hen my brother Joe harvested his honey at the farm last fall he gave me a gift of a small quantity of propolis from his hives, along with the tantalizing hook that he heard you can make your own ‘liquid bandage’ by dissolving it in alcohol. So today I finally picked up some Everclear to do just that \/.
Propolis is made up of components of resin which the bees collect from flowers, trees and plants, and then digest with many enzymes. The bees then use it to: close or block openings or cracks in the beehive (helping stable the temperature inside the hive in cold regions), diminish the opening of the entrance and impede the entrance of enemies, and to glue the frames in their vertical framework together and affix them to the beehive.
When bees mix the propolis with enzymes they secrete, it creates a form of defense (antibody) that acts against viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Thus, bees use propolis to essentially mummify enemies or foreign objects in their hive in order to contain pathogens. They cover all the honeycomb with a thin layer of propolis, even the interior of the cells, before the queen lays her eggs, to help fight disease.
A tincture is something dissolved in alcohol. Here’s the instructions I found on the internet at http://www.herbcraft.org/beewell.html to make a tincture from propolis:
Propolis is entirely insoluable in water, but will dissolve readily in strong alcohol. If your propolis is in chunks, you can break it into smaller pieces by freezing it in a plastic bag, then taking it out and immediately banging it with something. Once you have it close to a gravel consistency, put it into a glass jar and cover it with Everclear (or other high proof alcohol). Cap, and steep this for 2 to 4 weeks, shaking every now and again. Strain this (as best you can) through a wire strainer, and fill a dropper bottle for ease of use.
Propolis tincture also makes an excellent “liquid bandage”. Simply apply a few drops topically around a wound, rub it gently around to cover, and blow on it till the alcohol evaporates off. You can repeat a few times to get a thicker layer. This “bandage” protects from infection, keeps the wound clean and facilitates healing. Also, because it’s not soluble at all in water, it won’t come of readily of you get wet, though, eventually, you will sweat it off. Do be aware that it will sting, being in an alcohol base. It excels for addressing cuts and scrapes on knuckles and elbows, and other places bandages just don’t seem made for.
People use a propolis tincture diluted with water to treat enflamed gums or a sore throat, and to help restore the voice. Like honey, it also exerts a potent antimicrobial action against H. pylori, and is also among the better remedies for addressing cold and canker sores.
I will have to let you know how it works. Also please note: People who are generally allergic to bee stings are, as well, allergic to the use or application of propolis, honey, royal jelly, and pollen. The direct contact with propolis (to those who are allergic) could cause red marks in the hands and face.
Still reading? Here’s some more fascinating information about the healing properties of honey via http://www.dermnetnz.org/treatments/honey.html
Did you know for millenia people have used honey as a topical wound treatment because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties? Because honey is a saturated or supersaturated solution of sugars that has strong interaction with water molecules, the lack of ‘free’ water inhibits the growth of microorganisms. When honey is diluted by wound exudates, hydrogen peroxide is produced via a glucose oxidase enzyme reaction. This is released slowly to provide antibacterial activity but does not damage tissue. Some honeys still have antimicrobial activity even when hydrogen peroxide activity has been removed, from the antibacterial phytochemicals they contain.
There has been a renewed interest in modern medicine in the healing properties of honey with much clinical research being done. In most clinical cases, honey is being used when conventional antibacterial treatment with antibiotics and antiseptics are ineffective. Numerous studies have shown that these difficult-to-heal wounds including, leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, infected wounds resulting from injury or surgery, and burns respond well to honey dressings. Studies have shown honey promotes rapid healing with minimal scarring.