April 12, 2024

Propolis: The Natural Antibiotic and Healing Agent

What is Propolis?
Propolis, also known as bee glue, is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. Bees use it as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the beehive and to smooth out and strengthen the interior of the hive. Propolis has natural anti-microbial and healing properties.

Chemical Composition of Propolis
Main components include different types of phenolic compounds like flavonoids, phenolic acids and their esters. These compounds give propolis anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Propolis also contains amino acids, Vitamin E, cinnamic acid, and dietary minerals. Composition varies depending on the plant sources available to the bees in a geographic region.

Antibacterial Effects of Propolis

Propolis has a long history of medicinal use dating back to ancient times. Studies have shown that propolis has strong antibacterial activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including antibiotic resistant strains. The flavonoids and phenolic acids like caffeic acid and ferrulic acid found in Propolis  are responsible for its antibacterial action. This is due to their ability to interfere with bacterial metabolism and cell walls. Propolis has demonstrated effectiveness against bacteria that cause dental cavities, throat infections and skin diseases.

Anti-fungal Activity of Propolis
Propolis contains compounds that have inhibition effects on fungal growth. Research shows it to be active against fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm. compounds like caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) in propolis interrupt the fungal cell membrane and production of extra-cellular enzymes. This stops growth and spread of fungi. Many studies done on mice and laboratory cultures found propolis to be a powerful anti-fungal agent without any adverse reactions.

Anti-viral Effects of Propolis
Propolis has also gained interest due to its anti-viral properties. It inhibits infection and replication of viruses like influenza, herpes, and hepatitis B&C. Volatile aldehydes and caffeic acid phenethyl ester in propolis appear to disrupt virus-cell binding and penetration. Propolis may also stimulate immune cells like lymphocytes and macrophages to fight viruses indirectly. Animal experiments show propolis has strong anti-viral actions against viruses that commonly affect humans like vaccinia.

Anti-inflammatory and Healing Properties
Propolis has active ingredients like flavonoids and caffeic acid derivatives that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. They inhibit enzymes involved in inflammation progression like cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Studies show propolis reduces inflammatory responses to infections, injury and certain diseases. In vivo experiments also support propolis healing effects on burns, wounds, dental pulpitis and skin sores when applied externally. This accelerated healing action is attributed to its regenerative and blood vessel formation promoting abilities.

Other Benefits
Propolis has also demonstrated anti-tumor effects by inhibiting tumor cell proliferation. It has antioxidant activity due to the presence of polyphenols. These compounds help scavenge free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Research indicates propolis helps lower blood sugar levels and may provide benefits for conditions like diabetes and atherosclerosis due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Preliminary evidence suggests it moderates immune responses and could assist in autoimmune disorders.

The remarkable antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-viral and healing properties of propolis have led to its use in folk medicine for centuries. Modern science is continuing to uncover the detailed pharmaceutical actions of its bioactive compounds. Propolis is a promising natural remedy that warrants further research. Future discoveries may result in new applications against infectious diseases and in fields like dentistry and dermatology as a safe alternative to synthetic drugs. A better understanding of propolis mechanism can establish it more firmly as an alternative medicine choice that works in synergy with the body’s natural healing processes.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it