The term propolis (bee glue) is of Greek origin. In translation, it means “protection of the city" – that has a relation to the complex hierarchy colony in the hive.

Bee propolis is a resin-like substance with proven antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

With its bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-radiation activity propolis is the main factor that hinders the development of diseases in one hive.

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What Is Propolis

The term propolis (bee glue) is of Greek origin. In translation, it means “protection of the city" – that has a relation to the complex hierarchy colony in the hive. Propolis is a resin-like substance with proven antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

The bees collect propolis and use it as a building material and for the disinfection of their hive. On average one bee family gathers annually from 100 to 300 g propolis. The breed of bees, geography, climatic conditions, plant species on the bees’ territory also matter for the quantity of propolis.

Bees collect propolis from plants - the most common sources of propolis are poplar, willow, horse chestnut, buckwheat, and others. The whole hive is covered with propolis, including the bees themselves. Thus they protect each other from harmful microorganisms.

The polishing of the walls of the cells with propolis leads to an increase in their physical stability. The airflow is restricted in the hive in cold weather, thus its role as thermal insulation. 

With its bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-radiation activity propolis is the main factor that hinders the development of diseases in one hive.

On average the hive has a volume of about 50 liters and is inhabited by 40,000 to 60,000 bees, the humidity is around 70%, the temperature is 37-38 °C, the sugar content is high - this is the ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and molds.

Physical Properties of Bee Propolis

Propolis is a resinous substance with a brilliant dark yellow to brown color. When it is freshly taken from the hive, propolis is a soft, sticky mass. The flavor and physical and chemical properties depend mainly on the type of plants within a radius of the bees.

Propolis has a pleasant aroma of herbal buds, honey, and wax, slightly bitter and peppery taste and it darkens with long-term storage. When burnt, it emits a pleasant odor of resin. When warmed, it quickly softens and becomes convenient for processing. 

At room temperature, it solidifies, while with lower temperature it becomes brittle. It has a density between 1,112 and 1,136, no definite melting point, but usually, it melts between 80-105 °C.

It dissolves poorly in cold water, while in hot water - 7 to 11%. In ethyl alcohol, it dissolves 50-75%. Its main ballast ingredient in various resins, gums, and waxes.

Propolis contains many flavonoids, as in tea and wine, antioxidant substances, organic acids, and their esters, phenols, aldehydes, vitamins, minerals, herbal essences.

Chemical Composition of Propolis

Propolis has a complex chemical composition, which is still controversial.

It contains resins, waxes, ethereal oils, pollen, tannins, mechanical impurities, glycosides, flavonoids, organic acids, aldehydes, esters, alcohols, terpenes, amino acids, hydrocarbons, free fatty acids, alcohols, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, a plurality of trace elements.

Propolis also contains:

  • Approximately 55% resins, which include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and ethers;
  • Waxes and fatty acids: 25-35% of plant and bee origin;
  • Essential oils - 10%;
  • Pollen - 5%, including proteins (probably from pollen) and free amino acids - 16;
  • Arginine + proline to 45.8%;
  • Tannins, 14 trace minerals - especially iron and zinc;
  • Vitamins - only C3;
  • Mechanical impurities and others - a total of 5%.

Methods of Collecting Propolis From the Hive

Most often propolis is collected by scraping the upper surface of the bars or the walls of the hive with a lifter, and loose balls are formed, which are placed in cellophane or plastic bags. 

Then they are put in a refrigerator. It is possible some special nets or grids to be put on the bars, whose openings should not exceed 5 mm and which are clogged with propolis by the bees.

Then these nets and grids were placed in a refrigerator. At low temperatures, propolis becomes brittle and is easily removed from them. It can be diluted with rubbing alcohol. Usually, a 30% tincture is made.

What Is the Propolis Tincture

The propolis tincture is propolis is ethanol. It can be used internally and externally.

Depending on its intended use, there are different percentages: 2%, 4% in dentistry, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30% for internal and external use.

It is best to prepare a 30% solution, which can be easily diluted for the preparation of all the other concentrations.

How to Make 30% Alcohol Solution of Propolis

For practical purposes, the propolis tincture can be 20-30%. It is prepared in the following manner: 100 g. purified and powdered propolis is placed in a flask, and gradually 500 ml of 96ᵒC medical alcohol is added to it.

Shake for 30 min. Within 5-7 days the mixture should be stirred 1-2 times daily. There is sediment at the bottom of the flask, which needs to be filtered.

The ready solution has to be stored in a dark place at room temperature, and the shelf life is three years.

