Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greek Bee Pollen Rich in Flavonoids, Shows Free Radical Scavenging Activity

Chemical Analysis of Greek Pollen - Antioxidant, Antimicrobial and Proteasome Activation Properties
Chem Cent J, 2011 Jun 23;5(1):33


Pollen is a bee-product known for its medical properties from ancient times. In our days is increasingly used as health food supplement and especially as a tonic primarily with appeal to the elderly to ameliorate the effects of ageing. In order to evaluate the chemical composition and the biological activity of Greek pollen which has never been studied before, one sample with identified botanical origin from sixteen different common plant taxa of Greece has been evaluated.


Three different extracts of the studied sample of Greek pollen, have been tested, in whether could induce proteasome activities in human fibroblasts. The water extract was found to induce a highly proteasome activity, showing interesting antioxidant properties. Due to this activity the aqueous extract was further subjected to chemical analysis and seven flavonoids have been isolated and identified by modern spectral means. From the methanolic extract, sugars, lipid acids, phenolic acids and their esters have been also identified, which mainly participate to the biosynthetic pathway of pollen phenolics. The total phenolics were estimated with the Folin-Ciocalteau reagent and the total antioxidant activity was determined by the DPPH method while the extracts and the isolated compounds were also tested for their antimicrobial activity by the dilution technique.


The Greek pollen is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids which indicate the observed free radical scavenging activity, the effects of pollen on human fibroblasts and the interesting antimicrobial profile.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Propolis Flavonoid Protects Against UV-Induced Skin Damage

Chrysin Protects Epidermal Keratinocytes from UVA- and UVB-Induced Damage
J Agric Food Chem, 2011 Jun 24

Chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone), a natural flavonoid occurring in various plants and foods such as propolis and honey, reportedly opposes inflammation and carcinogenesis, but has rarely been applied in skin care.

This study, therefore, aimed to explore the roles of chrysin in protection against UV-induced damage in HaCaT keratinocytes.

Results showed that chrysin can attenuate apoptosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression induced by UVB and UVA. Chrysin predominantly reversed the downregulation of aquaporin 3(AQP-3) by UVB. It predominantly reversed JNK activation and also mildly inhibited p38 activation triggered by UVA and UVB. Animal studies revealed that chrysin's topical application demonstrated efficient percutaneous absorption and no skin irritation.

Overall, results demonstrated significant benefits of chrysin on the protection of keratinocytes against UVA- and UVB-induced injuries, and suggested its potential use in skin photoprotection.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Iraqi Propolis Exhibits Strong Free Radical Scavenging Activity

Chemical Characterization of Iraqi Propolis Samples and Assessing their Antioxidant Potentials
Food and Chemical Toxicology, Article in Press

Propolis samples, collected from different geographical locations in Iraq (Baghdad, Dahuk, Mosul and Salah ad-Din), were analyzed and assessed for their anti-oxidant activity.

Concentrations of phenolic compounds (flavonoids, phenolic acids and their esters) in propolis were estimated using high performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray mass spectrometry. Thirty-eight different compounds were identified and thirty-three of them were polyphenols. Other compounds were tentatively identified as clerodane diterpenoids, and one was considered unknown.

Semi-quantitative measurements showed that phenolic acids and their esters were the predominant constituents in propolis extracts, followed by flavones and flavonols, and then flavanones and dihydroflavonols.

Propolis samples were further spectrophotometrically characterized using the Folin-Ciocalteu reagent for the determination of total phenolic compounds. The free radical scavenging activities of propolis samples were also evaluated by using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl assay.

The results revealed that propolis extracts exhibited strong free radical scavenging activity.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beeswax Used in Ancient Roman Medicine

The composition of some Roman medicines: evidence for Pliny's Punic wax?
Anal Bioanal Chem, 2011 Jun 18

Residues from medicine containers in the collections of the British Museum have been investigated as part of a wider programme of scientific work on Roman surgical instruments. The cylindrical bronze containers are often described as instrument cases, but some contain materia medica, ranging from extensive extant remains of ancient preparations to possible minor deposits on the interior surfaces of the containers.

Samples from seven residues have been analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify lipid, resin and carbohydrate components and by X-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy to characterise inorganic materials. The results have provided evidence for ointments and powders or pills consistent with a medical purpose.

The ingredients identified include beeswax, fat, conifer resin and gum-derived sugars, plus elemental carbon and lead and zinc salts. Particularly significant were the varied compositions of residues from four sections of a multi-compartment container.

In one of these compartments, the beeswax seems to have been prepared as the 'Punic wax' described by Pliny. Experimental preparation of Punic wax following Pliny's method was undertaken in the laboratory and the product analysed to compare with the ointment residues.

