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Bee Propolis Benefits

By Kimberly Riggins

Propolis, famously known as "bee glue," is a sticky, waxy substance made by bees said to contain anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. It is abundant in amino acids, antioxidants known as bioflavonoids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Propolis has been used for centuries to enhance the immune system, treat various skin conditions, aid in preventing cancer and treat viral infections such as genital herpes. Propolis can be found in capsule, oral rinse, lozenge, liquid, ointment and cream form.

Immunity Booster

Bee propolis is thought to contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that have the ability to enhance and improve the immune system. In a study published in the August 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research," scientists found propolis can alter or regulate the immune system. During this study, subjects who were given bee propolis showed higher levels of proteins and compounds that play a central role in regulating the immune system.

Anti-Cancer Agent

Bee propolis may have anti-tumor capabilities, making it an alternative treatment or preventative measure for cancer. In a study published in the February 2004 issue of the "American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology," clinicians found that propolis killed the human breast carcinoma cell known as MCF-7. After participants were given a propolis extract, in just 24 hours, 13 percent of the cancer cells were obliterated. In another study five years later, published in the November issue of "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine," researchers found that red bee propolis significantly suppressed the vascular endothelial growth factor, which is often responsible for cancer. Therefore, researchers concluded that bee propolis contains therapeutic compounds that have the potential to prevent and help treat angiogenesis-related human diseases such as cancer.

Natural Antiseptic

Bee propolis, with its active ingredients including flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenes, amino acids and vitamins, has been used as antiseptic topical ointment for centuries, dating back to the ancient Egyptians. It is proposed that propolis speeds up the healing process and tissue repair of wounds such as cuts, bruises, scrapes and sores. During a study that was published in the September/October 2009 issue of "Wound Repair and Regeneration," researchers found that in animal testing, a single application of propolis on an epithelial closure speeded up healing.

Genital Herpes Treatment

Genital herpes, which is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2, is a chronic, persistent, sexually transmitted viral infection. Bee propolis, with its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, may give some relief to those suffering from a herpes outbreak. In a study published in 2000 in the March issue of "Phytomedicine," clinicians concluded that a propolis ointment containing natural flavonoids healed the genital herpes outbreak much quicker and relieved the symptoms faster than those who were given a placebo. Ten years later, another study was published in the February issue of "Phytomedicine" that stated propolis extracts exhibited high levels of anti-viral activity against genital herpes; almost 99 percent of the infection was relieved after administration. If the extract was used in addition to the oral preventative treatment drug, the anti-herpetic activity against the virus increased.

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