Bee is one of the oldest species in the world, its age dates longer than 50 million years ago and some scientists believe that propolis is the main factor that has contributed to this longevity. Propolis is a sticky resin collected by the bees from the buds or bark of certain trees like: birch, poplar, eucalyptus, chestnut, willow, pine, elm, oak. These trees produce a special antibiotic sap in order to protect themselves from infection. Bees collect this sap, blend it with was flakes secreted by special glands on their abdomen and use it for their purposes.
The herbal species out of which propolis is extracted can be found all over the planet excepting North Pole, South Pole and Sahara Desert. In different areas on the globe bees collect the resin from different species of trees; in Europe the main sources of propolis are birch, poplar, oak and willow, in North America poplar and pine, in South America, West Asia and Northern Africa- poplar.
The name "propolis" comes from two Greek words: "pro" meaning "before" or "for" and "polis" meaning "city"-as bees are using propolis in order to protect their city. In the hive propolis is used as a kind of cement or clay in order to cover small holes in the walls, protecting both from intruders and from temperature variability and, most important, as propolis is a very efficient antiseptic, it is used for protection against infections. Sometimes even a mouse can enter the hive through a small hole and after eating honey it would get too fat to be able to leave the hive through the same hole and it dies inside. Bees protect their hive from getting infected by the corpse by covering it with propolis, that induces sort of mummification process and prevents the spread of any disease.
Historically, propolis has been used since ancient times: Egyptians were using it for mummification, ancient Chinese for alleviating toothache and killing bacteria, ancient Romans for wound healing and for infectious diseases. Legends say that the Roman god Jupiter transformed beautiful Melissa into a bee so that she could produce the miraculous healer-propolis. In ancient Greece propolis was used-as Hippocrates recommended-for healing sores and ulcers, both internally and externally. Later on, propolis was mentioned in Arabian and Greek medical books during the 19 th century, being use for treating infections, skin diseases, respiratory and joint problems.
Nowadays propolis is used in many medicinal formulas especially in Eastern Europe and food supplements for improving health, preventing and treating infections, inflammatory diseases, heart diseases, liver diseases, diabetes and even some types of cancer.
Composition of propolis: 55% resins, 7, 5-3, 5% wax, 10% volatile oils, 55% bee pollen, 5% fatty acids, 4, 4-19% impurities, vitamins: A, B, E, P, minerals: magnesium, calcium, aluminum, silicium, irons. Resins, the main compound of propolis, are rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, besides studies have proven that propolis contains about 150 chemical compounds beneficial for human health, among which: volatile acids, cinamic acid, benzoic acid, aromatic acids, terpenes, aminoacids, aldehides, alcohols and many others.
Indications for propolis use: It is used in dental sensitivity early studies show that propolis mouthwash reduces plaque formation, reduces bacteria in the mouth and relieves dental pain and gum inflammation. Due to the strong antibacterial, antiviral, immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory effect, it is very efficient in ENT and respiratory diseases: sore throat, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia. Dr. Kravcuk from Kiev found that propolis was effective against sore throats and dry coughs in 90% of 260 patients. In gastritis and gastric ulcer, as it is very active against Helicobacter pylori; in a clinical study involving 294 patients Dr Franz K Feiks in Austria found out that 90% of 108 patients with gastritic ulcer that were given propolis were free of symptoms after 2 weeks, compared with 55% of 186 that were given conventional treatment. It is used in genital inflammations and infections because it is both antibiotic, antifungal antiviral and has antiinflamatory properties. It is used in genital infections with Candida, Trichomonas vaginalis, Gardnerella vaginalis, Gram-positive germs, Herpes simplex-2. In Cancer, as an adjuvant treatment, as it increases immunity and protects against the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy. It is used in intestinel parasites in adults and children, in hemorroids as a suppository, in viral and toxic hepatitis, as it has both antiviral and liver protective properties.
In superficial burns and wounds, as it promotes healing the wound, but it should not be applied locally if there might be any risk of infection with anaerob germs, as it can forms a surface that prevents oxigenation of the tissues. In skin fungal infections, applied topically. It is used in cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels also. Propolis was proven to be non toxic when taken orally or applied on the skin or on mucous membranes, still there are persons that develop hypersensitivity to propolis, so the treatment should begin with small doses and increased gradually and it should not be taken by persons with known allergies to bee products or children under 12 months old.