This paper discusses the GC-MS results of both the experimental material and the archaeological residues and their significance for the interpretation of the past intended applications of the medicines and the use of the containers.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Method to Evaluate Royal Jelly Authenticity and Adulteration

Stable Isotope Ratio Measurements of Royal Jelly Samples for Controlling Production Procedures: Impact of Sugar Feeding
Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, 2011 Jul 30;25(14):1929-32

The carbon and nitrogen stable ratios of royal jelly (RJ) samples from various origins are determined using an elemental analyser linked online to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer to evaluate authenticity and adulteration.

The (13) C/(12) C and (15) N/(14) N stable isotope ratios are measured in more than 500 RJs (domestic, imported and derived from feeding experiments) in order to obtain isotopic measurements that take into account seasonal, botanical and geographical effects.

Authenticity intervals are established for traditional beekeeping practices, without feeding, in the range -22.48 to -27.90‰ for δ(13) C. For these samples, the δ(15) N values range from -1.58 to 7.98‰, depending on the plant sources of pollen and nectar. The δ(13) C values of the commercial samples vary from -18.54 to -26.58‰. High δ(13) C values are typical of sugar cane or corn syrups which have distinctive isotopic (13) C signatures because both plants use the C4 photosynthetic cycle, in contrast to most RJs which are derived from C3 plants.

These differences in the (13) C-isotopic composition allow the detection of the addition of such sugars.

RJs from traditional sources and from industrial production by sugar feeding are thus successfully distinguished.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Medicinal Properties of Honey Extolled in Islamic Traditions

The Miracle of Honey
Gulf Times, 6/24/2011

More than 1,400 years ago Allah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, told us that honey can heal a variety of medical problems.

Allah says in the Qur’an, “And the Lord inspired the bee, saying: Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).’ There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily in this is indeed a sign for people who think.” (16:68-69)

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has also told us of the healing found within honey for a variety of medical problems, including stomach ailments. One hadith, reported by Bukhari, states that a man came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, because his brother had a stomach disorder. The Prophet said, “Let him drink honey.” The man returned a second time, saying his brother had stomach disorder, and again the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “Let him drink honey.” He returned a third time, saying again that his brother had stomach disorder. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, responded again, “Let him drink honey.” The man returned and said, “I have done that.” The Prophet then responded, “Allah has said the truth, but your brother’s stomach has told a lie. Let him drink honey.” He drank it and was cured.

Tirmithi, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi also reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “Make use of the two remedies: honey and the Qur’an.”…

Friday, June 24, 2011

Honeybee Silk Proteins May be Useful as a Biomaterial

Production, Structure and in vitro Degradation of Electrospun Honeybee Silk Nanofibers
Acta Biomater, 2011 Jun 12

Honeybees produce silken cocoons containing four related fibrous proteins. High levels of each of the honeybee silk proteins can be produced recombinantly by fermentation in Escherichia coli.

In this study we have used electrospinning to fabricate a single recombinant honeybee silk protein, AmelF3, into nanofibers of around 200nm diameter. Infrared spectroscopy found that the molecular structure of the nanofibers was predominantly coiled coil, essentially the same as native honeybee silk.

Mats of the honeybee nanofibers were treated with methanol or by water annealing, which increased their β-sheet content and rendered them water insensitive. The insoluble mats were degraded by protease on a time scale of hours to days. The protease gradually released proteins from the solid state and these were subsequently rapidly degraded into small peptides without the accumulation of partial degradation products.

Cell culture assays demonstrated that the mats allowed survival, attachment and proliferation of fibroblasts.

These results indicate that honeybee silk proteins meet many prerequisites for use as a biomaterial.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bee Venom May Help Treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Melittin Restores Proteasome Function in an Animal Model of ALS
J Neuroinflammation, 2011 Jun 20;8(1):69

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a paralyzing disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration and death of motor neurons and occurs both as a sporadic and familial disease.

Mutant SOD1 (mtSOD1) in motor neurons induces vulnerability to the disease through protein misfolding, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative damage, cytoskeletal abnormalities, defective axonal transport- and growth factor signaling, excitotoxicity, and neuro-inflammation.

Melittin is a 26 amino acid protein and is one of the components of bee venom which is used in traditional Chinese medicine to inhibit of cancer cell proliferation and is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects.

The purpose of the present study was to determine if melittin could suppress motor neuron loss and protein misfolding in the hSOD1G93A mouse, which is commonly used as a model for inherited ALS. Meltittin was injected at the ZuSanLi (ST36) acupuncture point in the hSOD1G93A animal model.

Melittin-treated animals showed a decrease in the number of microglia and in the expression level of phospho-p38 in the spinal cord and brainstem. Interestingly, melittin treatment in symptomatic ALS animals improved motor function and reduced the level of neuron death in the spinal cord when compared to the control group.

