Propolis extract has become a key natural ingredient for pharmaceutical and food supplement products. The main reason is that it contains many bioactive compounds that are very beneficial for health.
Propolis has regained attention recently as consumers have an interest in a healthier lifestyle. Also, in products that strengthen their immune system. Let’s think about its broad applications in prehistoric times. Throughout history, propolis extract has been used to fight infection, heal wounds, or embalm corpses. However, if you ever underestimated its potential, learn that it is the reason why thousands of honeybees have been able to survive 50 days to the Canary Island’s volcano eruption.
By using the stocking of this resinous material to seal up the holes in their hive, they were able to protect themselves from toxic ash and deadly gas.
In this article, we will focus on what characteristics make propolis extract a fundamental beehive product for pharmaceutical and food supplement companies.
How is bee propolis extract produced?
Honey bees make propolis out of the resins and sap they collect from deciduous trees, sap flows and other botanical sources. Back in the hive, resins are mixed with wax, enzymes and honey; and the mixture is stocked for a whole lot of uses including the sterilizing and disinfection of the bee colony.
While propolis has many uses for bees, it is also highly beneficial for humans. In order to exploit its countless possibilities, propolis is extracted commercially with a suitable solvent; usually a clear grain type of alcohol.
Its extraction consists of dissolving the propolis collected into the solvent and afterwards straining out the solution. Doing so removes the inert material from the source of propolis while preserving the desired, bactericidal compounds.
Bioactive Compounds of Propolis
Propolis is a natural source of biologically active substances: essential oils, vitamins and other organic compounds that occur naturally as part of food chains and confer useful health benefits. Some of the most important are outlined below:
Propolis is high in phenolic acids and polyphenols, which act as some of the oldest antiseptic agents. These compounds grant propolis extract a natural antibiotic property that protects the immune system and acts against microorganisms.
Terpenoids are highly aromatic compounds with strong antifungal qualities that empower antimicrobial activity. Its presence in natural extracts help reduce the expression of inflammatory mediators, enhance skin penetration and boost energy levels.
Flavonoids present in propolis are responsible for protecting body cells from oxidative damage that can potentially lead to disease.
Propolis has a mixture of salivary and enzymatic secretions that accelerate different enzymatic reactions, fostering the metabolism of cells, blood circulation and also the formation of collagen fibers.
European propolis market: claims and trends
During the last few years and specifically after the pandemic, ingredients that stimulate immunity are playing a growingly important role in the supplements sector due to a big increase in consumer demand.
At the same time, potential buyers have started to be aware of the benefits that propolis provides, expanding a recently existing culture based on natural and beehive products that now showcase on the most popular beauty and wellness blogs.
Even though this is a global market trend, Europe is currently the largest player in terms of propolis market share, with Germany, UK, France, Italy and Turkey taking the lead. Only in Europe, more than 250 products containing propolis extract as its main active ingredient have been launched in the past 5 years.
The growing European demand for propolis can be attributed to its functional benefits, which respond to the rising health awareness and its ability to boost the immune system, digestive health, and to reduce aging effects amongst adults.
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Propolis: a huge opportunity for the pharma and food supplements sector
Propolis is a strategic ingredient for the pharma and food supplements sector, as it responds to the current customer priorities, above mentioned. Healthcare and wellbeing businesses can greatly benefit from the following properties found in propolis, as a way to reinforce their brand and strengthen their product line.
Natural ingredient with antibiotic properties
Propolis is a natural ingredient that creates a long-term connection with the consumer, adopting it not only as a product, but as a way of life. Many studies have verified a synergistic activity between some antibiotics and propolis, with greatest effectiveness shown against the influenza virus has been shown due to its antibiotic properties.
Propolis collection and consumption contribute to the preservation of the ecosystem, supporting the beekeeping sector. Bees are pollinators with a key role in conserving biodiversity. In fact, close to 75% of the world’s food crops depend to some extent on pollination. With the number of bees plummeting as a result of climate change, reaping the benefits of propolis production is more demanding and urgent than ever.
Preventive health and immune system
Propolis is a powerful compound found in new natural product developments aimed to boost preventive health. Recent scientific research has strongly suggested propolis as one of the most promising immunomodulation agents. The antimicrobial activities of propolis occur through a direct action on microorganisms and indirectly also through the stimulation of the immune system.
Propolis extract is becoming more and more available commercially in the form of capsules, mouthwash solutions, creams, throat lozenges, powder and many other formats that can adapt to tailored preferences and needs. Beehive products such as royal jelly, honey, and bee pollen are often combined and blended with this natural ingredient to offer value-added food and pharma products.
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Health benefits of bee propolis extract
Beyond prevention, propolis has many applications in treating various diseases because of its healing substances. As a proofed antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antimycotic, antifungal, antiulcer, anticancer, and immunomodulatory natural ingredient, propolis can make a less invasive alternative or a complement to existing forms of medicine.
Antibacterial and antifungal qualities
The antifungal activity of propolis extract has been proved to be extremely effective against different fungi. One of the most common antimicrobial applications is its formulation for cold syndromes, such as respiratory and flu-like infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Dermatological and dental care
As a natural biomaterial for dental and oral healthcare, propolis extract is largely used in mouthwashes and toothpastes to prevent supragingival plaque, caries and to treat gingivitis, periodontitis and stomatitis within others.
Although propolis’ majority use is oral, the popularity of propolis as a skin treatment has been increasing. This incredible natural substance is efficacious in helping heal wounds and skin conditions, such as acne, comedones, herpes, burns and eczema.
Propolis extract, in all of its different forms, possess antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals in the body. These radicals are compounds that can cause illness and aging if their levels become too high. For these reasons, propolis extract is popularly used in cosmetics, food and pharma supplements as a skin rejuvenator and as a cell regenerator.
Terpenoids extracted from propolis are potent anti-inflammatory agents, making it a non-invasive and effective formula to prevent gastrointestinal disorders and lower high blood pressure, both derived from inflammation. Furthermore, it protects bone health by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis and promoting osteoblastogenesis, promoting health tissue.
This natural remedy has an antidiabetic effect on human bodies; reducing the expression of glucose and acting as a potential agent for the treatment of insulin-insensitive diabetes.
Foster your natural wellness portfolio with propolis-based supplements
Take one step further on the way to escalating your green portfolio by offering a health-boosting natural product with ancient and nourishing properties.
If you are thinking about starting a new pharma or food supplement project, feel free to contact one of our experts who will be delighted to advise and guide you through.
It takes just a second to download our Propolis catalog, where you can find out more about this natural antibiotic that protects the immune system and accounts for a natural and healthful future.