James Fearnley, the CEO of Nature’s Laboratory has dedicated most of his professional life to researching and producing natural medicines. These medicines are made from herbs, plants and bee products in particular a product called Propolis.
He has an outstanding understanding of Propolis, so much so that he has written a book on the topic and is the founder of the International Propolis Research Group. His passion and vast knowledge on holistic remedies is why he is the best person to explain more about what Propolis exactly is and what benefits it can provide our skin.
What is propolis?
People often know that propolis comes from bees, but don’t realise just how complex the substance is. Bees go to trees and plants where they collect a resin which they take back to the hive. This then gets mixed with wax produced from the bees’ stomach. They process this resin through their enzymatic system to produce this incredibly complex combination which is Propolis. Propolis is used in the beehive to create the bees immune defence mechanism, it is what keeps the beehive free from infection.
Want to know more? BeeVital have a long post getting into the detail of what propolis is!
What are the health benefits of propolis?
Propolis has many properties and is proven to be antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-tumoral and antioxidant. What it does for human beings though is that it helps them improve their own immune system, so really it does for humans what it does for the honeybee. Although it has these specific properties it doesn’t work like a pharmaceutical. It is not targeting bacteria like an antibiotic, but it works by boosting your whole immune system. This will allow the whole body to deal with bacteria and fungi.
How can propolis be used to treat skin conditions?
Propolis can be taken orally, this can help with acne and other skin problems as it will address the internal problem which has created the acne.
According to James, it is best to move away this idea of treating things on the surface as a symptom and look towards treating your whole body.
Why is propolis good for the skin?
Skin problems can arise in a number of different ways, they can be purely superficial problems so they may arise from some imbalance within your body so for instance, if you were treating something like acne propolis is really good as you can address it immediately on the surface of your skin.
Due to the antibacterial properties of propolis it can fight to prevent bacteria which causes acne, in addition will speed up the healing process post-acne. Propolis is good for your skin because it helps the body tackle the source of infection or inflammation.
Interesting facts about propolis
Propolis has been used throughout history, some Egyptian priests used it as a medicine because it was produced by the honeybee.
Propolis is a very complicated substance, it contains upwards of 300-400 different chemicals and those chemicals are different depending on where you find propolis. For example, if you find it in the South Sea Islands it has one set of chemicals, if you find it in Whitby it has a different set of chemicals. This is because the bees make it from the plants which are found in their local area.
The other interesting fact about this is just as folk law has said for hundreds of years, you are always best using the product from where it comes from because that’s where you get the local adaptation to local diseases and illnesses.
You have dedicated a lot of your professional life researching the benefits of Propolis, why do you feel so passionate about it?
I have always been in natural medicine for very personal reasons when I saw the impact of pharmaceuticals medicines in treating disease of someone very close to me. I have had a passion for wanting to explore different approaches to health since my teens. I had the opportunity around 30 years ago to start a company which was exploring propolis, I guess everything has come from that.
Why we use propolis in our skincare range
To put it simply, we feel it’s one of the most powerful natural ingredients that can be used in the struggle against problem skin.
We know how much dry/irritated/acne prone skin can affect your life. It can take a heavy toll on your self-confidence and general wellbeing. We feel so passionate about making products which can help alleviate some of these common complaints and as such, our Soothing Skin Cream has been formulated with several ingredients (including Propolis!) which are known to soothe, hydrate and heal problem skin. As James says, Propolis has some amazing anti inflammatory properties which means it’s fantastic for skin that needs a little extra love.
We chose other ingredients in the formula to compliment the healing power of Propolis including;
- Cocoa butter – contains antioxidants as well as key fatty acids which help to hydrate thirsty skin!
- Sweet Almond oil – naturally hypoallergenic which means it’s great for any cream that has been made for sensitive skin. Almond oil also contains a wide range of Vitamins (A and E), Zinc and fatty acids
- Hemp oil – Contains Omega 3 & 6 which are both essential fatty acids. These are not naturally produced by our body which is why it’s so important to work them into your routine. They aid in the maintenance of vital systems in our bodies, including the skin. Hemp is also amazing at penetrating the skin, to get achieve deep moisturisation.
Borage oil – contains the highest known source of gamma-Linolenic. This is a fatty acid which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lock moisture into the skin.
Shop our sister company's propolis range
Although we at Sweet Cecily’s love to use Propolis in our skin cream formulations, it doesn’t just have to be applied to the skin. As James mentions earlier in the blog, it has the wonderful capability of boosting the entire bodies immune system if taken orally. We don’t advise eating our Soothing Skin Cream (although it does look rather yummy!), so here is where our brilliant sister company, BeeVital comes in!
BeeVital and its team live downstairs in our warehouse! We don’t see ourselves as working for separate brands exactly, as we all work for Nature’s Laboratory Ltd. It is helpful though to have certain people who spearhead the production, dispatch and the research of products in the different areas of our business. We’ve found it incredibly helpful to have such a diverse range of ingredients at hand when formulating our products, too!
BeeVital use their expertise and knowledge to develop and manufacture a variety of cutting-edge natural medicines from the beehive. They have a whole range of Propolis products which are designed to help with a range of common health complaints.
The BeeVital range includes:
- Propolis Tablets
- Propolis Capsules
- Propolis Tinctures
- Propolis Liquids
- Propolis Toothpaste and Propolis Mouthwash
- Propolis Cream
- Propolis Lip Balm
Interestingly, Sweet Cecily’s worked together with BeeVital to reformulate and develop the Propolis Cream. We came up with the idea to add in Bentonite Clay to the formula, which gives it it’s silky smooth velvety feeling. Not only has it made the overall feeling of the cream improve, adding Bentonite Clay has meant that the cream is an even more powerful tool in your fight against spots and troubled skin. It has been reported that it can help control excess production of sebum in the skin, which can clog your pores and create spots. If this interests you, check out our post on Bentonite Clay and it’s uses.
The Propolis lip balm is also based on our very own Sweet Cecily’s winning formula which combines the moisture locking properties of Cocoa Butter (yes, we are definitely fans of Cocoa Butter, as you can tell!), Beeswax (we love the Bees!), Shea butter, Almond Oil and Calendula oil.
You may at this point be wondering what exactly a ‘Tincture’ is…. Well, let us explain!
A tincture is an herbal remedy made by soaking a combination of herbs (or a single herb) in ethyl alcohol and water, the point is to take the herbs active components out and put them into a concentrated form. The soaking process is rather long, often taking around 1-2 weeks. After it has been left to soak for the appropriate amount of time it gets bottled up. The bottle comes with a dropper so it can be easily added to drinks or food.
I know what you’re thinking, but what do people use tinctures for exactly? Well, the propolis tincture in particular offers health benefits for many common ailments and is a support to general good health.
For more information and to see BeeVitals tincture range head over to their website to see what is available.
If you’re interested in finding out more about propolis you can read James’s earlier book Propolis: Natural Healing from the Hive: Dispensary Press.
We would like to stress at this point that if you are sitting reading this with your own difficulties with problem skin, please do reach out and get in touch with us. We would love to help in any way that we can. Drop us an email; firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring in the office 01947 602346.
*Please note this blog is not intended to be medical advice; we would recommend consulting your doctor about diagnosis and treatment.