bad :) I think I mentioned in the post that veggies weren’t a great option for me at that time, because my digestive tract was so sensitive. And sure, I can do another “what I eat” post.

    • Emi says

      For pregnant women, the most helpful beehive product is royal jelly. That’s what separates the queen bee (the only female out of tens of thousands who is not only fertile but has the only mature reproductive system) from all the worker bees who are also female. She was the only one who ate more royal jelly from birth and continues to eat it throughout life (and she lives about two years, compared to worker bees who live only six weeks.)

      For human consumption, though, because the bees don’t store any royal jelly (they feed it straight to the queen as soon as it’s produced), any time you see a jar of frozen royal jelly, it’s probably no good. The best is freeze-dried royal jelly (powdered, usually in capsules). Coincidentally, it’s most effective when taken together with pollen and propolis.

      If you’ve already given birth, royal jelly may still be useful to balance out and replenish hormones, especially if you’re breastfeeding or you’ve had any complications at birth, or both. But Lauren is right, don’t go overboard on the RJ (whether pregnant or not) just because there have been good endorsements.

  1. Sarah says

    So interesting! Can’t wait to try it! Do you think it is safe for older kids (ages 8 & 11)? I am relatively new to your site…stumbled upon it back in October and since then have been on a crusade to learn all I can about making my home and personal care chemical free. Thank you so much for all the information you share!!!

    • says

      I would think it is totally safe for kids, many people use it as a remedy for children’s coughs. I would suggest giving them half of the dose explained here.

  2. Christine says

    Very interesting post! I’ve not seen anyone in the Paleo world talk about this, so I appreciate your raising the topic. How does Bee Glue compare to Bee Pollen? I’ve been including BP in my smoothie each morning – 1 tsp packs a whopping 22 g of protein, helps with immunity/allergies & energy.

    • says

      Bee pollen is wonderful but it does have different properties. Both support the immune system, but the propolis unique anti-microbial properties (working on the immune system in a different way, I believe) and lacks the amino acids of pollen.

    • nancy says

      Where can I find bee pollen with 22 grams of protein in one teaspoon?! My Amazon search rendered bee pollen granules with just 1 gram protein per teaspoon

      • Stephanie says

        I don’t know about the 22 grams of protein but the best bee pollen I have found is at vivapura.com. It is pricey but totally worth it. Also, watch for their sales, when you hit it at the right time you can get a great price on this stuff.

        Hope this helps ;)

  3. Ana says

    Great post. But, as it seems to have very strong anti-microbial properties, are you sure it is not going to kill the good bacteria? How can it distinguish between good and bad bacteria? It is a general concern I have about all kind of natural antibiotics, ie oregano oil, garlic, colloidal silver, etc.

    • says

      Yes, that is an interesting point. Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic that I will use when I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or virus, but I wouldn’t use it long-term for that exact reason. But, on the other hand, raw honey has very strong anti-microbial properties and I consume it daily without any concern. For this reason, I feel comfortable eating propolis, although perhaps not indefinitely, for a long-term period. Of course, I also consume probiotics supplements and fermented foods to keep a flow of good bugs into my body (because the good bugs must be replenished on a daily basis).

  4. says

    Lauren-
    This is really interesting. Do you think it would help with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and/or with leaky gut? If the bees coat the interior of a tree, maybe it would coat the interior of my gut?!!

  5. Viola says

    I’ve been taking propolis for years for colds and flus. It’s the only thing that works for me aside from elderberry. I take a dropperful of tincture directly in my mouth (past the teeth) as soon as I have any symptoms.

  6. randy h says

    One of my chickens came down with a viral infection and she had bloody diaria and fatigue. she was also loosing her feathers in late spring. I put her on bee propolis and a higher protien diet and the bloody diaria went away her feathers grew back and she gained her strength back.

    It also works great for my dental pain in my mouth.

    As far Annas blog rather it wipes out other cultures I would think not. Usually things that are common to nature work with nature with the exception of diotamacious earth. Some people take that and it destroys both good and bad bacteria.

  7. nami says

    why are you taking propolis on and off every month? btw, really enjoying the wealth of information on this site! thank you for sharing!

  8. Stephanie says

    I really enjoy your blog, and the time you put into all the info you research, saving me time and confusion on what I can and cannot consume since I suffer from 3 different auto-immune diseases.

    Anyhoo, I have been taking bee pollen for about a year and half and this is stuff is fantastic! But my question is I bought some super enriched honey, which has bee pollen, bee propolis and royal jelly in it, can I take this instead of the bee propolis you talked about in your post? Also, if I can take this instead, should I stop taking the bee pollen? Any suggestions will help.

    Also, do you have any other blogs you can recommend or ones that you follow? I am trying to get as much as info as I can since my main auto-immune disease is endometriosis and it has really wrecked my world. I have had to quit working because the pain is so bad. I did get your book “Quit PMS”, so I am reading that and working on how to work that into my daily routine.

    Now, that I have taken up your time, thank you, again!
    Stephanie

  9. Nathalie says

    I have recently discovered your blog in my desire to “go natural” and I love it! Thanks for sharing. I’ve tried your honey mask and seen improvements with my skin/acne. Could I mix the bee pollen into the honey or do you think I should apply it topically by itsefl? Thanks!!

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