Propolis & Humans
How is propolis harvested?
In France, a beehive produces an average of 100 to 300 g of propolis a year. The quality and quantity of propolis harvested depend on the number of bees per hive and the specific characteristics of the region in which they are found. The abundance of plants and buds varies widely from one area to another.
This harvest takes place after the honey harvest, when the colony has reached its maximum production capacity. The beekeeper can harvest propolis from two particular sources.
- either by direct scraping of the frames and inner walls of the hive supers: the bee’s natural reflex is to fill unexpected gaps in the hive with Propolis, which is why there is a significant quantity on the frames, which beekeepers scra.pe to recover the material.
- or by fitting propolis screens to the hive: beekeepers “influence” Propolis production by using the bees’ little quirks to their advantage! To do this, they insert a specially designed grid into the hive and let the bees quietly coat it with resin. At the end of the season (usually in winter), the beekeeper collects these grids and freezes them, to make it easier to recover the Propolis that has become brittle with the cold.
Propolis becomes brittle in the cold and detaches more easily from its support. The beekeeper therefore chooses winter as the best time to harvest his propolis, whether it’s in the spring or autumn
How is propolis purified and transformed?
Raw propolis harvested at the hive contains many impurities linked to the activity of the hive and must therefore be purified.
It is in fact a complex substance that is recovered from the hive. Raw propolis contains on average nearly 40% of waste: wood scrap, dead bees, plant residues, and sometimes studs … The propolis collected in this way constitutes the raw material of the product containing impurities and will undergo careful sorting before any other use.
A pre-selection is made first by macroscopic observation of samples, with experience, eliminates the products of inferior quality and doubtful profile.
In order to refine the selection, a series of tests are carried out in the laboratory, guaranteeing optimal quality: absence of heavy metals and pesticides, verifying the presence of flavonoids, organic acids and polyphenols necessary for therapeutic activity of propolis. Once these checks have been carried out, all the foreign particles need to be filtered out for optimum use.
Propolis can then be prepared under different forms: Liquid extract, gum, powder… ready to be incorporated in the propolis based preparation!
During publishing results of molecular tests, they will follow the purification of raw propolis according to patented technique by some laboratories. It is dissolved in an alcoholic base. Then by centrifugation and decanting, the impurities are removed from the ethanol extract containing the active fraction of propolis that is known more commonly soft extract.
These extracts are used within the company to the preparation of many phyto-pharmaceutical products, and are incorporated into finished products according to manufacturing processes developed on the occasion of research and development actions of laboratories. Only experience and perseverance allow understanding the propolis behavior. And this information is essential to the standard extracts production and the manufacturing of stable products with rich and active ingredients.
What are the benefits of propolis for health?
The research carried out upstream has enabled us to identify the origins of the properties of propolis, and therefore to confirm its effectiveness on several levels:
Antiseptic and antibacterial
Propolis is a substance with predominantly antiseptic properties, which extend to many strains of bacterial micro-organisms, moulds and yeasts.
It acts by inhibiting cell division (no division = no propagation!), which is responsible for stopping the growth of germs, and by disorganising the cytoplasm and cytoplasmic and cellular membranes, as well as inhibiting protein synthesis. Its activity also concerns the germs responsible for tooth decay.
The compounds present in propolis, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, have anti-inflammatory effects. This can help reduce inflammation in the body and relieve symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.
Immune system support
Propolis can boost the immune system by stimulating the production of cytokines, which are molecules involved in the immune response. This can help prevent infections and promote better overall health.
The anti-oxidant action of propolis is particularly interesting for all skin preparations. Propolis contains natural antioxidants such as flavonoids, which help neutralise free radicals (identified as being linked to ageing) in the body. Antioxidants can help protect cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Some research highlights the antiviral properties of propolis, making it useful for supporting the immune system during viral illnesses such as colds, flu and herpes.
Inhibits the development of Candida, Candida Albicans, Torulopsis, Saccharomyces, Cryptococcus, etc.
Using propolis extract on damaged tissue stimulates the regeneration process.
The topical action of propolis-based preparations reduces skin sensitivity.
Propolis is used in many skin care products for its antiseptic, healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help soothe and heal skin problems such as acne, burns, wounds, eczema, psoriasis and irritations.
It’s important to note that the effects of propolis can vary from one person to another, and its use should be tailored to individual needs. It is always advisable to consult a health professional before adding propolis to your skin care routine or consuming it as a dietary supplement.
How long have humans used propolis?
History of the use of propolis since antiquity
Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Mayans…: and thousands of years, men have recourse to hive products for preventive, curative and obviously alimentary purposes. Empirically we found many traces of the use of honey in the disease of the ENT sphere. It is also recognized for many years, fortifying and hypotensive properties of pollen and royal jelly.
Less known than honey, propolis has been discovered and used since ancient times. Aristotle considered it as a remedy for skin diseases, wounds and suppuration. Aristotle had already considered Propolis as a remedy for skin affections, wounds and festering.
The earliest evidence of use of propolis probably is dated from the era of ancient Egypt, where it was used for its preservative and aromatic properties in the holy ritual of mummification and embalming. This shows the powerful conservative properties of propolis.
Propolis was also known at the time of ancient Greece. Moreover it is during this period that was born the word propolis, the prefix pro means before, ahead and polis: the city. According to comments, this material still ill-known from Greek clever, stood at the entrance of the hive, and stood as a protective barrier in way of chicanes, preventing pests and others from entering the city of bees. We note in particular that Aristotle mentions it in his work History of Animals and already notice about its antiseptic and healing properties, describing it as a remedy for skin diseases, wounds and suppuration.
