Propolis and Immunity

By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas

The winter cold & flu season is a time when most people can benefit from some additional support to their immune system. In this article, I want to explain what propolis and discuss the unique and powerful immune-system enhancing benefits of Dr. Ohhira’s Propolis Plus.

The Power of Propolis
In addition to honey, honeybees make another vital substance called Propolis. Propolis is made from resins that these industrious little creatures collect from various trees and plants in their local environment.

Resins are compounds that are secreted by trees and plants when they have been injured. A plant secretes resins in an attempt to close surface wounds, which helps protect the plant from further damage or insect attacks. These resins contain compounds with properties that are antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Essentially resins are a vital part of a plant’s immune system, which functions somewhat like the white blood cells in our human immune system.

The Propolis is produced when the bees return to the hive and combine the collected antimicrobial resins, pollen, and their distinctive contribution, ‘bees-wax.’ This results in the creation of a sticky substance called Propolis, also sometimes referred to as ‘bee’s glue.’

The bees then apply a thin layer of Propolis to the inner surfaces of the hive, which seals and protects the colony from external forces like wind and rain and protects the hive from becoming infected by intruders, bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Hence, Propolis serves as the immune system of the beehive.

I think this is fascinating…how resins are the immune system of plants. Bees collect resins and create a product that becomes the immune system of the beehive. And then humans collect propolis from beehives and make supplements that support our human immune system. Nature at its best!

Propolis Varies by Region
Dr. Ohhira’s Propolis Plus is made from Brazilian Green Propolis. Due to the unique ecosystem in the Amazon, the chemical composition of Brazilian Green Propolis differs from all other Propolis products. In fact, in numerous studies, Brazilian Green Propolis has been shown to exhibit much stronger anti-inflammatory and analgesic or pain-relieving properties than the propolis produced by bees in other parts of the world.

Although clinical trials on the immune system-enhancing effects of Brazilian Green Propolis have not been conducted in humans, animal studies have reported benefits. For example, in a study with aged mice, administration of Brazilian green propolis was reported to have a positive effect on both innate and adaptive immunity. It certainly makes sense that a product whose ingredients provide anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity would offer immune system-enhancing benefits.

About Astaxanthin
Another important ingredient that Dr. Ohhira included in the formulation of Dr. Ohhira’s Propolis Plus is a powerful antioxidant, Astaxanthin (a-stə-ˈzan(t)-thən). Astaxanthin belongs to a class of compounds called carotenoids that impart the bright red, yellow and orange pigments to many fruits and vegetables. Astaxanthin is called the “King of the Carotenoids” because it is a much stronger antioxidant than all other known carotenoids.

Astaxanthin also provides potent anti-inflammatory activity. In human clinical trials, Astaxanthin has been shown to help alleviate pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. This combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects makes Astaxanthin an excellent ingredient to complement the system-enhancing immune impact of Brazilian green propolis.

Propolis Plus also contains flaxseed oil which contains omega-3 essential fatty acids. Hundreds of studies have reported that omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and support a robust immune system.

Dr. Ohhira’s Propolis Plus contains a unique combination of ingredients that help synergistically support a healthy immune system. With the winter months fast approaching, consider adding Dr. Ohhira’s Propolis PLUS to your immune boosting arsenal including Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics
In addition to supporting digestion, probiotics are essential for immune system function. Your gut is your first line of immune response. Approximately 70-80 percent of immune system cells reside in the digestive tract, and probiotics support those immune cells.

To stay healthy, the ratio of good to bad bacteria needs to be at least 85 to 15. Today, due to stress, diet, environmental toxins and lifestyle factors, that ratio is tough to maintain unless you supplement with high-quality probiotic support such as Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.