Edited by Nutritionist Jen, 2nd Feb 2018
Bee propolis is indeed another fantastic gift from the bees. In fact, bees make more than honey. This nutrient-dense natural superfood is created by the bees from natural sap and resins found on trees. Bees make propolis by mixing beeswax and other resin secretion together. Propolis is used to “glue” the materials of the hive together. This resinous material is mainly used to seal small gaps or cracks in the hive. On top of that, propolis also acts as a germicidal barrier to protect the hive from contamination. The composition of the propolis may vary depends on hive, season and district. Vice versa, the source of resin found in the particular hive, will determine the final color of the propolis. It is normally dark brown in color, however it can be found in white, green, black or red hues as well.
Prior to making a tincture or extract from raw propolis, appropriate solvent has to be chosen. It is important to carefully choosing the correct solvent. In order to get better quality extract, ethanol is used (or any food grade alcohol that is at least 130 proof (65% alcohol) will work well. Alternatively, propolis can also be extracted by using aqueous extract (boiling in water) or with refined food quality oil (coconut oil, sunflower oil etc).
In general, raw propolis is composed of around 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% of various organic compounds [1,2,3]. With high content of bioflavonoids and amino acids, it may act as high antioxidant, thus aiding to scavenge free radicals and bring benefits towards general health, not to forget immune support. In fact, antioxidants are able to neutralize and eliminate free radicals from our body, and work in conjunction with the immune system to slow down the advance of free radicals. Specifically, propolis contains polyphenols called flavonoids which are produced in plants as a form of protection. Green tea, dark chocolate, berries are among natural food high in polyphenols, that give vegetables and fruits their distinct colors, apart from contributing to the aroma and flavor of the food.
Loaded with Vitamin A,C,D,E, Bee propolis fulfills the nutrient requirements of the body. Besides that, propolis may also help to provide respiratory support in children. Propolis is also well-known for its vast benefits on skin as it contains antiseptic properties which may improve your skin condition. Propolis kills most anaerobic strains of bacteria which includes those which may lead to clogged, infected pores.
This bee glue apart from offering promising health benefits, is also used worldwide in the manufacture of chewing gum, cosmetics, ointments, lozenges and even creams. It has gained tremendous popularity recently due to its vast benefits and commercial usage.
1. Burdock GA. Review of the biological properties and toxicity of bee propolis (propolis) Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1998;36(4):347–363. [PubMed]
2. Park YK, Alencar SM, Aguiar CL. Botanical origin and chemical composition of Brazilian propolis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2002;50(9):2502–2506. [PubMed]
3. 9. Pietta PG, Gardana C, Pietta AM. Analytical methods for quality control of propolis. Fitoterapia. 2002;73(1):S7–S20. [PubMed]