Furthermore, we found increased of alpha-synuclein modifications, such as phosphorylation or nitration, in both the brainstem and spinal cord in hSOD1G93A mice. However, melittin treatment reduced alpha-synuclein misfolding and restored the proteasomal activity in the brainstem and spinal cord of symptomatic hSOD1G93A transgenic mice.

Our research suggests a potential functional link between melittin and the inhibition of neuroinflammation in an ALS animal model.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Propolis Essential Oil Helps Decrease Anxiety

Therapeutic Effects of Propolis Essential Oil on Anxiety of Restraint Stress Mice
Hum Exp Toxicol, 2011 Jun 14

Propolis has a broad spectrum of biological activities; however, whether its essential oils have neuroprotective effects is unknown.

In this study, we found that propolis essential oil (PEO) could significantly reverse the anxiety-like behavior of restraint-stressed mice, and has no effect on locomotor activity. Furthermore, PEO significantly decreased the plasma levels of cortisol (CORT), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and malondialdehyde (MDA), whereas it increased the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in restraint-stressed mice.

These results strongly suggest that PEO has therapeutic effects on anxiety through antagonizing the hyperfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and improving the ability of antioxidation in brain tissue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Honey Helps Relieve Anxiety

Behavioral Modifications Related to Consumption of a “Soft” Adaptogen, Bee Honey, by Rats
Neirofiziologiya/Neurophysiology, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 46–50, January-February, 2011

Modifications of neurobehavioral activities related to single episodes of consumption of different doses of bee honey were examined in rats under conditions of the hole-board (HB) test (to evaluate the level of anxiety) and open-field (OF) test (where the intensities of locomotion, rearing, and grooming were measured).

Animals of all subgroups had free access to normal saline, while rats of the three experimental subgroups consumed bee honey in the doses of 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 g per 1 kg body mass (in the form of 10, 20, and 40% solutions, respectively). Among the doses tested, only higher ones induced considerable changes in the behavioral indices. The highest dose (2.0 g/kg) provided a more than twofold increase in the number of examined holes in the HB test; in the OF test, it also increased the numbers of crossed squares, rearings, and grooming episodes by 30, 37, and 164%, respectively.

Thus, our experiments demonstrated a rather significant ability of the natural product tested to relieve anxiety and intensify motor, research/orientational, and grooming aspects of behavior even upon single acts of consumption. Possible neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the behavioral modifications observed are discussed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Heather Honey Shows Anti-Fungal Activity

A Survey of the In Vitro Antifungal Activity of Heather (Erica Sp.) Organic Honey
J Med Food, 2011 Jun 11

Monofloral heather (Erica sp.) honey samples (n=89), harvested in Portugal according to European organic beekeeping rules, were analyzed to test their antifungal effect against Candida albicans, Candida krusei, and Cryptococcus neoformans.

A synthetic honey solution was also tested to determine antifungal activity attributable to sugars.

The specific growth rate (μ) values showed that growth of all the yeasts was reduced in the presence of honey. The honey concentration (% wt/vol) that inhibited 10% of the yeast growth (X(min)) was 13.5% for C. albicans, 20.5% for C. krusei, and 17.1% for C. neoformans.

The respective concentrations of heather honey and synthetic honey in the C. krusei culture medium above 60% (wt/vol) that inhibited 90% of the yeast growth (X(max)) and X(min), respectively, were established, whereas C. albicans and C. neoformans were more resistant because X(max) values were not reached over the range tested (10-60%, wt/vol).

Heather honey might be tapped as a natural resource to look for new medicines for the treatment of mycotic infections. Further studies are now required to demonstrate if this antifungal activity has any clinical application.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Royal Jelly Protects Against Toxic Effect of Pesticide

The Protective Effect of Royal Jelly on Chronic Lambda-Cyhalothrin Toxicity: Serum Biochemical Parameters, Lipid Peroxidation, and Genotoxic and Histopathological Alterations in Swiss Albino Mice
J Med Food, 2011 Jun 11

The present study was undertaken to investigate the protective effect of royal jelly (RJ) against toxicity induced by a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, lambda-cyhalothrin (LCT), in Swiss albino mice.

Animals were randomly divided into six groups of six animals each. The control group received distilled water alone, whereas mice in the treatment groups received RJ alone (100 or 250 mg/kg of body weight), LCT alone (668 ppm), or RJ+LCT for 21 days. All mice (100%) survived until the end of experiment and were sacrificed at the end of 24 hours.

Blood, bone marrow, and liver and kidney tissues were analyzed for aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, malondialdehyde (MDA), and reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and micronucleus (MN) frequency, chromosomal aberrations (CAs), and pathological damages.

