Propolis is created by honeybees to build their hives. This resinous substance is frequently harvested by beekeepers and sold as a dietary supplement and health product ingredient. Propolis has a long history of use for medicinal purposes and continues to be incorporated into both traditional and modern medical practices.
Propolis is a type of bee glue. It is made primarily of sticky resins gathered from pine and poplar trees, particularly their buds. Honeybees gather this substance, then mix it with beeswax to produce a sort of mortar. This material is then used to line the inner surface of the hive itself and fill in any cracks as well as to build brood cells, where the queen will raise her young. The antiseptic properties of propolis help to keep the hive free from disease.
Propolis is thick, pasty and waxy in consistency. Its color can range from light green to dark brown in appearance. Draper Apiaries indicates that propolis roughly consists of around 55 percent resinous compounds, 30 percent beeswax, 10 percent aromatic oils and 5 percent bee pollen. The actual chemical constituents of propolis are not fully known and may vary, depending on the source from which it is gathered.
Throughout history, honeybee propolis has been used for medicinal purposes. Ancient Greeks used propolis to treat abscesses, while the Assyrians applied propolis to wounds and tumors. Propolis was also used in the mummification practices of the ancient Egyptians. Throughout the centuries, propolis has been used for treating a range of ailments, including acne, itching, osteoporosis, tuberculosis and cancer.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, honeybee propolis has antibiotic and antiseptic properties and may also have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties as well. The substance may be used as a treatment for burns, minor wounds and infections. The antiviral properties of propolis have led to its use as a treatment for genital herpes and canker sores. The anti-inflammatory properties of propolis may also help to reduce the effects of asthma.
Honeybee propolis is available in its pure form as a dietary supplement. It is also incorporated into a variety of other products, including chewing gum, cosmetics, skin creams, ointments and throat lozenges. Propolis is also being considered as a tooth sealer to treat dental pain and prevent tooth decay.
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