The medicinal effect of bee byproducts has been both embraced and questioned for centuries. Only recently have bee propolis uses been brought to light and welcomed in the realm of natural healthcare.
WebMD states that “Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.“
And according to the NCBI, “Propolis has been reported to have various health benefits related to gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and gynecological, oral, and dermatological problems.”
So, read on to learn more about propolis, and some of the practical uses of this gooey bee byproduct:
What is Bee Propolis?
Bees produce propolis to fill in the nooks and crannies in their hives. It is made from a combination of evergreen tree sap, beeswax, and other bee discharges like saliva.
The finished product is an effective greenish/brownish sealant the bees use to fuse unwanted openings in their hive. Beekeepers often struggle with the presence of propolis when they are maintaining their hives due to the firm hold it has on frames and other openings.
Common Bee Propolis Uses
Pure propolis isn't easy to come by unless you are a beekeeper, and it almost always contains other natural bee byproducts. You can often find propolis for sale on the internet, and in some drugstores, but it's best to use propolis directly from your hive.
Having your own ensures that it's as pure as possible without any additives.
Propolis is most commonly used for inflammation, oral sores, burns, and herpes. However, research on the effectiveness and other uses is still limited.
Even more frustrating is that not all propolis is the same… the composition of this bee product depends on the location the bee resides. For example, different local plants make different bee byproducts.
A word of caution: before you use propolis, in any form, to treat ailments, always consult your doctor. It's important to ensure that you won't have interactions or severe side-effects based on other medications and conditions.
Ailments that Propolis May Treat
- Sores inside the mouth: Using a propolis mouthwash may speed the recovery of oral lesions like canker sores.
- Burns: Not only might propolis treat burns, but it may also help to fight infections.
- Cold sores: Applying propolis in an ointment form may speed the healing process and treat pain associated with cold sores.
- Athlete's foot: Applying propolis to infected skin may prevent itching.
- Warts: There is research that shows taking propolis orally may treat warts, though this research is very young and unproven at this time.
Harvesting Your Own Propolis
Believe it or not, propolis tends to be quite the thorn (or should we say stinger) in the beekeeper's side!
Propolis is extremely difficult to remove; think about the last time you got sap on your hands?
Now imagine sap combined with beeswax…yeah, it's a stubborn substance.
Bees are very generous about using propolis to seal off any crannies that create a breeze within their hives. So, all you have to do is place a screenlike frame under a cracked hive cover.
Bees will go to work to coat the entire screen with propolis, which you can then freeze (so it becomes hard) and break off the screen when you are ready to use it!
Propolis Tincture Recipe (10%)
Ready to make your own propolis tincture? Here's what you will need and how to make your first batch:
You will need:
- Grind the propolis with a grinder, so it is nearly a powder.
- In the glass jars, mix together 1 part (by weight, not volume) propolis to 9 parts grain alcohol.
- Store in a cool dark place and shake the bottle at least once a day for about 1-2 weeks.
- Strain any extra chunks of propolis from the mixture.
Use your tincture neat or for creating other propolis infused items, like salves, balms, mouthwashes, and more!
It's pretty nice having your own version of a health store in your backyard, isn't it?