Serum AST, ALT, BUN, and creatinine levels were elevated in mice treated with LCT alone compared with the other tested groups. LCT-induced oxidative damage caused a significant decrease in GSH levels and a significant rise in MDA levels of liver and kidney tissues. LCT alone-treated mice presented higher frequencies of MNs, CAs, and abnormal metaphases compared with the controls; moreover, the mitotic index was lower than in controls.

Oral treatment with RJ significantly ameliorated the indices of hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, and genotoxicity induced by LCT. Both doses of RJ tested provided significant protection against LCT-induced toxicity, and its strongest effect was observed at the dose level of 250 mg/kg of body weight.

In vivo results suggest that RJ is a potent antioxidant against LCT-induced toxicity, and its protective effect is dose dependent.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bee Venom Protects Heart Against Injury

Cardiac Effects of Bee Venom in Rats
Saudi Med J, 2011 Jun;32(6):563-70

OBJECTIVE: To elucidate the possible effects of bee venom (BV) on cardiac electrophysiological properties in vivo, the inotropic and chronotropic properties of the isolated hearts in vitro, and the cardiac responsiveness to progressive adrenergic stimulation by isoproterenol.

METHODS: This randomized control study was conducted in the Physiology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, from April to June 2010. This work was carried out on 22 female Wistar rats. Rats were allocated into 2 groups; BV-treated group (rats were treated with BV in a dose of 20 microgram/kg body weight, administered subcutaneously for 4 days), and the control group. Prior to sacrifice, the studied animals underwent electrocardiographic (ECG) assessments under anesthesia. Thereafter, isolated hearts were studied in a Langendorff preparation for their intrinsic properties, and their responses to beta-adrenergic stimulation. Following recovery, heart tissues were used for assessment of myocardial calcium content, and for histological examination.

RESULTS: No abnormal ECG findings were observed in the BV-treated group. The BV treatment enhanced tension generation in the cardiac muscle in response to beta-adrenergic stimulation, and improved the inotropic cardiac reserve. Calcium content of the myocardial tissue of BV-treated group was significantly increased. Histological examination of the cardiac tissue of BV-treated group demonstrated preserved myofilament and mitochondrial ultrastructural integrity.

CONCLUSION: The BV enhanced the cardiac inotropic reserve to beta-receptor agonists. Meanwhile, BV protected the heart against calcium overload-induced injury.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Apitherapy Workshop at 2012 Asian Apicultural Association Conference in Malaysia

There will be a demonstration and lecture series on the use of bee stings for acupuncture and ailment treatments by the group from Medical Faculty of Universiti Sains Malaysia (Kubang Kerian). This is a day course which include the theory and practice of apitherapy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Scientists to Study Welsh Honey for New Superbug Drugs

Madeleine Brindley, WalesOnline, 6/13/2011

Beekeepers are being urged to send scientists a sample of their home produce as they search for a Welsh “super honey”.

A team at Cardiff University believe by studying locally-produced honey they may stumble across one which is capable of fighting antibiotic-resistant infections.
The researchers at the Welsh School of Pharmacy and the National Botanic Garden of Wales are working together to test the honey samples and screen them for new plant sources of medicines.

This information will be used to identify plants which could eventually be developed into new medicines.

Professor Les Baillie, who is leading the research at Cardiff University, said: “We know different honeys have different properties but no one has done a comprehensive study of honey from Wales.

“The properties of honey will depend on where the bees have been feeding.

“About 70% of the drugs we use today are from plants – plants are a rich source of drugs.
“If we don’t look, we won’t find – it may be that just one honey in thousands will have the properties we’re looking for so the more samples we get, the better.”

Each of the 200g samples sent in by beekeepers will be tested by Cardiff University against two of the most common hospital-acquired infections – MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales will identify the plants which contributed to the most powerful honeys using a DNA profiling process being developed as part of the Barcode Wales project, which has DNA barcoded the flowering plants of Wales.

The identified plants found in the honey will then be studied for the potential to develop new drugs…

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mexican Honey Highly Variable in Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidant Activity of Artisanal Honey from Tabasco, Mexico
International Journal of Food Properties, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 459 - 470

Potential claims for honey, floral variety and their health properties are relevant for small farmers and artisan producers.

The antioxidant activity of honey samples from cacao farms, mangrove, citrus, and coconut groves from Mexico was established by applying a multiple-method approach, which included determination of the level of total phenolic compounds and total flavonoids.

