Around 20 BC, the Roman poet Virgil wrote in the 4th book of his doctrinal poem "Georgica": "You put tear dew of daffodil and glue the bark for the honeycomb as a first reason". The adhesive of the bark is resin that the bees make from the resinous components of the buds of trees. Like human craftsmen, they use it to seal joints and cracks. Each broodmare is covered with a thin film of propolis, so that no germs can destroy the brood. Interesting for medicine are the individual substances of propolis. It is said to have an effect comparable to antibiotics.
The word Propolis comes from the Greek (pro -, for, polis - city) and means something like "before the city" or "for the city". The resin produced by the bees themselves keeps viruses, fungi and bacteria out of the hive. Bees collect resin from conifers or tree buds and stow the resinous wax in their pollen baskets. In the floor they mix it with wax and pollen. This disinfects the interiors of their canes and seals off smaller cracks.
Effect of propolis
Propolis has a pronounced antibiotic and also antiviral and antifungal effect. It is considered the strongest natural antibiotic. Occasionally, beekeepers are surprised that they find a mouse mummified with propolis in the hive: The intruder was stung to death, but the bees can not remove it. So that he does not decompose and contaminates the stick with bacteria, they coat him with a film of propolis. The Egyptians also used this technique - they mummified their bodies with resin or with propolis.
Application as antibacterial multi-purpose agent
Several thousand years ago, the antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial effects of propolis were known in humans. The Greek Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC) referred already in ancient times on the effect of propolis for ulcers on the skin and the gastrointestinal tract.
Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) prized the curative properties of propolis especially in bruises, skin diseases and purulent wounds. The Roman Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 - 79 AD) wrote about the effect of propolis from the bee colony. The Incas used propolis in febrile infections. The Roman military doctors needed it as a wound disinfectant, and even in World War II it was used for it in Russia.
Today, scientists worldwide are working on the medical characteristics of this building material of bees: Propolis actually strengthens the immune system, has an anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes and skin diseases.
Propolis: application in cancer?
Animal studies have been running for decades to test isolated propolis ingredients on tumor cells. The focus here is on the active ingredient caffeic acid-phenethyl ester, which can inhibit gene-regulated chemotherapy resistance in cell cultures.
In clinical trials, however, neither those esters nor other substances from propolis have been able to assert themselves as a therapy against cancer.
Often there is also talk about a supportive effect of propolis for patients with radiation-related mucositis. But here, too, further research is needed as the data is not clear.