What is Propolis?
Propolis - The tear of the trees
Throughout history, man learned to use natural products in medicine. One of the most natural products used for centuries by mankind has been given propolis in different ways. In ancient Egypt (1700 BC) was used to embalm the dead.
The Aristotle (384a.C. ~ 322a.C.), renowned philosopher of ancient Greece, in his book "Animal Book" describes the propolis as follows:
Plinio (23d.C ~ 79d.C.), known as the Elder, admiral and historian of ancient Rome, in his "Naturalis Historia", the largest encyclopedia of the ancient world with a vast compendium of ancient science, refers to Propolis as a drug to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
There were still records of its use in Assyria, ancient Egypt, for treatment of infections and swelling, and also to accelerate the growth of hair. And there are reports that in ancient Rome, soldiers carried the Propolis and emergency medicine to treat wounds and relieve pain in time to remove arrows and thorns embedded. In the empire of the Incas, the propolis was known as a medicine effective against inflammation and fever.
All these reports demonstrate that propolis has come to be used for the benefit of human health for centuries.
The defense of the hive
There are two versions to explain the origin of the word propolis. The first, of Greek origin, due to the merging of the word "pro" meaning "in favor of" or "defense" and the word "polis" which means "city". Therefore, according to this version, Propolis means "to defend the city”, realizing that the city is a hive of bees. The second version, which also results from the junction of his words, originates from the word "propo" from Latin, meaning "structure" plus the Greek word "polis". Thus, in this version the word Propolis acquires the meaning of "structure of the city."
Bees use propolis in the region near the entrance of the hive, to close gaps and cavities, not only to protect themselves from the weather as well as insects and invading microorganisms.
In addition to this protection against external agents, Propolis also has a disinfectant effect. Propolis is found in various parts of the hive, but it is the entry that focuses on larger quantity. When the bees return to the hive and they go through this protected entry with Propolis, their body is sterilized to ensure the hygiene of the hive, making their internal environment safe from viruses and bacteria, in joint action with Propolis deposited in other parts of the hive.
The insects that may invade the hive despite virus protection are immediately stung and killed, and stuffed with Propolis, thus avoiding the decomposition of bodies and the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms in the hive.
Propolis is also used to maintain stable temperature inside the hives.
The composition of propolis is listed below:
How is Propolis collected?
Propolis is made from products of metabolism of bees (wax) and resin plants (flavonoids, phenolic acids, etc.), materials that have been introduced during the preparation of propolis collected and substances that have suffered some kind of change in structure by some enzymes present in the saliva of bees.
The bees are attracted by collecting gems of plants that grow on the branches and, with their hind legs and mouth parts break pieces of resin. These resins are moistened with the tongue, forming small balls with the mandibles. These balls are transferred from the jaw to the pollen basket (above the hind leg). When the pollen basket is fully taken, the bees finally deposit the resin in the hive. While the bees deposit the resin in the pollen basket, they may also be preparing Propolis with the jaw.
The natural antibiotic
Due to its strong antimicrobial activity, Propolis is known as "natural antibiotic". Several studies conducted to show that propolis has great effectiveness against microorganisms.
The therapeutic effects of propolis have been attributed to several phenolic compounds, which are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. Of these, the flavonoids are the key and there are still phenolic acids and their esters, phenolic aldehydes, alcohols, amino acids, steroids, sugars, etc.
Propolis has at least 38 types of flavonoids such as Artepillin-C, apigenin, acacetin, galangin, kaempferol, luteolin, quercetin, pinocembrine, chrysin and many others. And most of them have antimicrobial activity. The flavonoids also help in the absorption and retention of vitamin C in the body, protecting it from destruction and increasing its effect on the body.
Propolis also shows the presence of phenolics and ferulic acid, cinnamic acid, and caffeic acid; substances that are beneficial to health.
It also highlights the presence of terpenoids that have the physiological action against microorganisms reported in several scientific papers.
Green Propolis and Artepillin-C
The Brazilian propolis is considered the best in the world due to the junction of two factors: the genetics of Brazilian bee with the diversity of national flora. Green Propolis, one that contains artepillin-C (a powerful flavonoid), comes from Rosemary (Baccharis dracunculifolia) a typical plant of the Brazilian vegetation. The Brazilian bee has a high capacity for this type of bee activity because it is the result of crossing the African species with the European species.
The Brazilian propolis has a chemical composition quite distinct from other propolis of the rest of the world. This is linked to its botanical origin and species of bee that produce it. The Brazilian propolis originated from the plant called Baccharis dracunculifolia, also known as rosemary-of-field, representing the typical Brazilian specie that can not survive in any other country, is internationally recognized as the best propolis in the world. This is because only the green propolis contains an important phenolic acid called Artepillin-C (3.5-cinnamic acid-4-hydroxycinnamic), chemical compound originally isolated from green propolis.