Total phenolics and total flavonoids ranged from 51 to 134 mg gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/100 g honey and from 29.6 to 187.1 mg rutin equivalents/100 g honey respectively. Methanolic and aqueous solutions had similar profiles for inhibition of 2,2'-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical (range from 33 to 85%) but the aqueous solutions tended to show lower radical scavenging properties. Linear correlations were established between flavonoids contents and percentage inhibition of DPPH, but phenolics contents were not well correlated (R2 = 0.68) to the ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) values which showed wide ranges from 48 to 152 mg Trolox/100 g honey.

No patterns could be found in relation to antioxidant activities and the agrifood system of origin, floral availability, collection location, or season. Artisan honey samples from Tabasco were highly variable in their antioxidant properties, possibly because of the biodiversity and seasonal variations, which contribute to their unique nature. The antioxidant tests used in this study could be useful to verify the antioxidant function of honey.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bee Pollen Boosts Release of Insulin-Like Growth Factor I

The Effect of Bee Pollen on Secretion Activity, Markers of Proliferation and Apoptosis of Porcine Ovarian Granulosa Cells in vitro
Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B: Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes, Volume 46, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 207 - 212

The general objective of this in vitro study was to examine the effect of bee pollen on the release of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and steroid hormone progesterone, and expression of markers of proliferation (PCNA) and apoptosis (caspase-3) in porcine ovarian granulosa cells.

Concentrations of IGF-I and progesterone were determined by RIA method and expression of PCNA and caspase-3 by immunocytochemistry. Bee pollen addition at the dose of 10 ng/mL significantly inhibited IGF-I release by porcine ovarian granulosa cells.

This growth factor was not influenced by 100 and 1000 ng/mL doses of bee pollen. Progesterone release by cells was not influenced by bee pollen addition at the doses of 10, 100 and 1000 ng/mL as used in our study. Similarly expression of PCNA and caspase-3 was not affected by bee pollen addition.

The present study shows dose-dependent regulation of IGF-I by experimental bee pollen addition in vitro. Progesterone release, expression of PCNA and caspase-3 in porcine ovarian granulosa cells was not induced by pollen.

Our results contribute to new insights regarding the possible effect of bee pollen on IGF-I release, which is important for regulation of porcine ovarian functions.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Overview: Use of Honey, Bee Venom, Propolis in Modern Medicine

Insect Natural Products and Processes: New Treatments for Human Disease
Insect Biochem Mol Biol, 2011 May 30

In this overview, some of the more significant recent developments in bioengineering natural products from insects with use or potential use in modern medicine are described, as well as in utilisation of insects as models for studying essential mammalian processes such as immune responses to pathogens.

To date, insects have been relatively neglected as sources of modern drugs although they have provided valuable natural products, including honey and silk, for at least 4-7000 years, and have featured in folklore medicine for thousands of years. Particular examples of Insect Folk Medicines will briefly be described which have subsequently led through the application of molecular and bioengineering techniques to the development of bioactive compounds with great potential as pharmaceuticals in modern medicine.

Insect products reviewed have been derived from honey, venom, silk, cantharidin, whole insect extracts, maggots, and blood-sucking arthropods. Drug activities detected include powerful antimicrobials against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and HIV, as well as anti-cancer, anti-angiogenesis and anti-coagulant factors and wound healing agents. Finally, the many problems in developing these insect products as human therapeutic drugs are considered and the possible solutions emerging to these problems are described…

Fig. 2.

Showing therapeutic efficacy of melittin-loaded nanoparticles in syngeneic B16F10 mouse melanoma tumours. Graph shows the increase in tumour volume of B16F10 melanoma tumours during the course of treatment with melittin-loaded nanoparticles (8.5 mg/kg) or controls (saline or nanoparticles alone; n = 5 each group). Photos show the dramatic differences in tumour volume at day 14 after 4 doses of melittin-loaded nanoparticles in comparison with the saline control. Data are represented as mean ± SD. Figure used with permission of American Society for Clinical Investigation and from, “Molecularly targeted nanocarriers deliver the cytolytic peptide melittin specifically to tumour cells in mice, reducing growth”, Soman et al., Journal of Clinical Invest, 119, 2830–2842, 2009, permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Propolis Source Demonstrates Anti-Aging Effects

Poplar Tree Leaf Bud Extract Could Fight Skin Aging
Medical News Today, 6/8/2011

Antioxidants are popular anti-aging ingredients in skin creams, and now scientists are reporting a new source of these healthful substances - leaf buds of poplar trees. Their study appears in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Xavier Vitrac and colleagues note that there's a long history of using poplar buds to treat various health problems, such as colds, sinusitis, sunburn and arthritis. A substance found in beehives that is made from poplar buds (called propolis) also appears to have similar disease-fighting benefits. Propolis' effects seem to be due to poplar bud compounds, but very little is known about these substances. To see whether poplar buds are a good source of antioxidants for skin creams, the researchers decided to test an extract from the buds.

