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The Many Uses of Bee Propolis in Oral Health and Medical Treatments

Propolis in beehives Português: Própolis em co...

Propolis is found in beehives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beehives not only produce honey and beeswax that humans harvest for food, medicine, and other practical purposes. Many keepers of bee colonies also scrape off the sticky stuff that these stingers used as construction glue to keep their hives intact and protected from toxins and other harmful substances. Technically referred to as propolis, this golden brown resinous material has been used in topical ointments to treat wounds, sores and skin problems, as herbal treatment for common illnesses like flu, and as a special mouthwash to treat gum infections and dental caries.

Physical Properties of the Beehive Glue

Also known as bee putty, propolis turns into a strong adhesive after it’s been exposed to increasing temperatures of 25 to 45 degrees Celsius. Later, it hardens and becomes brittle when exposed to a generally cold weather. Most of the bee glue used to manufacture modern medicine and health supplements come from Brazil because the region’s climate keeps it in a melted state. The overall texture and stickiness of Brazilian Red propolis won’t be affected during production in various beekeeping farms.

Mostly, propolis contains flavonols, flavones, and flavanones normally found in honey. These phenol acids act as antioxidants that promote cellular growth and repair affected tissues weakened by an illness or physical injury. It seems that whatever organic materials that the worker bees gathered from their forays outside the hive have been altered by these hard working insects to form the glue. In fact, at least 67 species of flowering plants and trees, such as willows and chestnuts, have been found in lab samples by scientists.

Organic Composition and Nutritive Value of Propolis

In addition to resin, the chemical composition of propolis also consisted of some fatty acids that came from beeswax and plants, volatile essential oils, around 5% of bee pollen with 16 types of amino acids and proteins, and another 5% of trace minerals like zinc and iron as well as steroids, quinines, vitamins, and sugars. Pure propolis also contains esters, such as caffeic acids, that various clinical studies proved to work well as a general anesthetic and to effectively inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.

Actually, pure propolis harvested from bees doesn’t have much nutritional content. That’s why, when you buy propolis supplements today, you’ll see that they have been fortified with additional amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that the human body needs. The propolis extract works in synergy with other chemical compounds and increasing the efficacy of the treatment. Traditionally, this bee putty comes as a water-soluble tincture that may be applied directly to affected areas or mixed with food and drinks. Now, people often buy propolis stored in gel capsules that patients can swallow easily.

Treating Common Viral Diseases and Bacterial Infections

In ancient times, people often mixed bee glue with herbs to create a paste, which they applied on open wounds and mouth sores to make them heal faster. The substance’s antiseptic qualities also helped patients avoid a feverish bout with pus-infected lesions that could lead to blood poisoning. The Greeks have been using it as an anti-inflammatory agent for bruises and skin problems marked by abnormal swelling, itchiness, and redness. In modern times, a pure propolis extract is a main ingredient in health supplements preserved in gels and capsules. Mostly, athletes and fitness buffs looking for bee pollen supplements will also find a site to buy propolis online.

Bacteria in skin lesions have always been the main culprit in developing infections. Bacteria in tooth cavities, for instance, lead to production of acids that eat away at the enamel. These result to what we call dental caries, which can be prevented through a mouthwash made from one part of propolis dissolved in five parts of water. In modern times, clinical trials conducted on this traditional oral rinse revealed it’s also an effective treatment for gingivitis and other gum infections. In addition, root canal fillers that contain more or less 50% propolis proved more efficient in preventing gangrene tissue to develop in the dentin cavity and root ends after the procedure.

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