Propolis for High Blood Pressure
Similar to caulk for carpenters, propolis is used by bees to seal up small, unwanted spaces in the beehive. Bees collect the resinous substance from tree buds, sap flows and other plant-based sources. Because trees and other plants produce resin as a protective measure against fungus, bacterial and insects, their usefulness in treating human ailments has been under investigation by the medical community. Recent studies show that propolis may be an effective tool against everything from cavities to cancer to high blood pressure (hypertension)*
Researchers in Japan and Turkey have conducted studies to determine the effectiveness of the product in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. [more on propolis benefits] In 2005, researchers from the Nagaragawa Research Center in Japan published an article in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin stating that hypertensive rats treated with a propolis extract exhibited a slower increase in blood pressure than the control rats. Their conclusion surmised that propolis may be useful for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
In 2012, researchers from Nigde University in Nigde, Turkey conducted a study to discover what effect, if any, the administration of propolis had on blood pressure in rats deprived of key biological component–nitric oxide–that helped regulate blood pressure. Their study, published in Clinical and Experimental Hypertension, found that propolis helped decrease the activity of an enzyme that limits nitric oxide, thereby making more nitric oxide available to help modulate and reduce blood pressure.
While the exact make up of the substance varies depending on the region, botanical source and season, most propolis consists of resins and balsams, wax, essential oils and pollen. The sticky substance is often high in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
In some areas, including Henan, China, propolis contains additional compounds displaying antibacterial or anti-inflammatory properties. In other areas, and even in other areas of the same hive, those compounds may be absent and others present. Because of the variety of sources and constituents in propolis, obtaining a standardized sample is difficult. Distributors cannot claim with certainty that the medicinal quality in one sample will not be absent in another. Hence, while the research conducted by one group of scientists may find medicinal benefit, the same research conducted by scientists using different propolis samples may yield an entirely different result.
Blood pressure is the measurement of the force that blood exerts against the walls of the cardiovascular system. When the heart beats, it exerts more pressure than when it rests. The systolic pressure measures the amount of force inside the arteries when the heart beats and is recorded above the diastolic, the amount of pressure exerted when the heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120 systolic over less than 80 diastolic.
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it can be present with no obvious symptoms. High blood pressure can increase the risk of developing life-threatening conditions, such as heart or kidney disease, and stroke. Preventing high blood pressure is preferable to treating the condition as it rarely goes away on its own after it develops.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the keys to preventing high blood pressure include:
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Following a healthy eating plan
- Getting regular exercise
- Reducing salt and sodium intake
- Moderating alcohol intake
In addition to the above measures, reducing stress helps lower blood pressure and may help prevent other diseases.
A 2012 study conducted by Chinese researchers and published in a 2012 edition of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that encapsulated propolis had a significant impact on blood glucose and supported the use of propolis in treating type 2 diabetes. The ability to regulate insulin sensitivity may aid in weight loss, a direct contributor to high blood pressure.
Supplementing with propolis may help regulate enzymes that affect blood pressure, reduce inflammation that can lead to a systemic response, and may help with weight loss and insulin sensitivity. Scientific studies certainly point to the possibility that bee propolis may have a beneficial and significantly positive effect on some aspects of blood pressure.
Bees may not be man’s best friend, but their usefulness to mankind is without question. Unless you are allergic to bees or their products, supplementing with propolis presents few side effects and may help you prevent or control high blood pressure as well as other illnesses and conditions. Check with a doctor before self-treating with propolis or other bee products.
More references on bee propolis: benefits | Immune system