The group found that poplar bud extract had moderate antioxidant activity, and it demonstrated anti-aging effects on cells in the laboratory…

Saturday, June 11, 2011

U.S. Researcher Studies Benefits of Propolis to Bee Immune Systems

The Benefits of Studying Bees
Live Science, 6/9/2011

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight Professor and Extension Entomologist in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Her research and extension efforts focus on honeybee health, breeding, behavior and on the sustainable management of alternative pollinators. She has bred the MN Hygienic line of honeybees, which demonstrates resistance to diseases and Varroamites.

Her current line of study centers on propolis, a plant-derived resin collected by bees; specifically the benefits of propolis to the immune system of bees, and antimicrobial properties of propolis against bee and human pathogens…

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review Outlines Properties of Principal Bee Venom Component

Melittin: A Membrane-Active Peptide with Diverse Functions
Bioscience Reports, Volume 27, Numbers 4-5, 189-223

Melittin is the principal toxic component in the venom of the European honey bee Apis mellifera and is a cationic, hemolytic peptide. It is a small linear peptide composed of 26 amino acid residues in which the amino-terminal region is predominantly hydrophobic whereas the carboxy-terminal region is hydrophilic due to the presence of a stretch of positively charged amino acids.

This amphiphilic property of melittin has resulted in melittin being used as a suitable model peptide for monitoring lipid–protein interactions in membranes.

In this review, the solution and membrane properties of melittin are highlighted, with an emphasis on melittin–membrane interaction using biophysical approaches. The recent applications of melittin in various cellular processes are discussed.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Propolis Extract Boosts Good Cholesterol

Ethanolic Extract of Propolis Promotes Reverse Cholesterol Transport and the Expression of ATP-Binding Cassette Transporter A1 and G1 in Mice
Lipids, 2011 Jun 3

The ethanolic extract of propolis (EEP) is beneficial in increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (HDL-C) and diminishing risks of atherosclerosis.

In this study, we examined the effects of EEP on reverse cholesterol transport in mice. (3)H -cholesterol laden macrophage was injected intraperitoneally into mice fed by gastric gavage with EEP. Plasma lipid level was determined and (3)H-cholesterol was traced in plasma, liver and feces. The effects of EEP on ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 and G1 (ABCA1 and ABCG1) and scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI) in mice liver and in cultured cells were also investigated. EEP administration led to a significant increase in HDL-C and peritoneal macrophage-original (3)H-cholesterol in plasma, liver and feces. Liver protein expressions of ABCA1 and ABCG1 were increased but SR-B1 was not. In vitro experiments with HepG2 and Raw264.7 cell lines confirmed the above results.

The finding of these studies shows that EEP-enhanced reverse cholesterol transport may have resulted from EEP stimulated plasma HDL level and hepatic ABCA1 and ABCG1 expression.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Water-Extracted Anatolian Propolis Has Analgesic Effect

Analgesic Effect of Anatolian Propolis in Mice
Agri, 2011 Apr;23(2):47-50.

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to assess the analgesic effect of Anatolian propolis, which is added to toothpastes as a prophylactic component for periodontal diseases.

Methods: Water-, ethanol- and acetone-extracted Anatolian propolis were prepared. The analgesic effect of the extracts was assessed using the tail-flick test in mice (n=6 per extract). Comparison among groups was made using one-way ANOVA, followed by post-hoc Scheffe test to determine significant differences among the means of the data groups. P<0.05 was accepted as indicating a significant difference.

Results: We found that water-extracted Anatolian propolis caused a significant increase, 1.61-fold (p<0.001 versus control), in the latency time using tail-flick test in mice. However, acetone-extracted and ethanol-extracted propolis led to no significant effect.

Conclusion: We proved the analgesic effect of water-extracted Anatolian propolis. Thus, propolis used in the composition of toothpastes may be beneficial in terms of its analgesic action in addition to its other favorable effects.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Group Formed to Promote Tasmanian Medicinal Honey

ABC, 6/6/2011

A consortium of commercial beekeepers has been formed to promote medically active honeys and hive products from Tasmania.

It's called the Tasmanian Active Honey Group, and the word 'active' refers to medicinal properties such as anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activity.

Julian Wolfhagen, from the Tasmanian Honey Company, one of the six businesses involved, says he wants to build consumer confidence in Tasmanian active hive products…

Bee Venom Therapy May Help Treat Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS

Effects of Bee Venom on Glutamate-Induced Toxicity in Neuronal and Glial Cells
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM), 30 May 2011

Bee venom (BV), which is extracted from honeybees, is used in traditional Korean medical therapy. Several groups have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of BV in osteoarthritis both in vivo and in vitro.

