I was listening to an amazing podcast recently that shed light on propolis, which is a compound produced by bees from the sap of certain trees. Bees combine the sap with their own discharge and beeswax to create propolis to build their hives.
The use of propolis started thousands of years ago with the Greeks who used it to treat abscesses, Assyrians who used it to fight infected wounds, and Egyptians who used it to embalm mummies. Today, it's still regarded as "nature's antibiotic" due to its high polyphenol content, which are antioxidants that fight disease and damage in the body. Specifically, propolis contains flavonoids, a type of polyphenol that occurs naturally in plants as a form of protection.
The research on propolis is limited but for the research that has been done, propolis has proven to have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has shown to keep cancer cells from multiplying, reduce the recovery time of cold sores, reduce inflammation and swelling more affectively than steroid cream, and help traumatic burns heal faster. (1,2,3,4).
As many of you know, I'm a firm believer in nature as medicine. If I can't heal something naturally first, then I look to western medicine. Most of the time, the natural healing methods I come across are plant derived, so I rarely come across instances where I'm in conflict with my moral beliefs: not using animal derived products for healing or really anything for that matter. That being said, over the past year I've had to make compromises for my health, such as adding eggs and fish back in to my diet occasionally to help my thyroid now that I am off synthetic thyroid hormones. I only make sure to consume pasture-raised, humane certified and organic eggs, and I will only eat wild-caught fish. Some might call it picky, I call it consciousness. I'm predominantly plant-based, eating plants 90% of the week and eggs and fish 2-3 times a week at most.
My point is, normally I would not write about using animal derived products for any matter, but I like to make sure the information I provide you guys is well rounded and all encompassing. If I can find a humane certified way of using an animal product, and I weigh it against the risks of using the alternative western medicine counterpart (antibiotics, in this case), then I will sure as heck let you know about it. I've had a terrible bout with antibiotics myself. I also studied the effects of antibiotics on your gut and brain health for a year during my undergrad at USC. I know how harmful antibiotics can be to your microbiome, and in turn can affect your mental health in numerous forms. So yes, do I recommend using an animal derived product (although not directly from a bee body, taking propolis is taking their hard work and giving them less of what they need to make their hives)? Yes. Do I recommend looking into the brand you purchase and making sure it is certified humane and sustainable prior to purchase? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Luckily, I first heard of propolis through a humane and sustainable beekeeper, Catie Stein, via a podcast. Her company, Beekeeper's Naturals, provides the market with high-quality beehive products without compromising the health or the bees or the sustainability of the planet. They never over-harvest, they make sure the bees pollinate in safe locations and always have an abundance of their own materials to keep doing what they do best, beein' bees. (Sorry, I had to.)
I've yet to find another sustainable and humane bee company like Beekeeper's Naturals, but if you know of one (and you have faith in their standards) please let me know! I'm always looking for more brands to believe in. Since hearing about propolis and doing a bit of research, I've invested in the Propolis Spray (see below under "My Amazon Picks") by Beekeeper's Naturals and have recommended it to clients who have a history with strep throat; and I will likely recommend it to more people as cold and flu season comes around. The bottom line is: always do your research, know your source, and be open to change.
*This post has no affiliation with any of the brands mentioned in this post, nor do I receive any compensation for any of your purchases of the brands mentioned. I do, however, receive compensation if you click on any of the adds throughout the post. That would be great. Help a gal pay rent. It's me, I'm the gal. Lots of love :)