Bee Propolis - Synergistic Health Care for the 21st Century
by James Fearnley
our hospitals as antibiotics become ineffective and severe side effects of modern
drugs are becoming common place now years after their introduction. A direct
consequence of a one dimensional strategy, it is maybe the time to acknowledge the
synergistic health benefits of natural medicine.
For well over a century modern science has progressed at a startling rate. With this
increase in knowledge has come medicinal and healthcare benefits that have seen
ages peak and diseases eradicated. These medical advances were based around the
paradigm of the "magic bullet", isolating the active ingredient and using it to alter the
chemistry of a single molecule/protein to elicit a change of state in the patient.
Success however has turned to obsession as cracks appear in the armoury of
disease fighting drugs at our disposal. MRSA is rifling through our hospitals as
antibiotics become ineffective and severe side effects of modern drugs are becoming
common place now years after their introduction. A direct consequence of a one
dimensional strategy, it is maybe the time to acknowledge the synergistic health
benefits of natural medicine.
Propolis is a unique natural medicine because of its breadth of action. It has
antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and
immunomodulatory effects, it could help treat asthma, allergies, arthritis and joint
disorders, eczema and dermatitis, ME, viral infections including HIV and even cancer.
This medicine could help treat an illness or keep you fit and healthy.
Propolis: Defender of the City
Propolis is a mainly resinous substance that bees collect from trees and plants. Being
made up of waxes, resins, fatty acids and even amino acids. Aristotle reputedly
coined the name Propolis meaning "defender of the city". This is exactly what
Propolis is for the hive, it acts as a bee population's external immune system keeping
the hive sterile and free of microbial invaders
Evidence Based Medicine
In the following paragraphs I will describe to you the pharmacological properties of
Propolis. Before I do so I must explain where this evidence comes from. All the
properties and actions of Propolis have been witnessed and detailed in scientific
studies which have subsequently been published in journals. The bulk of these
scientific studies have been performed in vitro (i.e. in a test tube) or in vivo (i.e. in a
host animal for example rats), a much smaller proportion of these studies are clinical
trials tested on humans. The abstracts of these papers can be found on the Medline
and pubmed databases on the Internet.
Propolis: A natural antibiotic
Propolis is probably best known for its antibiotic properties. Even as early as 1960
French1 research demonstrated the bacteriostatic action on Bacillus subtilis, Proteus
vulgaris and Bacillus alvei. The results have been replicated many times and Propolis
has even been shown to be effective to MRSA2, the same antibiotic resistant
bacteria that has infected up to 70% of our hospitals. A 1997 study by Calder et al.
at the University of Oxford concurred with these results and found that the
cinnaminic acids and flavanoids present in Propolis in particular show bacteriocidal
action. This action believed to be as a consequence of Propolis uncoupling the
bacterial energy respiratory chain. Interestingly this action may be involved in a
synergistic action with antibiotics when used together, boosting the effectiveness of
Anti-Viral and immuno-stimulatory
Viruses present a unique dilemma in the quest for good health, they are not affected
by antibiotics and mutate so frequently that vaccines are hard to produce. They also
cause illness by hijacking cells and using the cells machinery to replicate. Modern
drugs aim to slow or stop the virus from the replicating and subsequently because
they are attacking host cell machinery they have certain side effects. Viruses perhaps
pose the greatest threat to humans' health, we are currently in the middle of a HIV
pandemic with "39.4 million" people infected world wide. With a Flu pandemic
overdue and certainly on its way and predictions of world wide casualties and chaos,
a solution is needed.
The bioflavanoids in propolis have a unique approach to combating Viruses, instead of
trying to combat them once they have infected a cell, they lock the virus in its
protein coat. This means that the dangerous machinery and DNA/RNA of the virus is
nullified and the infection stopped.
Propolis has been shown to be more effective than the pharmaceutical anti-viral
acyclovir in treating genital Herpes in a clinical trial conducted in the Ukraine4 and
there is growing evidence that Propolis could help treat people with HIV5.
Propolis also works hard as an immunomodulator which is of interest for all of us. It
does this by altering the way cytokine production and release is managed. Cytokines
are the chemical messengers that allow immune system cells to communicate. By
altering the cytokine system, it primes the immune system to be ready to react to
antigens quickly and effectively.
As well as this, bioflavanoids within Propolis stimulate the production of interferon
which can help people recover from ME, stimulating their immune system. This
alteration of the cytokine and interferon systems means that your body is ready to
fight off infection and keep you healthy, making a case for using propolis as a
supplement for good health, like vitamins. Prevention is better than the cure.
Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergen
A survey of Propolis consumers showed that arthritis was the health problem that
Propolis was used to treat the most. This is because of the potent anti-inflammatory
properties of the propolis constituents in particular CAPE (Caffeic acid Phenyl ester),
CAPE has been shown to suppress T cell activation. A paper by Marquez et al in
20046 evaluated this to mean that since T-cells play a key role in the onset of
several inflammatory diseases, CAPE is important because the this phenolic
compound is a potent inhibitor of early and late events in T-cell receptor-mediated T-
cell activation. Results like this have led other researchers to propose that CAPE is a
worthwhile agent for reducing the severity of conditions associated with inflammation.
Many of the experiments performed on CAPE were done so in vitro, however the
anti-inflammatory properties of Propolis have been documented in rats when treating
rat adjuvant arthritis. A paper by Park et al in 19997 concluding that the ethanolic
extract of propolis had profound anti-inflammatory effects on both chronic and acute
arthritic inflammations. These anti-inflammation properties extend to other illness and
disorders such as asthma and allergies reducing both smooth muscle airway
contraction8 and allergic responses. Any disorder or illness related to inflammation
could be helped by Propolis.
