By Dr. Lester Carter
Owner, Carter Drug Store
When we think bees, most of us think of honey. For millennia, people have enjoyed honey’s sweetness and other benefits. What is little known is that the hive is the source of three more health enhancing substances. These are pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.
This week we discuss the benefits of propolis and how it can support your health.
The healing properties of propolis have been known for some 2,000 years. Hippocrates used a propolis salve to treat wounds, and the Greeks, as a treatment for stomach ulcers. Far more recently, European scientists have investigated it, discovering that it is both an antibiotic and an antiviral substance.
In addition, it enhances immunity.
Propolis is made by honey bees from the resinous juice and sap of trees and tree buds. (These substances are used by the trees themselves to fight infection.) Bees live at close quarters. A hive may contain 40-50,000 inhabitants.
Propolis allows the hive to live healthily by protecting the bees against bacteria and disease. Propolis (from the Greek meaning “before the city”) is put around the entrance of the hive and used as cement to fix the honeycombs and stop up cracks and crevices. The bees encase any foreign invaders in propolis and then wax to prevent contamination of the hive.
Propolis also seems to work well to protect humans. According to NIH’s Medline Plus, propolis is used for canker sores as well as for infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis), by viruses (including flu, HlNl “swine” flu, and the common cold), by fungus, and by single-celled organisms called protozoans.
Propolis is also used for cancer of the nose and throat; and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems, including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease. Propolis is also used for boosting the immune system and as an antioxidant and antiinflammatory agent.
As with the ancients, people still sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing. It is also used on genital herpes and cold sores. Medline reports that some research suggests propolis might heal genital herpes lesions faster and more completely than the conventional treatment, 5 percent acyclovir ointment. As a mouth rinse, it has been attributed with improving healing while reducing pain and inflammation after mouth surgery.
Commenting on the effectiveness of propolis, John Diamond, MD, past president of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, has stated, “Of all the natural substances I have tested, the one that seems to be the most strengthening to the thymus, and hence life energy, is bee propolis …. Propolis activates the thymus gland and, therefore, the immune system.” In The Healing Properties of Propolis, doctors A.I. Tichonov and D.P. Salvo affirm Dr. Diamond’s findings. For over 20 years, they used propolis in more than 70 different studies.
In addition, propolis contains a concentration of bioflavonoids 500 times that of oranges. It is thought that this potency may be responsible for the antibiotic activity of propolis. A variety of studies have shown bioflavonoids to retard bacterial and viral infections as well as improve the absorption of vitamin C.
Propolis boosts your powers of resistance against such
problems as viral infections, colds, flu, coughs, tonsillitis, and cystitis.
Next week: Royal jelly
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or NCON Communication, its staff or management. Being Frank is a bi-weekly column exclusive to the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.