I think propolis is the most underrated product of the hive. Bee stings can be a wonderful therapy for autoimmune disorders while honey and pollen are wholesome foods with strong and vocal advocates. Meanwhile, I think that royal jelly is much over-rated – it does not extend human longevity and it can only be produced by murdering future queens.
That leaves propolis, the underrated sibling of hive products. I have seen it cure mouth sores, skin disorders, and reduce the annoyances of colds.
Honey bees gather propolis resin from the buds of poplars and coniferous trees. Honey bees gather the tacky stuff to seal cracks and holes in their hive, especially in preparation for winter. Greeks named it ‘propolis’ as they noticed that it was found ‘pro’ (before) a ‘polis’ (city) of bees. But bees may also smear a thin veneer of propolis over foreign intruders inside the hive. If, or example, a grasshopper enters the hive, dies, and can’t be removed, bees entomb the dead body in propolis, which limits the spread of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Propolis has strong antibiotic properties, so it’s not surprising that scientists have tested its efficacy against Covid-19. A January 2021 paper – not yet peer-reviewed – reports the results of treating three randomized groups of 120 hospitalized patients: using a placebo, a 400-mg/day dose, and an 800-mg dose/day of propolis. There was little difference between the propolis dosage levels tested, but both significantly outperformed the placebo. People treated with propolis recovered and left the hospital several days earlier. Here’s the paper’s abstract, published January 8, 2021:
Among candidate treatment options for COVID-19, propolis, produced by honey bees from bioactive plant exudates, has shown potential against viral targets and has demonstrated immunoregulatory properties. We conducted a randomized, controlled, open-label, single center trial, with a standardized propolis product (EPP-AF) on hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients.
Patients received standard care plus propolis at an oral dose of 400mg/day (n=40) or 800mg/day (n=42) for seven days, or standard care alone (n=42). Standard care included all necessary interventions, as determined by the attending physician. The primary end point was the time to clinical improvement defined as the length of hospital stay or oxygen therapy dependency. Secondary outcomes included acute kidney injury and need for intensive care or vasoactive drugs.
Time in the hospital after intervention was significantly shortened in both propolis groups compared to the controls; median 7 days with 400mg/day and 6 days with 800mg/day, versus 12 days for standard care alone. Propolis did not significantly affect the need for oxygen supplementation. With the higher dose, significantly fewer patients developed acute kidney injury than in the controls (2 versus 10 of 42 patients). Propolis as an adjunct treatment was safe and reduced hospitalization time. The registration number for this clinical trial is: NCT04480593 (20/07/2020).
Although the paper is not peer reviewed, it’s worth a view and may be solid. One of the authors is David De Jong, whom I respect. The paper will likely be peer-reviewed, but that could take months. Promulgating potential treatments now seems reasonable – especially when the curative agent has been used for generations to reduce cold and flu effects.