Although I’ve told my patients about the health benefits of bee propolis before, some recent research has shown its properties to be particularly useful to people over-50. So, I’d like to update some new findings about this simple bee product that has so many outstanding health benefits to humans.
Propolis – The Health Gift From Bees That Keeps You Younger Longer
Propolis is a simple “building tool” that bees use as glue to build their hives. They mix their own “beeswax” substance with the resin of poplar, and cone-bearing trees, to create it. It helps keep the walls of the hives together as well as keep out the elements. It has been used as a medicine since 350 B.C. by the Greeks who used it for healing skin abscesses. The Assyrians also made good use of it for healing wounds and tumors.
It has been used in modern alternative medicine for some years as well. Health researchers found it to be a powerful antioxidant, which had many healthy benefits to humans, not just the skin. It was found to be especially good at also healing sore throats when taken in a lozenge form and helping bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It’s also recently been found to be helpful in healing Helicobacter pylori infections – the bacteria that is often present in stomach ulcers – and viral herpes infections.
Propolis’ anti-aging properties are of special interest to me as an anti-aging specialist. It has been found to be an amazing immune system booster that helps repair DNA damage from free radicals. DNA damage is what sets “aging”, and all its offshoot diseases like heart disease, cancer, and others – into motion.
Researchers have also done studies on propolis’ effect on particular systems of the human body that are often affected by “aging”. Here’s what researchers now know about propolis that is especially helpful to people growing older:
1. Brain: Previously, the effects of propolis had been largely unknown to researchers. Yet, recent research done by the Ruder Boskovic Institute has shown that propolis can protect brain cells from damage and brain tissue from atrophy (shrinkage). It strengthens certain weakened genes thought to be at the center of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It does this through its high antioxidant properties that clear free radicals from brain tissue that enables damaging plaques to build on the brain. Propolis has also been seen to shrink gliomas – brain tumors – and increase blood supply to the brain which oxygenates and energizes all brain tissues.
2. Heart: Protects it from cardio-toxic substances in the blood stream that tend to weaken heart muscle and vascular systems.
3. Eyes: Because of its high antioxidant properties, propolis was found to help prevent cataract formation and increase blood supply (oxygen, nutrients) to the eyes. This helps keep the cornea and lens healthy and free from free radical damage and even helps mechanical injuries heal faster.
4. Dental: Because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, new research is being conducted as to whether propolis can be used as a dental sealant to help prevent cavities. It is also being looked at as a tooth enamel hardener. Loss of enamel as people get older can lead to the breakdown and loss of teeth.
How To Take Propolis
Propolis is taken most easily through a supplement – lozenges, granules, capsules, powder, tinctures, or chunks of raw propolis. However, start small and work up gradually, when first starting to take propolis, to determine if you can tolerate it. You may want to consult a naturopathic physician skilled in its use to determine dosage specific to you.
Possible Side Effects of Propolis
Because it’s a substance associated with bees – some people may have an allergic reaction to propolis. Propolis is a food substance, not a medication, so if you have other food allergies, are allergic to bees, or bee-by-products like honey, you may be allergic to propolis as well. In addition, if you have allergies to cone bearing trees, like poplars, conifers, Peru balsams, and even salicylates (aspirin products) you may have a reaction to propolis as well. There aren’t any known interactions with propolis and prescription medications, but you may want to ask a pharmacist, or your doctor, if you can safely take propolis with your prescriptions.
Propolis can be one more tool in your anti-aging arsenal. It certainly has proven itself to have a multitude of human health benefits that can keep your vision clear, and your heart and brain healthy long into your older years.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.