What is Propolis?
Honey bee workers visit flora and trees such as balsam, birch and poplar and collect the sap, carrying it back to the beehive on their legs in the same baskets used for collecting pollen. Once it is back in the hive the workers mix the sappy resins with beeswax to create the sticky mixture we call propolis.
In the beehive, propolis is used as a glue to hold hive parts together and to seal off holes. It is also used to create a sterile environment if a foreign substance is too large for the bees to remove from the hive.
Propolis has anti-bacterial and antifungal proprties that help the bees make their home more disease resistant.
Health Benefits of Propolis
Humans have used propolis for health throughout history. In human uses propolis is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as well as anti-viral and anti-inflammatory; a natural antibiotic. It also has mild anesthetizing effects. It helps heal sore throats, bronchitis, inner mouth sores, gingivitis, acne, cuts, and is an immune system booster.
Typically propolis can be found for sale in three forms of extractives; water, oil or alcohol. It is also used to make tinctures mixed with other beehive products and/or herbs. Propolis extracted by alcohol is known to remove the highest amount of medicinal components from the propolis and it is easily absorbed by the body.
Propolis can be consumed for internal healing in the form of propolis milk. Propolis milk can be made by taking 30 to 50 drops (or as directed on the tincture bottle) in a small glass of warm water. The tincture will turn a milky white and may have a small amount of orange-y coating on the top. This is simply wax that has also dissolved in the alcohol and it is consumable too. It may stick to the sides of the cup, in which case it is best washed with cold water after you have consumed the milk. You can take propolis milk several times a day or once daily for maintenance.
When you want to take propolis for a cold, bronchitis, or lung infections, you can make a simple atomizer. Simply get a bowl and towel. Boil 1 cup of water and begin with one drop of propolis tincture into the water. Lean over the hot water and cover your head and the bowl with the towel and then inhale slowly. You can increase your does by one drop each time you do this over the duration of treating your illness.
A third method of treatment is to place a teaspoon of raw honey into your mouth and hold, allowing your saliva to thin the honey. Then add 30-50 drops of propolis. Hold this in your mouth again until very thin, letting it rest under your tongue if possible, then swallow slowly.
To use propolis externally, you can apply it on the affected area with a Q-tip (this also works well for sores inside the mouth). This is effective for disinfecting wounds.
Propolis is a natural product which the body can easily metabolize, making it a valuable addition to a natural medicine cabinet!