Propolis: The latest wellbeing buzz

Guest post by

Charlotte Haigh

Charlotte Haigh is a London-based health writer, contributing regularly to titles including Stylist, Marie Claire, Woman & Home, Healthy, Women's Health, Grazia and Health & Fitness.

Author views are not our own.

You may know all about the health benefits of Manuka honey – and if not, we’ll recap at the end here – but it’s not the only wonder-substance bees produce.

They also make propolis, a glue-like compound that coats the hive. Emerging research shows its potential for wellness benefits – which is why we’re including it with our Manuka honey in a new and convenient oral-spray bottle.

This winter, you can support your immunity with our Propolis and Manuka Immune Defence Oral Spray including Vitamin D. To find out more about magical propolis, read on!

So what exactly is propolis?

Honeybees make it from substances they collect from plants, combining these with saliva and beeswax, to form a sticky, waxy ‘glue’ that’s soft and pliable in warmer temperatures and hard when it’s cold. Bees use propolis as a sealant for their hives, to fill in cracks, smooth walls and form a protective sealant against the weather and invaders. It can help maintain the humidity inside a hive, and it also has antibiotic properties, thought to help look after the health of the bees, which all live in close proximity to each other in the hive. Propolis can range in colour from transparent to yellow, red and dark brown, and has been found to contain resins, waxes, oils and pollens, in varying degrees. Its makeup depends a lot on the region but over 300 compounds have been identified. Most of these are antioxidant polyphenols called flavonoids, known to help protect the body1,2.

The wellbeing link

Ancient cultures knew something about the benefits of propolis. The Egyptians used it for embalming bodies. And there’s evidence the ancient Greeks and Romans used it in wound-healing. Since then, it’s been in traditional use in various countries around the world, and is thought to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. There’s still a lot we have yet to learn about propolis but science is beginning to confirm some of the ways propolis may help your health...

It may help your immune system fight bugs
Although more research is needed, some studies suggest propolis may have a role in helping your body fight viruses. In lab tests, it’s been found to have antiviral properties3. Propolis has been shown to fight the herpes virus that causes cold sores, potentially shortening the duration of an outbreak. One recent paper has even looked into whether it may help against Covid-19, proposing its anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity may help the body battle the disease, and potentially prevent some of the worst effects4. We don’t currently have enough evidence, but propolis is considered safe for most people (avoid if you’re allergic to bees or honey) and potentially promising.

It may soothe inflammation
Propolis has been used traditionally for calming inflammatory conditions, and some research has shown why it may be helpful. It has properties that help fight pro-inflammatory substances in the body, while increasing levels of other substances that help drive down inflammation5. It’s been used in dentistry and may also have a role in easing sore throats6.

It has antibacterial benefits
Like its cousin, honey, propolis has been found to help blitz bacteria. We need more research to show exactly how it works in the body, but one paper found it lowered levels of some of the bacteria linked with tooth decay7.

It may help your body heal
This amazing bee-glue has been shown to help tissues repair. And it’s a potent antioxidant, gobbling up the toxic free radicals that can be produced in the body as a result of factors like stress, pollution and poor diet8.

Your wellness-boosting duo

No wonder we’ve combined propolis with that other gift from the bees, Manuka honey. All honey has antibacterial qualities but Manuka honey’s a hero. It’s packed with a powerful antimicrobial substance called methylglyoxal (MGO), plus other compounds known to battle certain bacteria. There’s some emerging evidence that suggests Manuka honey may have some antiviral effects, too9. Alongside measures to look after your overall health – including a healthy diet, exercise, stress management and plenty of sleep – our new spray may be a valuable addition to your winter wellbeing strategy.

Sources:
1. Wagh VD. Propolis – a wonder bee product and its pharmacological potentials https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872021/
2. Kuropatnicki A et al. Historical aspects of propolis research in modern times. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3655583/
3. Shnitzler P et al. antiviral activity and MOA of propolis extracts and selected compounds https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.2868 4. Berretta AA et al. 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 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32890967/ 5. Campos JF et al. Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Cytotoxic Activities of Propolis from the Stingless Bee Tetragonisca fiebrigi (Jataí). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4491730 6. Kuropatnicki A et al. Historical aspects of propolis research in modern times. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3655583/ 7. Steinberg D. Antibacterial effect of propolis and honey on oral bacteria. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9545875/ 8. Kuropatnicki A et al. Historical aspects of propolis research in modern times. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3655583/ 9. Watanabe K et al. Anti-influenza viral effects of honey in vitro: potent high activity of manuka honey. Arch Med Res. 2014 Jul;45(5):359-65

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