Bee propolis in the treatment of parrots

Printer-friendly version

Julie Hamilton

The facts: Bee propolis has prompted a great deal of medical interest, especially in the past 30 years. One of the reasons for the present worldwide interest is probably the often astounding findings contained in well-documented, ongoing research in some east European countries, China and the USA.
The Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University and School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton published a report based on their investigations into the possible therapeutic action of propolis, especially in relation to acute inflammatory infections - conditions where allopathic antibiotics would normally be prescribed. The results of the in-depth scientific research are extremely interesting.

Although the report is technically complex and wide-ranging, basically the experiments involved measuring the antibacterial action of propolis using three types of bacteria - gram-positive Bacillus subtillis, gram negative E-coli and Rhodobacter sphaeroides. The test strains were resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol and kanamycin antibiotics. The test results found that propolis irreversibly inhibited the growth of B. subtillis and, most interestingly of all, the organism showed no signs of subsequent resistance to the bee substance. It was also found that propolis had a potent bacterial effect on R. sphaeroides, again with the organism exhibiting no signs of long-term immunity. The gram-negative E-coli also succumbed to the action of propolis, but to a slightly lesser degree under laboratory conditions.

The report concludes that although the antimicrobial components of propolis have still to be identified, it is assumed that they are probably flavenoids and/or various esters of caffeic acid, and that the potent bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects of the substance are the result of the combined action of several of such components.

'Propolis is an extremely safe substance - a safety which belies its powerful healing potential for man, animal and bird'

Herpes simplex type-1 (HSV-1) has been recorded since ancient Greek times and has often been described as the scourge of man. Nowadays, some researchers believe that the virus, or a mutant strain, is also responsible for many herpes-type symptoms in animals and birds.

The problem is that HSV-1, in humans and other possible variants in animals and birds, has the ability to remain latent in its host, awaiting reactivation. Such reactivation is usually due to diminished immune system function. Chronic stress, prolonged antibiotic treatment and similar factors are also believed to "awaken" the virus.

When bodily cells become infected with HSV-1, they undergo many structural changes and fail to survive. In an attempt to prevent the cellular damage and discomfort caused by this widespread virus, antiviral drugs have been developed to deal with the problem. Although these drugs can control and deal with the outbreak effectively, side effects and the potential immunity of the virus to such drugs continue to pose a problem.

In recent experiments, propolis was used as a possible "natural" antiviral. The conclusion arrived at from these scientific tests was that propolis inhibited HSV-1 replication by 27 per cent - which is three per cent higher than the most effective "synthetic" drug treatment! Research is still ongoing, but present findings are promising.

The Oxford University report concluded that propolis may indeed have an important anti-inflammatory effect and was worthy of further scientific investigation into its therapeutic efficacy. It also concluded that the substance contained potent inhibitors which can strongly effect a positive immune and inflammatory response.

Scientific language is hard to understand for the majority of people. However, sometimes we don't need to know how it works so long as we know it does! James Keith.