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What is Raw Propolis?

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  • Written By: S. Williams
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Raw propolis is a natural product made by honeybees. The bees gather resin from flowers and leaf buds to carry back to the hive, where it is mixed with beeswax to create propolis. The worker bees use the sticky substance to repair the beehive and to line and seal brood combs. The raw propolis has antifungal and antibacterial properties that serve to protect the health of the entire colony. Bee propolis will kill the Bacillus larvae bacteria that causes American foul brood, a major threat to honeybees.

Depending on the plants and trees in the area surrounding a beehive, propolis can have a different appearance and composition. Raw propolis usually ranges from yellow to dark brown, but clear propolis also has been seen. When analyzed, raw propolis is a complex combination of as many as 180 different compounds created from the materials collected by the honeybees. The raw materials are further transformed by the bee's saliva as they are harvested, carried back to the hive and mixed with beeswax.

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Scientific studies have shown that propolis is effective against many common types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. In a refined form, bee propolis is used in cosmetics, medicines, wound treatment and food preservatives. Historically, propolis also has been used in wood preservatives and varnishes. In contrast to the refined product, raw propolis is unprocessed and typically is consumed in chunks or ground into a fine powder. It can cause stomach upset and potential allergic reactions, so raw propolis should be taken only in small quantities when used as a nutritional supplement.

Raw propolis is a whole product that hasn't undergone any additional processing, but a propolis extract is created when the substance is put through a chemical process to separate specific compounds from the other ingredients. The extraction process is an attempt to isolate the materials that are thought to be most beneficial, such as flavenoids and phenolics. Pharmaceutical companies are the primary user of propolis extracts. When dissolved in alcohol, a propolis tincture is formed that is claimed to have additional medicinal properties.

When used as a dietary supplement, it generally is recommended to take 250 milligrams of raw propolis a day. People who are allergic to bee stings should not use propolis in any form. In addition to capsules for daily intake, propolis lozenges are used as a remedy for sore throats. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not instituted guidelines for propolis use.

Many products claim to include organic propolis. The organic designation doesn't apply to the propolis-derived portion of the substance. Honeybees roam freely and will gather substances from both organic and non-organic areas.

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burcidi
Post 3

@fBoyle-- Why don't you try raw propolis in honey? I think this type of propolis is more effective and you can decide on the dose. If you buy capsules, you can't split the dose. You can also get other bee supplements this way, like royal jelly honey or royal jelly, propolis and honey together.

I eat honey with raw propolis for my acne. It has only been a week, but I'm already seeing a difference. It's great stuff.

burcinc
Post 2

@fBoyle-- I'm not a doctor, so I wouldn't want to mislead you. I have taken a propolis supplement which was 500mg without problems, so I think that this is a safe amount for most people. However, you should not take propolis if you are allergic or sensitive to bee products like honey.

The biggest issue with propolis supplements is that many claim to be natural, raw or unprocessed, but a few really are. So aside from the dose, I urge you to pay attention the ingredients and how the propolis was obtained. Just because it says "unprocessed" or "raw" on the label doesn't mean that it is. Many small farms sell bee products nowadays and none of it is regulated, so it's easy for bad quality products to end up on shelves and at online stores.

It's a good idea to read customer reviews of these supplements before buying them.

fBoyle
Post 1

Most of the raw propolis capsule supplements I've seen are in 500mg or 1000mg doses. I've even seen one that was 1500mg per capsule. I have a hard time finding it in lower doses. Is it okay if I take a 500mg capsule or will that be too much? I'm guessing it's okay because many people use it this way.

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