Propolis - Bees Provide More Than Honey
by Cara Zolinsky
contains strong antiseptic properties that they use to create a sterile environment in
which the queen bee can lay her eggs. It is also a protective agent that they use to
embalm persistent intruders.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, recent studies suggest that honeybee propolis, with its
combination of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, can naturally bolster the human
immune system. This substance is currently available in both tablet and capsule form
or, alternatively, as an ointment or spray.
Science Confirms Folk Wisdom
The honeybee is a valued creature in folk wisdom. Its honey has long been known as
a "cure all" for physiological symptoms ranging from head colds to infections. What is
striking is that now science is confirming what holistic practitioners have long
known-propolis does, indeed, have impressive medicinal properties.
The key to its medicinal properties, scientists believe, lies in an ingredient known as
CAPE (caffeic acid phenethyl ester), the primary active ingredient in propolis. It has
been determined that CAPE hosts the antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory
properties of bee honey.
Studies have shown that such bee benefits of propolis include treatment of such
varied ailments as bronchitis, headaches, burns, rashes, eczema-and cancer.
Cancer Studies of the Bee Benefits of Propolis
The most impressive bee benefits of propolis may be its effects upon certain types of
cancer. A number of studies have shown that propolis may, one day, be a factor in a
One such study was conducted by researchers at Universitaets Klinikum Eppendorf in
Hamburg, Germany, who tested propolis on neurofibromatosis. (Neurofibromatosis
is both a genetic condition that is present in approximately 1 in 3,000 people, and a
known precursor to cancerous tumors.)
Neurofibromatosis is caused by a malfunction of the genes NFI and NF2. Research
has shown that the PAK1 gene causes the growth of these NF1 or NF2 tumors. But
researchers have yet to successfully develop a PAK1 suppression drug.
When these researchers administered a mixture of propolis-extract and water to
mice that had been grafted with NF1 and NF2 tumors, they made a stunning
discovery-proplis had effectively halted the growth of NF1 and sent NF2 into almost
Though these initial results are encouraging, much research still needs to be done.
The researchers in this German study, for instance, did not conduct tests on the
long-term tumor reducing effects of propolis, an essential step in judging the efficacy
of this treatment. Nor has this particular experiment been tested on humans due to
CAPE's poor physiological absorption rate by the human body. Still, researchers
expect that an effective, fully absorbable version of CAPE will be available for the
treatment of cancer in the near future.
At any rate, this study and others that show such possible cancer-fighting properties
of proplis are understandably causing excitement within the medical community.
But cancer is not the only condition that propolis is effective in treating. Its
antioxidant properties have shown promise in treating hyperthermia as well. A recent
study conducted by scientists at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan tested the
effects of propolis on a common malady of athletes-hyperthermia, or heat stress.
Hyperthermia is a proven precursor to the dehydration and fatigue suffered by many
athletes. Since hyperthermia is the result of free radicals that are produced by
exercise-induced damage to the body, researchers wondered if the purported
antioxidant properties of propolis could repair this damage.
To that end, the researchers drew blood from 30 competitive cyclists who had
participated in endurance training in the past two to four years prior to the study.
After examining their blood, the researchers concluded that propolis had, indeed,
repaired the cells that otherwise would have succumbed to hyperthermia-induced
Studies such as these are confirming the bee benefits of propolis that folk legend has
long claimed-bee honey may, indeed, be a cure-all for a number of conditions that
traditional medicine has failed to successfully or comprehensively treat.
About The Author
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While bees are valued for their
pollination activities and honey
production, they provide substances
of far greater import than honey. The
most important benefits, in fact, may
lie in their production of a
disease-fighting compound called
Propolis is a sticky substance bees
collect from the buds and bark of
trees. With this sticky substance,
they build their beehives. But this is
not the only function of propolis.
Bees transform this substance into a
disinfectant for their homes. It
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