At Rome, propolis is more expensive than honey. Every legionnaire had one piece during military campaigns. Pline said that it withdrew the sting, reduced swelling, decreased nerve pain, healed ulcers, abscesses and boils…
At the same time, on the South American continent, Inca seemed to use propolis for its anti-microbial properties to fight against the disease, which causes fever.
Few medical works from the 12th century mention that propolis was part of the preparation of many medicines fighting against minor infections of the skin and the respiratory system.
In France, during the 18th century it was used as a drug for wounds. Its popularity will increase at the beginning of our century because it will be used almost exclusively to heal the wounds of injured at the time of the Boer War.
In France, during the 18th and 19th centuries, we have found some diffuse traces of its use in the treatment of wounds, particularly on the battlefields of the Napoleonic campaigns.
It is especially during the colonial war that pitted the Boers, Dutch people of South Africa, against the British soldiers between 1880 and 1902 that the use of propolis peaked because of the beneficial results it engendered in part of the disinfection, of anesthesia and the healing of wounds of war.
During In World War II, the soviet clinics routinely used it with success.
Then, without had been continued, the use of propolis has since lasted thousands of years. That is the reason why today this product arouses such an important curiosity in the scientific community that is working since the 1970s to demonstrate and reveal the secrets of a substance that continues and will not cease to amaze us.
Current practices in human medicine were handed down today. Research and numerous studies have been conducted over the past thirty years and more than satisfactory results have attracted the interest of science.
Are there any scientific studies on the effectiveness of propolis?
There are many scientific studies on the potential benefits of propolis in various fields. Here are some of the main scientific studies on the benefits of propolis:
- ACTIFS ET ADDITIFS EN COSMÉTOLOGIE – Martini Marie-Claude; Seiller Monique; 2e éd. Paris: Tec & Doc-Lavoisier; 1999
- GUIDE PRATIQUE DE L’APICULTURE – Editions de l’O.P.I.D.A; centre apicole F61370 ECHAUFFOUR Bull. Tech. Api., 1996, 23 (1), 93, 39 F. Jéanne
- PHARMACOGNOSIE, PHYTOCHIMIE PLANTES MÉDICINALES – Jean Bruneton; 2ème édition; Editions Tec & Doc; 1995 pages 265-266 et 211; 915 pages
- PHARMACOGNOSIE, PHYTOCHIMIE PLANTES MÉDICINALES – Jean Bruneton; 3ème édition; Editions Tech & Doc; pages 365 à 366, 1999
- LEXIQUE DES COMPLÉMENTS ALIMENTAIRES – Darguère JM; Editions Dangles; France; 2000
- LA PROPOLIS – Donadieu Y.; 4ème Edition; Les thérapeutiques naturelles; France; 1997
- LES PRODUITS DE LA RUCHE. LE MIEL, LA CIRE, LA PROPOLIS – Caillas A.; Chez l’auteur, 2, rue Saint-Gilles, 78 – Bois d’Arcy, 3e édition, 1947
- LE RUCHER DE RAPPORT. LES PRODUITS DE LA RUCHE – Chez l’auteur, 5e édition, 1963
- QUELQUES DONNÉES HISTORIQUES SUR L’EMPLOI DE LA PROPOLIS – Makachvili Z.A.
- DÉFENSE DE LA VILLE DES ABEILLES – NIKOLAEV A.B.
- SUR LA PROPOLIS, SES EMPLOIS DANS LA RUCHE – MORSE, G.D.
- ANALYSE ET CRITIQUE DES THÉORIES SUR LA FORMATION DE LA PROPOLIS – CISMARIK J., MACICKA M., MATEL I
- INFLUENCE DE LA PROPOLIS SUR DIFFÉRENTS PROCESSUS BIOLOGIQUES
- ACTION ADJUVANTE DE LA PROPOLIS EMPLOYÉE POUR L’IMMUNISATION AVEC L’ANATOXINE TÉTANIQUE – KIVALKINA, V. P., BOUDARKOVA, E.L.
- L’ACTION PLASMOCYTIQUE CHEZ LES SOURIS BLANCHES IMMUNISÉES À L’AIDE DE LA PROPOLIS – KIVALKINA, V.P, BALALIKINA, A.I., PIONTKOVSKI, V.1
- INFLUENCE DE LA PROPOLIS SUR LA MOTILITÉ DES SPERMATOZOÏDES DE FAUX-BOURDONS IN VITRO – HARAGSIM, 0., VESELY, V.
- ALLERGIES PROVOQUÉES PAR LA PROPOLIS – ARTOMASOVA, A.V.
- RÉSULTATS EXPÉRIMENTAUX ET CLINIQUES DANS LE TRAITEMENT DES BLESSURES CHEZ LES ANIMAUX DOMESTIQUES PAR APPLICATION LOCALE D’UNE SOLUTION ALCOOLIQUE DE PROPOLIS – SUTA, J., JANDA, J. TKAK, J. HANKO, J.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Come and visit La Miellerie du Salagou
Near Lake Salagou in Occitanie, stop off to discover the world of bees and the virtues of propolis in particular!
You’ll also have the opportunity to taste a wide range of honeys and discover their diversity!