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Bee Propolis: From Greece, An Unexpected Promising Cure

brown and black bees

Bee Propolis The Cure

A Gift from Ancient Greece

Bee propolis the cure, like other traditional remedies, hasn’t been studied extensively. Not much profit is possible from patenting a cure Hippocrates used. It’s mysterious, but the potential for propolis is enormous.

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

After sailing and swimming with friends in the Aegean, we ate like royalty on Simi Island. Lots of great food, lots of local wine.

Then, we ferried back to Rhodes, making a last stop for the day at a Bee Museum in Pastida.

yellow bumblebee gathering pollen close up photography
Photo by Kat Smith on

Bees were the last thing on my mind. Exhausted, I wanted to crash somewhere, anywhere.

While the rest of the gang shopped for honey products in the gift shop, I idled, but I joined in for photographs. The owner surprised us with generous gift bags.

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Honey isn’t a big favorite in our house, too sweet, but back home on Roosevelt Island in New York, a week later, I found something else in the bag.

A tincture of propolis in a small bottle

Propolis means “before the city.” Some take that to mean “suburbs.” For others, it means the city’s protector.

Propolis is a complex resin filling in small gaps in bee hives, stabilizing the structure. Beeswax fills larger gaps.

But within the hives and after humans started using it, its effectiveness kept it in continuous use for centuries.

Hippocrates used bee propolis to heal wounds, including internal injuries.

Also, according to an article from the Save Institute, “…it’s been used to fight tuberculosis, colitis, viruses (including the flu virus), and even acne.”

Propolis prevents diseases and blocks parasites in bee hives. This shows its ability to combat bacterial and fungal growth.

The implications for humans have intrigued scientists. Can bee propolis cure certain cancers, as some hope? O herpes?

But studies have not been large or complex enough for reliable results.

Money is hard to get for studies without a predictable profit, hopefully a big profit.

Empirical Evidence

My wife and I were open to propolis because of something that happened with our aging cat Billy, a few years before.

Internal bleeding threatened his. No cause was found, and none of the standard medicines worked. Regular (and expensive) transfusions kept him going.

Then, a doctor at New York’s Animal Medical Center suggested a Chinese herbal medicine, Yunnan Baiyao. Dr. Kahn cautioned that it was not a miracle cure. A folk medicine for centuries, it was effective against internal bleeding, although nobody knew why or how.

AMC is the finest veterinary practice in New York. So, nothing to lose and a life to be saved, why not?

Soon after starting treatments with Yunnan Baiyao, Billy’s blood loss stopped.

The logic was easy to follow…

Propolis has also been successful in treating people but for many centuries longer.

There is no known downside, except for reactions for people with “allergic or hypersensitivity to bee stings or bee products.” That we learned from folk medicine pioneer Andrew Weill, M.D., in our research.

Without knowing even that much, I opened my free bottle of propolis and spread a few drops on a chronic rash on my left arm, just above my elbow.

Nothing else worked against the sensitivity or the itch, but after applying propolis, it was gone in three days. I tried another smaller spot on my other elbow. My wife used it to calm a burn.

Propolis was as effective as any other medicine on the burn and better than anything else on that rash.

Will Propolis Cure Cancer or Herpes?

 Of course not, but people are excited about a range of useful possibilities.

But I agree with Dr. Weill: “A number of studies have tested its effectiveness in humans and animals as a treatment for burns, minor wounds, infections, inflammatory diseases, dental pain, and genital herpes. While promising, the results of these studies are preliminary.”

Read the full article here.

Without more and better studies, he adds, “propolis does have proven antibiotic and antiseptic properties and may also have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. I consider it safe and useful as a home remedy.”

In addition, Dr. Seema Patel, Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, San Diego State University, found laboratory and animal studies suggesting that propolis may help treat at least ten cancers.

The article, published in Green Med Info — read it here — discusses why it works and reports other benefits of propolis.

Bee propolis the cure: Be Cautious

If you’re like me, you’re skeptical about medical dogma. For reasons better left to another article, I do my own research. But my skepticism might make alternatives appear more effective than they should.

Skepticism needs balance in all directions.

But experience tells us that the official story is sometimes wrong.

High carb, low fat diets, for example, once foundations of the establishment prescription for a health and weight control, are now credited with contributing mightily to the obesity epidemic.

A wise consumer does her own research. Well informed, as propolis prove, is well armed.

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