Another reason to save the bees!
First things first: Propolis does not equal bee propolis. Damaged trees excrete propolis, a resin, to fight infection—but it’s difficult to extract the resin in its raw form. Luckily, bees collect the resin and turn it into bee propolis (a mix of saliva, beeswax, and sap). Often nicknamed ‘bee glue’, the gummy substance is used by bees to construct their hives or seal any cracks.
Before you pass it off as nature’s all-natural cement, remember that the antibacterial properties of the propolis also protect the hive from illnesses. A 2017 review of bee propolis found the ingestible substance not only offered antibacterial benefits, but also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal. No wonder the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used bee propolis to heal wounds.
These protective benefits extend to humans when ingested or applied topically, according to board-certified naturopathic doctor Maura Henninger. “It’s chock full of polyphenols, flavonoids, amino acids, and natural steroids as well as being high in protein and B vitamins,” Henninger told Health. She recommends it for healing minor wounds, or for a simple immunity boost.
Because bees collect resin from a variety of different trees based on their region, there’s a slight inconsistency to bee propolis that makes the substance difficult to study—so science is still working to uncover the full potential of propolis. And while the benefits are not all medically-proven—similar to any supplement or homeopathic remedy on the market—it can still be a great addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any type of new supplement.)
After getting your doctor’s approval, Henninger recommends using the spray as an extra immunity booster “in times of stress or lack of sleep, or if you have a cold or flu coming on.” Plus, because of its potent antibacterial and antioxidant activity, she also calls bee propolis a great choice for helping the immune system to battle viruses that can lead to sore throats. She personally prefers to get her daily dose of propolis through local, organic raw bee pollen pellets.
If you’re ready to start incorporating a bee propolis spray into your daily routine, we collected four super popular picks from around the web—so you can start tackling sore throats with an easy, at-home remedy.