Bees have always played an important part in the healing arts around the world. Honey has been valued since ancient times for its sweetness and prized at the same time for its amazing medicinal properties. As far back as the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, there is evidence to show that honey was used for its antimicrobial properties and even today, it is making a strong comeback in the area of wound healing, where it seems to be able to treat even some of the most difficult wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers.
And honey is not the only bee product that modern science is discovering uses for. One such product is propolis, whose compounds seems to be able to help fight the never-ending war being waged on cancer. Read on to find out more.
What is Propolis?
Honey, of course, is made from the pollen of flowering plants and used by bees as a source of nutrition. Propolis, on the other hand, is more of a tool. It is a thick, caulk-like substance which bees produce to help them repair holes in their hives. These hives are intricate systems of living quarters, food storage quarters and nurseries for young larvae and thus need constant maintenance.
And bees are not the only ones which have found propolis to be so useful. Like honey, it has been used since ancient times for its array of beneficial properties since it has been proven to be an:
And now, it seems, its anti-carcinogenic properties can be added to the list.
Propolis and Cancer
Interest in propolis in the area of oncology has been piqued by a study which has come out from the University of Chicago Medical School. In this study, researchers isolated a particular compound from propolis called caffeic acid phenethyl ester (or CAPE). They then took this bioactive compound and used it to treat prostate cancer cells. This was an in vivo study, meaning that it took place in a laboratory with cancer cells raised in a test tube.
In the presence of CAPE, it was found that the cancer cells rate of growth was slowed by a whopping 50%. When scientists looked closer at this phenomenon, they found that propolis worked by, not killing the cancer cells directly, but by interfering with signals which control the rate at which these cells are reproduced.
In other studies, though, it has been found that CAPE does have cytotoxic properties, meaning that it can, in fact, kill off cancer cells directly. These studies include ones done on prostate cancer cells and colon cancer cells, among others.
Due to these studies, it is likely that more research will be forthcoming on propolis and how its active components seem to have such a strong impact on cancer cells. And hopefully this research will eventually lead to the development of natural therapies for cancer which effectively kill off cancer cells without the awful side effects of modern medical treatments.