Healing Properties of the Propolis Tincture

There is a lot known about the antimicrobial properties of propolis:

  • It has expressed a bactericidal and bacteriostatic effect against many pathogenic bacteria. Stored under normal conditions, the propolis extract and the alcohol extract keep their antibacterial activity for 3-4 years. The antibacterial substances are thermostable and virtually resistant to high temperatures.
  • The antifungal effect of propolis is very strong to many of the causes of many diseases of the skin and body parts. Especially pronounced is its action against fungal diseases of the oral cavity, the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. The effective concentration, in this case, is 0.01%.
  • The antiviral effect of propolis is proven regarding influenza and herpes viruses;
  • The antiprotozoal (antiparasitic) properties of the alcoholic solutions of propolis are kept to 0.25% alcohol. In aqueous solutions, this percentage is 4%;
  • Analgesic effect - Propolis acts as an analgesic even in low concentrations of 0.25% alcohol solution. The effect occurs 5-10 min. After application and lasts for about 1 hour;
  • Anti-itching effect;
  • Anti-inflammatory effect – it accelerates the healing of wounds, particularly heavy decubitus wounds after surgical treatment. A rapid clearance occurs with reduction of the exudation, formation of mature connective tissue in place of the necrotic tissue;
  • Treatment of burns, abscesses, furuncles;
  • Enhances the appetite;
  • Hypotensive action – lowers the blood pressure;
  • Anti sclerosis effect;
  • Anabolic effects;
  • For treating paradentosis, gingivitis and other pathological conditions in the oral cavity;
  • Immunostimulatory effect;
  • Antispasmodic effect;
  • Antioxidant activity;
  • Anti-tumor activity;
  • Radiation protection activity;
  • Detoxifying activity.

In each area, propolis is different depending on the prevailing vegetation, yet the main healing properties of propolis are distinguished negligible in the different species.

Propolis is taken in the form of elixirs, tablets, granules, syrups, aerosols, sprays, creams.

Dosage of the Propolis Tincture

Usually, adults are recommended a prophylactic dose once a day of 30 drops of 30% alcohol solution (propolis tincture), dissolved in a glass of lukewarm water half an hour before meals.

With a curative intent that amount can be taken 2-3 times a day. For children ⅕ to ½ of the dose given to adults is appropriate, depending on the disease. The recommended daily intake of the drops should be equal to the years of the child, also in a glass of lukewarm water or juice.

The intake should be before food. For a curative intent, the dose can be given 2-3 times daily. The aqueous solution of propolis is recommended for children, due to the absence of alcohol in it. 

100 grams of fresh and powdered propolis is added to 100 ml of distilled water. Mix and place that in a water bath for several hours. Filter. It should be applied as the alcohol extract of propolis. Store in dark places. Shelf life - 3 years.

Recommendations for the Use of Bee Propolis Tincture

One must approach the product carefully and responsibly at its first intake. Propolis tincture should not be recommended as a safe product. It is possible in some cases to provoke milder or more severe allergic reactions, especially in children. 

The product is not recommended for children under three years of age. You should always start with the external application of propolis – smear a limited area of the skin with a 30% alcohol solution on the inner side of the left hand.

If within 24 hours there is no observed redness, swelling and other signs of an allergic reaction, you can proceed to the treatment. Smear a little area of the gum with 30% alcohol solution of propolis, if the case is the treatment of paradentosis and gingivitis.

If within 24 hours there are no allergic reactions, proceed to the treatment. A drop of 30% alcohol solution of propolis tincture is dissolved in a glass of water. Stir and drink that. 

If within 24 hours there are no allergic reactions, the drops may be increased to reach the recommended dosage. With internal intake, the allergic manifestations may be more severe and generalized. 

Again, there are allergic rashes accompanied by itching, blood pressure falling, while the more pronounced effects can lead to allergic shock.

External Application of the Propolis Tincture

The external application of the alcoholic solution of propolis is suitable for diseases of the oral cavity - cold sores, mouth ulcers, gingivitis, periodontal disease, glossitis, stomatitis (including radiation stomatitis), tonsillitis, sore throat.

The effect of the external application is remarkable in diseases of the skin - superficial injury, acne, pustules, rhagades, herpes. The local changes on the skin or in the mouth can be treated with a swab with a 30% propolis tincture.

Gargles can be made with 2-4% water-alcohol propolis emulsion.

  • 2% emulsion is prepared this way: 1 ml of 30% alcohol solution is added to 14 ml of water. This is approximately 1 tbsp.
  • 4% solution is prepared by 1 ml of 30% solution added to 7-8 ml of water.

Internal Application of the Propolis Tincture

The determined dose of propolis tincture drops is dropped in a glass of lukewarm water and drink at once. 

The intake is recommended to be 20-30 minutes before eating.

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