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Beehive Botanicals Adopts Propolis through ABC's Adopt-an-Herb Program

AUSTIN, Texas (January 22, 2018) — The American Botanical Council (ABC) welcomes Beehive Botanicals’ adoption of propolis through ABC’s Adopt-an-Herb botanical education program. Propolis is a natural, plant-derived bee product that has been used medicinally by humans for centuries.

Beehive Botanicals’ propolis adoption supports ABC’s extensive HerbMedPro database, ensuring that this essential educational resource remains up to date for researchers, health professionals, industry, students, consumers, and members of the herbal and dietary supplements community. HerbMedPro is a comprehensive, interactive online database that provides access to important scientific and clinical research data on the uses and health effects of more than 250 herbs, spices, and medicinal plants.

“Beehive Botanicals is committed to quality, purity, and integrity,” wrote Michelle Forrester, the company’s chief financial officer, adding that participation in the Adopt-an-Herb program reflects the company’s commitment to integrity by providing unbiased information on the benefits of propolis. 

“We are deeply grateful for Beehive Botanicals’ adoption of propolis on ABC’s HerbMedPro website,” said ABC founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal. “As a former beekeeper, I personally appreciate the opportunity for ABC to create an HerbMedPro record on the scientific and clinical research on this fascinating healing substance.”

About Propolis

Propolis, or bee glue, is a complex, sticky, resinous, wax-like mixture that is produced by some bee species, including the Western, or European, honeybee (Apis mellifera, which is managed widely by beekeepers) and some stingless bees (meliponines). To make propolis, these bees collect plant secretions (lipophilic materials on leaves and leaf buds, mucilages, gums, resins, latexes, etc.) and often mix them with beeswax and saliva and sometimes other substances, such as honey. Some meliponines are known to also sometimes mix in earth (clay, mud, etc.) when making propolis, but A. mellifera reportedly is not known to do this.

The bees may cut plant tissues to release the exudate used to make propolis and may also collect material exuded from preexisting wounds in plants. The chemical composition of propolis can vary significantly and depends mainly on the plant species near the hive, but also on seasons, altitude, illumination, the collecting bee species, and other factors. Propolis consists mainly of plant resins and beeswax and contains essential oils, phenolic compounds, and pollen. 

Propolis reportedly is derived mostly from plant species in the North Temperate Zone (which extends from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle), including species of alder (Alnus spp., Betulaceae), beech (Fagus spp., Fagaceae), birch (Betula spp., Betulaceae), elm (Ulmus spp., Ulmaceae), poplar (Populus spp., Salicaceae), willow (Salix spp., Salicaceae), and conifers such as pine (Pinus spp., Pinaceae). The color of propolis can vary from green to brown and reddish, depending on the botanical source(s). 

The word “propolis” derives from the Greek pro, meaning “in front of” or “at the entrance to,” and polis, meaning “community” or “city,” presumably because bees use it to defend the hive. Specifically, they use it as cement to seal cracks and reinforce the structural stability of the hive and to make the entrance of the hive weathertight and easier to defend. They also apply it to areas where combs are to be attached, which creates smooth and germ-free surfaces. In addition, they use it to embalm hive invaders that have died, if they are not able to remove the carcass from the hive. Propolis is reportedly responsible for the lower incidence of microorganisms inside the hive than outside and helps prevent infection of larvae, honey stores, and combs.

There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans all used propolis. In the first century, the Greek physician Dioscorides and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about its benefits. Traditionally, propolis has been used internally and externally to treat wounds, burns, ulcers, rheumatism, myalgia, eczema, and cough, and to draw out thorns and splinters. Propolis has demonstrated anesthetic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral (including anti-herpes and anti-HIV), cytotoxic, and immunomodulatory properties. It has been used in food and beverages for its health benefits.

About Beehive Botanicals

Hayward, Wisconsin-based Beehive Botanicals was established in 1972 by Warren Ogren and began by exporting only one product, propolis, to Europe. It was many years before consumers in the United States became interested in propolis, according to the company. Although propolis remains an important part of the company’s business, consumers eventually asked for a broader selection of products, and Beehive Botanicals now offers bee pollen, royal jelly, and unique items such as throat sprays, extracts, and tinctures with propolis, as well as propolis lip balm. Beehive Botanicals also provides contract manufacturing of dietary supplements, along with raw material and bulk encapsulation, powder, and liquid filling.

The company, which is the largest dealer of propolis in North America according to its website, is committed to maintaining NSF International certification to ensure that its manufacturing process adheres to high-quality standards. The company also values philanthropy and contributes regularly to local food shelters, the local school district and humane society, and other causes.

Beehive Botanicals sources propolis from the United States, China, and Brazil and standardizes its propolis based on the flavonoids pinocembrin, chrysin, galangin, and quercetin. The standardization process involves alcohol extraction and removal of wax.

About Adopt-an-Herb and HerbMedPro

Beehive Botanicals is one of 50 companies that have supported ABC’s educational efforts to collect, organize, and disseminate reliable, traditional, and science-based information, including clinical studies, on herbs, medicinal plants, and other botanical- and fungal-based ingredients through the Adopt-an-Herb program. This program encourages companies, organizations, and individuals to “adopt” one or more specific herbs for inclusion and ongoing maintenance in the HerbMedPro database. To date, 56 herbs have been adopted.

Each adopted herb is continuously researched for new scientific articles and pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies, ensuring that its HerbMedPro record stays current and robust. The access to the studies is conveniently organized by type of publication, with each study condensed to a one-sentence summary with a link to each study’s official abstract on PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine’s free-access database) or other publicly-accessible database. 

HerbMedPro is available to ABC members at the Academic level and higher. Its “sister” site, HerbMed, is available to the general public at no cost, with access to 25-30 herb records from the larger HerbMedPro database. In keeping with ABC’s position as an independent research and education organization, herb adopters do not influence the scientific information that is compiled for their respective adopted herbs.