PROPOLIS

Propolis 

Common Names: Propolis, Beehive Resin, Bee Glue
Part/s Used: Resin  
Energetics: Warming
Taste: Sweet, pungent, acrid, bitter 
Actions: Antibacterial, anti fungal, immunostimulant, expectorant, local anesthetic, vulnerary, inflammation modulating   
Constituents: Resins, waxes, essential oils, pollen

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture (ratio & % alcohol):  Resin 1:5 95% 
Drops: 10-90 in water  Times a day: up to 4x

Habitat and Botanical Description:  

Propolis is a highly aromatic, rich, dark and sticky resin is made from the honeybees using buds of poplar, conifer trees, beeswax, botanical sources and other bee secretions. The composition of propolis can vary depending on the environment and harvested resources. Bees make propolis and use it to build hives, reduce vibration, as an adhesive to seal openings, prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive, inhibit fungal and bacteria growth and embalm dead invaders. Normally propolis is brown in color but it can be found in green, red, black and white depending on the sources of the resin. The medicinal use of bee products is called apitherapy.  

Medicinal Uses:

A warming, spicy, aromatic expectorant used at the first signs of a cold/flu accompanied by a damp cough. When the person has low energy and there is mucus accumulating and not enough vital force to cough the mucus up. The volatile oils in propolis are considered an irritating expectorant to help stimulate movement by penetrating, dispersing and breaking the mucus up. Great for upper and lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Propolis can be used with other resinous herbs for a dry, scratchy sore throat but be sure to combine with moistening herbs like licorice root to cool the formula.  People who have inflammation from laryngitis or inflammation from overuse like public speakers and singers can use propolis as an anti inflammatory. Its antitussive actions are good for asthmatics, acute asthma attacks and wheezing as it deepens respiration. Propolis can be used a mouthwash reducing pain from abscesses, canker sores and cold sores.  

External Use: Topical anti-inflammatory and disinfectant.  Seals wounds, coats broken skin (cover, can be sticky) and a mild anti-fungal that kills microbes from staph infections and infected wounds. 

Harvesting: 

Bee propolis can be collected by catching the hive scraping when cleaning out the honey supers or during honey harvest. Autumn is peak time for propolis production (honeybees begin preparing hives in anticipation of winter) but you can also use propolis traps for year around collection.  Once the propolis trap is filled, put it in the freezer for a few hours.  Once frozen, the propolis breaks like glass.  Collect the shards immediately for processing. Use a food grade alcohol that is at least 130 proof or 65% alcohol. Once the extract is ready, strain using a very fine strainer. The finished product should be free of particles and dark in color.

Contraindications:

Do not use if you have bee allergies. Propolis contains chemicals that can worsen asthma and should consult with a health care provider before using.  Propolis may interact with other antimicrobials. In some individuals the resins in propolis can cause dull ache, irritating the kidneys. Use throat spray or minimal amounts of propolis for individuals with weak or compromised kidneys.

Recommended Products: 

 

Sources:
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos 
Beginning Beekeeping HSU Class Notes By Garrett Brinton
Advanced Beekeeping Class Notes By Dick LaForge

Disclosure: This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.