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Propolis and the bee hive defense

Propolis is a complex compound of substances collected by worker bees, processed and laid down inside the hive, in order to sealing and offer a mechanical and chemical protection.

Its name comes from the Greek ‘pro’ – which means ‘in defense of’ or ‘in favor of’ – and ‘polis’ – which means comunity (Pereira et al., 2002). Extracted and processed in form of propolis extract, it contains vitamins, phenolic compounds, fatty acids and 5% of pollen (Burdock, 1998).

The propolis is used by popular medicine since 300 b.C. (Silva et al., 2006), and its use has been disseminated by the end of the 20th century, during the WW2, when it was used as a cicatrizant in several hospital which provide care to wounded soldiers and people (Pereira et al., 2002). Only by mid-1980, the propolis became an important product for the alternative medicine, being discovered and researched in Japan, and having Brazil as a global reference as propolis extract producer (Salatino et al., 2005).

The proven benefits from the propolis extract characterize an alternative therapy, considerably effective and acessible. Its phenolic compounds and flavonoids give it a role as natural antibiotic, a powerful antiinflammatory, antibacterian and especially a natural anti-fungus (Soares et al., 2006). Strenghtening the imune system, it also becomes a natural antivirus, fighting viruses like the flu and herpes, as well as reducing the incidence of colds, pneumonias and breathing problems and disorders.

There are some varieties of the propolis extract around the world, and that happens as their chemical characteristics change according to the vegetation of the producing area. The Brazilian propolis is one of the most valuable around the world, given some varieties are only produced in some regions of the country, like the green propolis.

With an antioxydant action and containing vitamin C, the propolis extract acts agains free radicals effects, performing a role as a powerful anti-aging. Its flavonoids and aminoacids guarantee a cicatrizant action. It induces the tissue regeneration and may be used on treating wounds, dermatitis and burns, with a particular remarkable effect against the H. pilori bacillus, the main cause for gastric ulcer and parrticularly sensitive to the propolis. Indicated on treatment and prevention for a serie of diseases, the propolis extract can also be administered as a natural suplement, although the consumption of over 60 drops a day is not recommended.