Propolis food supplement: what benefits?
Propolis is a coating that bees make from the various resins they collect from the buds and bark of trees. They induce the inside of the hives to guarantee watertightness, solidity and asepsis. Thanks to its flavanoid content, propolis food supplements are given antiseptic, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Note however that the number of clinical trials is lacking in humans. Since the risk of developing a propolis allergy increases with the duration of treatment, it is recommended not to cure for more than 2-3 consecutive weeks. You must consult your doctor if you are allergic to bee products.
Description of propolis
The propolis is a coating whose bees are used to cover all interior surfaces of the hive to ensure watertightness, strength and asepsis. They make it from various resins that they collect on the buds and bark of trees (especially on poplars and conifers), and to which they add wax and salivary secretions.
Propolis plays a hygienic role by creating a protective layer against microbial or fungal invasions. The opening, called the “flight hole”, which is at the entrance to the hive, is constantly adjusted and reshaped using propolis to adapt its dimensions and orientation according to climatic conditions. At the same time, this passage constitutes a sort of sterilization chamber at the entrance to the hive, hence the name propolis which means, in ancient Greek, “in front” (pro) the “city” (polis).
Hard and brittle at 15 ° C, propolis becomes soft and malleable around 30 ° C, then sticky or sticky at higher temperatures. Its color can vary from light yellow to very dark brown, almost black, passing through a whole range of browns depending on the types of resins collected by workers. It has an acrid, even bitter, flavor and gives off a sweetish odor linked to the aromatic resins it contains.
We generally assign the therapeutic properties (antiseptics, antibacterials and antioxidants) of propolis with its flavonoid content (pinocembrine, galangin and pinobanksin in particular). This content can however vary a lot from one product to another, in particular depending on the place of harvest.
History of propolis
In Egypt, the propolis was used for embalming. It was also known to the ancient Greeks since Aristotle presented it in his History of animals, as a “remedy for skin conditions, wounds and suppurations”. It experienced a resurgence in popularity in the XIXe century when doctors in the English army used it to disinfect wounds and facilitate their healing during the Boer War in South Africa.
Because of the plant resins it contains, propolis has long been considered in the traditional herbalism as a useful remedy to combat infections of all kinds, both internally and externally.
Note also that propolis was part of the varnish used by the famous luthier Stradivarius.
|There is currently no consensus on the standardization of therapeutic products based on propolis. Propolis is found in the form of raw pieces, capsules, tablets, chewing gum, fluid or dry extract, tincture, mouthwash, toothpaste, ointment, etc. In addition, some syrups, herbal remedies, and vitamin and mineral supplements contain varying amounts.|
Respiratory tract infections
- Traditionally, clinicians (especially European) recommend taking 1 g of pure propolis, 1 to 3 times a day. For extracts, follow the directions of the manufacturer or a healthcare professional.
- Mouthwash (plaque and gingivitis). Commercial products contain varying percentages of propolis. Rinse your mouth for 60 to 90 seconds, 1 to 2 times a day.
- Ointment (burns, skin wounds, vaginal infections, genital herpes, etc.). Commercial ointments contain varying percentages of propolis. Apply to affected areas, 4 times a day, for 10 days.
|N.B. Stop apps from propolis in case of allergic reactions. Similarly, stop treatment if no results are obtained after 2 to 3 weeks. A propolis treatment should not be prolonged beyond 3 weeks.|
|Although relatively few placebo-controlled clinical trials have been conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of propolis, its antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are well documented in in vitro and animal studies.|
Some data in vitro indicate that propolis is effective against the herpes virus. However, there is only one clinical trial with 90 subjects, and its methodology leaves something to be desired. In this study, an ointment with propolis (3% propolis), was more effective than an ointment with acyclovir (classic medicine for the treatment of herpes) and that a placebo to cure the lesions of the genital herpes and to attenuate the symptoms.
According to 2 trials of poor methodological quality, propolis would be useful to treat vaginitis (94 patients in all).
Gingivitis, sores and infections of the oral mucosa
Tests in vitro indicate that propolis is effective against various pathogens that can infect the oral cavity (bacteria and fungi). Some clinical trials indicate that propolis, in topical use, promotes the process of healing sores and infections of the oral mucosa (gingivitis, periodontitis, abscess, wounds, fungi) and can reduce the recurrence of canker sores in people who suffer from it recurrently (internal use).
Prevention of caries
The antiseptic virtues of propolis being well documented, we find, especially in Europe, toothpastes and mouthwashes which contain it as an agent anticary. Several animal trials have shown promising results, but the few human trials have shown mixed results. According to the author of a synthesis on the anticary properties of propolis, these divergent results are probably attributable to the variable composition of the propolis used during the tests.
In addition, in a preliminary placebo-free study in Saudi Arabia, it was observed that propolis could reduce hypersensitivity dental. A test on human teeth indicates that it is by acting as a sealant, that propolis could have this effect, that is to say by filling the small channels (tubules) which are under the enamel.
Respiratory tract infections
Data from clinical studies is lacking in strength. According to a trial of 50 subjects, the propolis reduced the duration of cold symptoms faster than a placebo. Propolis, as a nasal spray, decreased the number of nasopharyngitis in treated children compared to a control group who received no treatment (94 subjects). However, the methodological quality of these 2 studies is poor.
A trial of good methodological quality was carried out with 328 preschool children: compared to a placebo, a preparation (Chizukit®) based on echinacea, propolis and vitamin C reduced the number and severity of pathway infections respiratory. Echinacea and vitamin C can also have effects on the symptoms of these infections, so it is difficult to determine what was the proper role of propolis in these results.
A trial was conducted in Egypt on 135 people with warts. They took for 3 months propolis (500 mg per day), echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, 600 mg daily) or placebo (oral). In common and flat warts, propolis was significantly more effective than placebo and echinacea in curing participants. In the case of plantar (underfoot) warts, none of the 3 treatments was effective.
- Otitis : In a poor methodological trial, treatment with propolis and zinc was more effective than placebo at reducing recurrent ear infections in children.
- Asthma : Compared to a placebo, propolis significantly reduced the number and severity of nocturnal asthma attacks, improved respiratory functions and decreased the mechanisms of inflammation (46 subjects).
- Cancer : According to the author of a review, propolis could be an interesting adjuvant treatment for cancer, especially given its anti-tumor properties documented by tests in vitro and on animals. Research continues, but no clinical trial has confirmed this hypothesis.
- Traditional uses: A few clinical trials have confirmed several of the traditional uses of propolis, for example for the treatment of burns (as effective as a medicated cream), from eye damage post-herpetic and some giardase (as effective as a drug). Giardase is an intestinal infection caused by the parasite Giarda intestinalis.
Datas in vitro indicate that propolis has a antifungal action comparable to that of itraconazole, a classic synthetic antifungal, and that it can increase the bactericidal action of clarithromycin to fight Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes gastric ulcers. It also appears to improve the effectiveness of some commonly used antibiotics against salmonella.
- The risk of developing an allergy to propolis increases with the duration of treatment. Do not use for more than 2 or 3 consecutive weeks.
- There is a risk of cross allergy in case of allergy to Tiger Balm® or balsam poplar.
- People allergic to bee products.
- Allergic reactions. Several cases have been reported, some serious, notably in Italy and Canada.
- A few cases of minor and temporary gastrointestinal disturbances have been reported.
With plants or supplements
- As we mention in the Research section, propolis could improve the effectiveness of certain antifungal or antibiotic drugs.