Propolis and CAPE have been shown to reduce the size of tumours and to selectively
destroy and to curb the proliferation of malignant cells of many different types of
cancer. As recently as June 10th 2005 Cancer researchers have been given a grant
of a million dollars to investigate the therapeutic value of Propolis for cancer. Costas
Koumenis the lead investigator for the study was quoted as saying, "a very
interesting property of these compounds is that they have been shown to cause cell
death in tumor cells but not in normal cells." This study along with other current
studies promises to propel Propolis into the limelight in the field of cancer treatment.
Current Propolis Research in the UK
BVR (BeeVital Research) recently won a major government Research and
Development Award, part of a £250,000 research programme looking at the
chemical, biological and clinical properties of propolis.
These studies will focus on the:
1. Documenting the regional variances in chemical and biological properties, by HPLS,
GC-MS and NMR. (Taking place at Univeristy of Strathclyde)
2. Futher investigating the role of Propolis in the Hive (University of Gloucester)
3. Dental trials - looking at effectiveness of Propolis for Mouth Ulcers, Pericorinitis,
Gingivitis and Sensitive Teeth. (Manchester University Dental school)
4. HIV/AIDS trials - looking at the effectiveness of Propolis with anti-virals in Zambia
5. The effects of standardised propolis on mood, stress, fatigue and cognition at the
Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at University of Newcastle.
6. To evaluate the use of local and non - local propolis for wound healing and the
treatment of skin and other dermatological problems. ( The Regional Teaching
Hospital for University of Dar es Salaam)
How to use/find propolis products?
A large range of propolis products are available on the market ranging from tablets,
capsules, tinctures and liquids to specialist products for skin care - soap, lip balm,
creams and oral health care - toothpaste, mouthwash , lozenges and tooth and gum
Traditionally these have been available through health food stores but are increasingly
available in independent pharmacies.
Choosing the best products is not always easy. Current regulations means
manufacturers cannot make any kind of medical claim for products that have not
been licensed as medicines despite the fact that there is a sound evidence basis for
such claims. Part of the reason for this is that no single body is responsible for
ensuring that product offered for sale actually are what they say they are.
For this reason the BVR (BeeVital Research) programme is targeted at developing full
medicines licenses for some key products. In the meantime BVR have formulated a
number of products for the health food market based on their research. Consumers,
when purchasing products should look for those products produced by companies
who can back up their products by good manufacturing practice (pharmaceutical
standard manufacturing ) and research.
About The Author
James Fearnley of BeeVital Research is one of the worlds leading authorities on
Propolis He has written extensively on the subject and published a major review of all
the current research up to 2001 - Bee Propolis – Natural Healing form the Hive
Souvenir Press. BeeVital Research email@example.com
(1)Lavie, P. (1960). Annals Abeille, 3: 103-201
(2)Anti-Bacterial properties of propolis. Grange, J. M., Davey, R. W. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,
83: 160-1 (1990)
(3)Anti-microbial action of propolis and some of its components: The effect on growth membrane potential and
motility of bacteria. Mirzoeva, O. K., Grishanin, r. n., Calder, p. c. microbial - res, 152: 239-246 (1997)
(4)A comparative multi-centre study of the efficacy of propolis, acyclovir and placebo in the treatment of
genital herpes (HSV). Vynograd, N.; Vynograd, I.; Sosnowski, Z. Institute of Epidemiology, Lvov State Medical
University, Lvov, Ukraine. Phytomedicine (2000), 7(1), 1-6. CODEN: PYTOEY ISSN: 0944-7113.
(5)Current lead natural products for the chemotherapy of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. De
Clercq, Erik. Rega Institute for Medical Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Louvain, Belg. Medicinal
Research Reviews (2000), 20(5), 323-349. CODEN: MRREDD ISSN: 0198-6325
(6)Caffeic acid phenethyl ester inhibits T-cell activation by targeting both nuclear factor of activated T-cells and
NF-B transcription factors. Marquez, Nieves; Sancho, Rocio; Macho, Antonio; Calzado, Marco A.; Fiebich,
Bernd L.; Munoz, Eduardo. Departamento de Biologia Celular, Fisiologia e Inmunologia, Universidad de
Cordoba, Facultad de Medicina, Cordoba, Spain. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
(2004), 308(3), 993-1001. CODEN: JPETAB ISSN: 0022-3565.
(7)Suppressive effects of propolis in rat adjuvant arthritis. Park, Eun-Hee; Kahng, Ja-Hoon. College of
Pharmacy, Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul, S. Korea. Archives of Pharmacal Research (1999), 22(6),
554-558. CODEN: APHRDQ ISSN: 0253-6269.
(8)Bulgarian propolis induces analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in mice and inhibits in vitro contraction of
airway smooth muscle. Paulino, Niraldo; Dantas, Andreia Pires; Bankova, Vassya; Longhi, Daniela Taggliari;
Scremin, Amarilis; Lisboa de Castro, Solange; Calixto, Joao Batista. Grupo de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento de
Biofarmacos (BIOFAR), Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina, Tubarao, Brazil. Journal of Pharmacological
Sciences (Tokyo, Japan) (2003), 93(3), 307-313. CODEN: JPSTGJ ISSN: 1347-8613.
For well over a century modern
science has progressed at a startling
rate. With this increase in knowledge
has come medicinal and healthcare
benefits that have seen ages peak
and diseases eradicated. These
medical advances were based around
the paradigm of the "magic bullet",
isolating the active ingredient and
using it to alter the chemistry of a
single molecule/protein to elicit a
change of state in the patient.
Success however has turned to
obsession as cracks appear in the
armoury of disease fighting drugs at
our disposal. MRSA is rifling through
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|These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
this website is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your physician before using natural
remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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