Glutamate is the predominant excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS). Changes in glutamate release and uptake due to alterations in the activity of glutamate transporters have been reported in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

To assess if BV can prevent glutamate-mediated neurotoxicity, we examined cell viability and signal transduction in glutamate-treated neuronal and microglial cells in the presence and absence of BV.

We induced glutamatergic toxicity in neuronal cells and microglial cells and found that BV protected against cell death. Furthermore, BV significantly inhibited the cellular toxicity of glutamate, and pretreatment with BV altered MAP kinase activation (e.g., JNK, ERK, and p38) following exposure to glutamate.

These findings suggest that treatment with BV may be helpful in reducing glutamatergic cell toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Honey Reduces Impact of Intensive Cycling Training on Spermatogenesis, Fertility

The Effects of Honey Supplementation on Seminal Plasma Cytokines, Oxidative Stress Biomarkers, and Anti-Oxidants During 8 Weeks of Intensive Cycling Training
J Androl, 2011 Jun 2

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of natural honey supplementation on seminal plasma cytokines, oxidative stress biomarkers, and anti-oxidants during 8 weeks of intensive cycling training in male road cyclists.

Thirty-nine healthy non-professional male road cyclists aged 18-28 years participated in this study. The participants were randomly assigned to exercise+supplement (E+S,n=20), and exercise (E,n=19) groups. All subjects participated in 8 weeks of intensive cycling training. Ninety minutes before each training session, subjects in the E+S group supplemented with 70 g of honey, while subjects in the E group received 70 g of an artificial sweetener. All subjects had an initial sampling at baseline (T1). The next six semen collections were collected immediately (T2); 12 (T3); and 24 hours (T4) after the last training session in week 4; as well as immediately (T5); 12 (T6); and 24 hours (T7) after the last training session in week 8, respectively.

In the E group eight weeks of intensive cycling training significantly increased the seminal interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels (P<0.008) and significantly decreased the levels of seminal superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and total anti-oxidant capacity (TAC) (P<0.008).

Significantly less elevation in the seminal IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α, ROS, and MDA levels (P<0.008) and significant increase in the seminal SOD, catalase and TAC concentrations observed after the honey supplementation in the E+S group (P<0.008).

It may be possible that the honey supplementation following long-term intensive cycling training would be effective in attenuating the probable aggravating effects of intensive cycling training on spermatogenesis and fertility capacity in the road cyclists.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Study Looks at Effect of Honey on Nutritional Rehabilitation of Patients with PEM

Effect of Honey Supplementation on the Phagocytic Function during Nutritional Rehabilitation of Protein Energy Malnutrition Patients
Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, Advance Access

Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is associated with a significant impairment of cell-mediated immunity, phagocyte function, complement system, secretory immunoglobulin A antibody concentrations and cytokine production [ 1]. Honey is a natural substance with a lot of benefits for nutrition and health especially enhancement of the immune system.

This study was thus designed to evaluate the effect of honey intake during the nutritional rehabilitation of patients with PEM on their phagocytic function.

Thirty PEM patients and 20 matching controls were enrolled in the study and the patients were randomly assigned to either one of two groups. Both groups entered conventional nutritional rehabilitation program for 2 weeks with the first group…

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Propolis Microparticles May Help Treat Vaginal Infections

Antifungal Activity of Brazilian Propolis Microparticles Against Yeasts Isolated from Vulvovaginal Candidiasis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 201953, 8 pages

Propolis, a resinous compound produced by Apis mellifera L. bees, is known to possess a variety of biological activities and is applied in the therapy of various infectious diseases.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro antifungal activity of propolis ethanol extract (PE) and propolis microparticles (PMs) obtained from a sample of Brazilian propolis against clinical yeast isolates of importance in the vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC).

PE was used to prepare the microparticles. Yeast isolates (n=89), obtained from vaginal exudates of patients with VVC, were exposed to the PE and the PMs. Moreover, the main antifungal drugs used in the treatment of VVC (Fluconazole, Voriconazole, Itraconazole, Ketoconazole, Miconazole and Amphotericin B) were also tested. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was determined according to the standard broth microdilution method. Some Candida albicans isolates showed resistance or dose-dependent susceptibility for the azolic drugs and Amphotericin B. Non-C. albicans isolates showed more resistance and dose-dependent susceptibility for the azolic drugs than C. albicans. However, all of them were sensitive or dose-dependent susceptible for Amphotericin B.

All yeasts were inhibited by PE and PMs, with small variation, independent of the species of yeast.

The overall results provided important information for the potential application of PMs in the therapy of VVC and the possible prevention of the occurrence of new symptomatic episodes.

