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Sticks of green propolis packed with benefits

Propolis: how to get the best out of this beehive treasure

Produced by bees to protect the hive from the cold and diseases, propolis is a veritable treasure trove of beneficial compounds. Discover its secrets and how to get the most out of it.

What exactly is propolis?

Propolis is a substance produced by worker bees from wax and plant resins. Resin exuded around the buds and bark of certain trees and shrubs is collected by foraging bees and transported back to the hive for processing by worker bees (1).

They in turn mix the resin with wax and saliva in their mouths to make an extremely rich paste with close to 400 active ingredients crucial to the life of the hive.

Propolis is used by bees as a cement to repair the hive or to seal openings, and form a protected entrance. It also acts as thermal insulation against the winter cold and thus reduces heat loss from the hive.

In addition, propolis protects the hive from disease with its antiseptic and antifungal properties. These properties are used by the bees to embalm intruders: with the cadavers thus enclosed in antiseptic, insulated coffins, they dry out, so preventing the spread of disease in the hive.

The action of these properties within the hive has led a number of research teams to study the potential effects of propolis on human health (2).

And it is these same properties that have ensured propolis has been used for thousands of years, for example, as a balm applied to wounds (3).

Composition of propolis

Propolis contains hundreds of active and aromatic ingredients, which come partly from the resin collected by the bees, and partly from chemical and organic reactions associated with the production of propolis by the bees’ mastication.

Its composition thus includes a number of particularly interesting molecules (4):

  • flavonoids ;
  • chalcones (natural phenols) ;
  • benzaldehydes ;
  • cinnamyl alcohol and cinnamic acid;
  • terpenes, sesquiterpenes and triterpenes;
  • sterols;
  • amino acids...

These various compounds are present in varying proportions, however, depending on the type and origin of the propolis.

The different kinds of propolis

Propolis is generally thought to exist in 3 main forms:

  • yellow (or brown) propolis. This is the most common form. It comes from various European countries and is normally obtained from poplar or elm resin. However, unless it is certified organic, meaning that the bee colonies are located solely in areas that are totally pesticide-free, it may contain traces of chemicals associated with intensive farming methods;
  • green propolis, such as our product Green Propolis. This comes from ‘field rosemary’ resin collected by bees, a plant with the botanical name of Baccharis dracunculifolia. This excellent propolis originates from Brazil and is produced well away from intensively-cultivated land in order to preserve its purity;
  • red propolis, such as our supplement Red Propolis. This is obtained from the resin of the woody climber Dalbergia ecastaphyllum, which grows in tropical mangroves It is the rarest and most beneficial of the forms of propolis available.

If you’re interested in beehive-based supplements, you may also want to benefit from the nutritionally-rich royal jelly, with the product Organic Royal Jelly 4% (an organic supplement standardized to 4% 10-HDA).

Which is the best way to take propolis?

Propolis is often found in the form of sprays which are produced by alcoholic extraction. These are designed to be used orally, for local treatment of the gums, tongue or throat. It is also available as an ointment, also for topical application.

To obtain maximum benefit from the 400+ active and aromatic ingredients in propolis, and ensure they reach all areas of the body, it’s best to to ingest it so that the compounds are absorbed during digestion. This way, the propolis acts as a complement to the diet, ensuring a significant intake of flavonoids, amino acids, etc.

To conclude then, if you want to consume propolis, this veritable beehive treasure, in the best way possible, as a complement to a healthy, balanced diet high in fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, fibre and lean protein ... we recommend opting for capsules containing standardized extract of red or green propolis, with a high content of active ingredients.

References

  1. E. L. Ghisalberti (1979) Propolis: A Review, Bee World, 60:2, 59-84, DOI: 10.1080/0005772X.1979.11097738
  2. A. Aparecida Berretta, M. A. Duarte Silveira, J. M. Cóndor Capcha, D. De Jong, Propolis and its potential against SARS-CoV-2 infection mechanisms and COVID-19 disease Running title: Propolis against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Elsevier, November 2020
  3. https://eurekasante.vidal.fr/parapharmacie/complements-alimentaires/propolis.html
  4. Mc Marcucci. Propolis: chemical composition, biological properties and therapeutic activity. Apidologie, Springer Verlag, 1995, 26 (2), pp.83-99

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