(NaturalNews) Honeybees are some of the most amazing creatures ever created by nature. They play a vital role in much of the food supply through pollination, and they provide people with a healthy natural alternative to sugar. Some of the most interesting aspects of bees are the substances they make to use themselves. Propolis is a natural resin found in young tree buds. Bees collect it for use as a glue to seal their homes. Propolis is an exceedingly complex product that contains substances that prevent and treat diseases ranging from cancer to the common cold. Recent research has documented the ability of propolis to suppress the growth of human tumors from neurofibromatosis and cancer.
Compound from propolis halts tumor process in clinical trials
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that can produce coffee colored skin patches, but it is best known for producing tumors on nerve tissue including the nerves involved in hearing. Tumors from neurofibromatosis can grow anywhere else in the body including the brain and spinal cord, and if surgically removed, they can return. The condition of neurofibromatosis can be life threatening.
Neurofibromatosis affects one in every 3000 people. The body processes that form neurofibromatosis tumors are responsible for about 70% of human cancers.
Propolis halted neurofibromatosis tumor growth in a group of cancer patients taking part in a study by scientists at Universitaets Klinikum Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. Dysfunction of the NF1 or NF2 gene coding is the major cause of neurofibromatosis. Researchers had previously demonstrated that the human gene PAK1 is essential for the growth of both NF1 and NF2 tumors. Although several attempts have been made to develop anti-PAK1 drugs, none have been successful.
Since bee propolis contains anticancer ingredients caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and artepillin C (ARC), both of which block the oncogenic PAK1 signaling pathways, its potential therapeutic effects on NF tumors were explored in vivo. It was demonstrated that a CAPE-rich extract of propolis mixed with water completely suppressed the growth of human NF1 and caused an almost complete regression of human NF2 (Schwannoma), that had been grafted in mice. The scientists stressed that although CAPE is not used clinically due to its poor bioavailability, it can be made soluble with the addition of lipids (fats). (Phytotherapy Resources, February)
In an earlier study, this German team identified CAPE's anti-cancer abilities. CAPE is a natural compound found in some foods, but is highly concentrated in bee propolis. Previously, propolis had been known only to have anti-cancer function through its profound ability to boost the immune system.
Clinical trials to test the compound on humans are ongoing. So far, cancer patients taking part have seen their tumor growth halted. The compound's effect on neurofibromatosis, melanoma and pancreatic cancer is being investigated. Although the trials are still in early stages, the majority of patients have shown no further growth of their tumors. Those in charge of the study believe that several other PAK-1 dependent diseases such as AIDS and Fragile X mental retardation syndrome can be impacted by the compound.
Propolis is effective against cancer of the larynx
Scientists in Brazil recently investigated the effects of propolis on human laryngeal epidermoid carcinoma. They incubated cells with different concentrations of bee propolis for different time periods. Then they analyzed morphology and number of viable cancerous cells. Their data showed that propolis exhibited the ability to kill cancerous cells in a dose and time dependent manner. (Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, October 22, 2007)
Propolis keeps tumors from setting up their own blood supplies
In other recent research, researchers examined the ability of propolis components to stop tumors from developing their own blood supplies. When blood supply to a tumor is cut off, it can no longer receive nutrients to fuel its growth. Acacetin, apigenin, artepillin C, CAPE, chrysin, p-coumaric acid, galangin, kaempherol, pinocembrin, and quercetin were studied for their antioxidant activity as well.
Two of the components, CAPE and quercetin, possessed strong inhibitory effects on tube formation and endothelial cell proliferation, and coincidentally showed strong antioxidant activity. Artepillin C, galangin, and kaempferol also possessed strong ability to block tumor blood supply. Each had strong antioxidant activity although not to the degree of CAPE and quercetin. In contrast, acacetin, apigenin, and pinocembrin possessed a considerable degree of effect against blood supply formation, although they demonstrated low antioxidant activity. The scientists noted the potential for these compounds to be developed into pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of human tumors. (Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, December 8, 2008)
Bee propolis rejuvenates the immune system
The first double-blind study of propolis involved a team of five doctors led by Professor S. Scheller in Poland, who found that propolis had the power to prolong the prime of life by stimulating the immune system to release substances that protect against cellular deterioration. In addition, propolis boosted the destruction of potentially harmful foreign bacteria and stimulated the formation of antibodies to build immunity to many diseases. This strengthening of cellular defense helps build resistance to aging and illness.
Phagocytes are the white blood cells that serve as the primary defense against bacterial infections. Their activity was found to be increased by propolis.
As people reach their 30s and 40s, the immune system generally begins to weaken, increasing susceptibility to disease. Propolis offers wide spectrum activity though its broad range of flavonoids and other cell-building compounds, such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Flavonoids from propolis can block the release of histamine by stabilizing cell membrane lipids. Flavonoids guard against deposits of aging lypofuscins, which is fatty pigment in the heart, brain, nerves and liver.
Here are some comments from Dr. Scheller about his findings regarding propolis as quoted in Carlson Wade's article Can Bee Propolis Rejuvenate the Immune System:
"There was an increase in general physical performance, also sexual, and above all intellectual.
"In the gastro-enterological area, we found a favorable effect on infectious changes in the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines.
"There was an accelerated and intensified regeneration of injured tissue on traumatically or infectiously altered tissues.
"There were no unequivocally negative changes in the white blood picture or in the liver or kidney values. Among other things, this substantiates the absence of side effects of propolis as well as its non-toxicity.
"In our paper, we particularly studied the effect on the immune system and documented further positive effects of propolis on circulation, metabolism, physical well-being and infectious diseases.
"Simulate the immune system, and it is possible to control the aging process and enjoy a long and healthy life. Propolis holds the key to this form of inner rejuvenation."
Propolis is effective against a variety of bacteria and viruses
A bee hive is a busy place crammed full of bustling bodies. These conditions would make them very susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, which could destroy the hive the way the Bubonic Plague ravaged Europe in the 17th century. Yet bees are able to prevent infection by using sap from young trees that has antibiotic properties. They gather the sap, remetabolize it with their nectar secretions, and take it back to the hives. There they spread it all over the place so that every bee will brush against it and become immunized. The tree antibiotic becomes the bee antibiotic.
Studies have documented the ability of propolis against Staphylococcus aureus that causes deadly infections in hospitals. Researchers found that extracts of propolis inhibited the growth of the bacteria.
Another study documented that propolis inhibited the activity of streptococcal bacteria species that cause dental cavities. Japanese researchers reported that propolis fed laboratory rats had far fewer cavities than those given a regular diet.
Researchers in Brazil recently evaluated the antimicrobial activity of two experimental pastes containing propolis extract associated with calcium hydroxide against polymicrobial cultures collected from molars of children. The paste was effective in controlling dental infections. (Brazilian Dental Journal, 2008)
Propolis is equally effective against viral infection. Several journals have documented its ability to fight upper respiratory infections, such as those caused by the common cold and influenza viruses. It has been shown to prevent viruses from reproducing, but it must be used throughout the infection period.
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.