…In conclusion, considering the antifungal activity showed by PMs and that the high ethanol concentration is a disadvantage of PE, this report clearly showed that PMs arises as a possible agent for the treatment and especially the prevention of the new symptomatic episode the VVC. Moreover PMs have the advantage of to be incorporated in some dosage forms, like vaginal ointments, and to be administered into the vaginal mucosa more easily and safely.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Review of Brazilian Propolis’ Composition, Medicinal Uses

Analytical Methods Applied to Diverse Types of Brazilian Propolis
Chemistry Central Journal, Published: 1 June 2011

Propolis is a bee product, composed mainly of plant resins and beeswax, therefore its chemical composition varies due to the geographic and plant origins of these resins, as well as the species of bee.

Brazil is an important supplier of propolis on the world market and, although green colored propolis from the southeast is the most known and studied, several other types of propolis from Apis mellifera and native stingless bees (also called cerumen) can be found.

Propolis is usually consumed as an extract, so the type of solvent and extractive procedures employed further affect its composition. Methods used for the extraction; analysis the percentage of resins, wax and insoluble material in crude propolis; determination of phenolic, flavonoid, amino acid and heavy metal contents are reviewed herein.

Different chromatographic methods applied to the separation, identification and quantification of Brazilian propolis components and their relative strengths are discussed; as well as direct insertion mass spectrometry fingerprinting.

Propolis has been used as a popular remedy for several centuries for a wide array of ailments. Its antimicrobial properties, present in propolis from different origins, have been extensively studied. But, more recently, anti-parasitic, anti-viral / immune stimulating, healing, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic activities of diverse types of Brazilian propolis have been evaluated.

The most common methods employed and overviews of their relative results are presented.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Brazilian Red Propolis Exhibits Antioxidant, Antimicrobial Activities

Brazilian Red Propolis: Unreported Substances, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Early View

BACKGROUND: Chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of a sample of red propolis from the state of Alagoas (northeast Brazil) were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography–diode array detection–electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities were also obtained.

RESULTS: The propolis sample contained low content of narigenin-8-C-hexoside, this being the first report of a C-glycoside in propolis. The main constituent found was characterized as 3,4,2′,3′-tetrahydroxychalcone. Other important constituents were the chalcone isoliquiritigenin, the isoflavans (3S)-vestitol, (3S)-7-O-methylvestitol, the pterocarpan medicarpin, the phenylpropenes trans-anethol, methyl eugenol, elimicin, methoxyeugenol and cis-asarone, and the triterpenic alcohols lupeol and α- and β- amyrins. The methanol extract exhibited high antioxidant activities by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl and β-carotene/linoleic acid assay methods, and antimicrobial activity toward Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
CONCLUSION: Structures are suggested for new substances never before seen in any kind of propolis. This is the first report of 3,4,2′,3′-tetrahydroxychalcone and a flavone C-glycoside in a propolis sample.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Strawberry Tree Honey Shows Antioxidant Activity

Antioxidant Profile of Strawberry Tree Honey and Its Marker Homogentisic Acid in Several Models of Oxidative Stress
Food Chemistry, Article in Press

The antioxidant activity of several honeys was evaluated considering the different contribution of entire samples.

The strawberry tree honey emerged as the richest in total phenols and the most active honey in the DPPH and FRAP tests, and could protect cholesterol against oxidative degradation (140 °C). Homogentisic acid (2,5-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, HGA), the main phenolic compound from strawberry tree honey, showed interesting antioxidant and antiradical activities, and protective effect against thermal-cholesterol degradation, comparable to those of well known antioxidants.

Moreover, the pre-treatment with HGA significantly preserved liposomes and LDL from Cu2+-induced oxidative damage at 37 °C for 2 h, inhibiting the reduction of polyunsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol and the increase of their oxidative products. This phenol had no toxic effect in human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells within the concentration range tested (5–1000 μM). HGA was able to pass through the Caco-2 monolayers, the apparent permeability coefficients (Papp) in the apical-to-basolateral and basolateral-to-apical direction were 3.48 ± 1.22 × 10-6 and 2.18 ± 0.34 × 10-6 cm/s, respectively, suggesting a passive diffusion pathway as the dominating process.

The results of the work qualify HGA as natural antioxidant, able to exert a significant in vitro protective effect and to contribute to the strawberry tree honey antioxidant activity.


• Strawberry tree honey protected in DPPH/FRAP tests, and cholesterol from degradation.
• Homogentisic acid, main phenolic compound of strawberry tree honey.
• The phenol protected in DPPH/FRAP tests, and cholesterol/fatty acids from oxidation.
Homogentisic acid showed no toxicity and passive diffusion in Caco-2 cell monolayers.
• Contribution of homogentisic acid to antioxidant activity of strawberry tree honey.