Propolis: The answer to antibiotic resistance?

From a press release we published on 23rd November 2021

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have recently published data which shows a reduction in antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections. But they warn that this drop is likely to be temporary, the result of reduced social mixing and enhanced hand hygiene due to the COVID pandemic. A company in Yorkshire think they’ve identified a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Research conducted in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University demonstrates that propolis, a natural substance produced by honey bees, has been shown to increase the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to drugs which have become ineffective.

Antibiotic Resistance has been named as one of the biggest threats to human health by WHO

UKHSA have suggested that as we head to winter, cold symptoms will be on the increase and may be more prevalent than in recent years. Antibiotics should not be used to treat these symptoms. Overuse or misuse of these antibiotics leads to accelerated antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to treatment. This can lead to very serious complications and hospitalisation. For the last several years the trend in antibiotic resistance has been consistently upward. This is because taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria to become resistant. Consequently, it has been reported as one of the most severe threats to public health by the World Health Organization.

What can be done to boost immunity and prevent antibiotic resistance? Nature’s Laboratory, based in Whitby, think the answer is to be found in propolis. Propolis is a sticky substance created by honey bees from tree and plant resins combined with wax. The bees use it to keep the hive free from infection – it’s a kind of external immune system. Propolis has been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years. Its antimicrobial activity against different bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and parasites is well documented and interest around its healing properties is growing around the globe.

Nature’s Laboratory have been at the forefront of research into propolis for the last 30 years. Now, in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University, they have been able to demonstrate that using propolis in conjunction with antibiotics is able to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. The evidence suggests that taking propolis and antibiotics together significantly increases the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to antibiotics which have become ineffective.

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory and propolis expert, said:

“This research is tremendously exciting. We’re hopeful that very soon we’ll have irrefutable evidence which demonstrates the power of propolis to heal, both in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs as a stand-alone remedy. Propolis has remarkable immune-boosting, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties – I’m delighted that we now have the evidence to show this.”

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory

Companies like Nature’s Laboratory are working on innovative solutions to complex healthcare issues. As the wintry weather arrives, it’s vital that consumers make informed decisions about their own healthcare. Taking antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria, resulting in dangerous complications. Propolis is a natural medicine which supports the body’s natural immune system, strengthening your ability to fight bacterial and viral infection.

For more information about propolis, please visit www.beevitalpropolis.com.

James Fearnley, the founder and CEO of Natures Laboratory Ltd has been researching the use of medicinal use of propolis for over 30 years. He has contributed to 30+ peer review research articles about propolis and has written two books:

He founded the Apiceutical Research Centre 11 years ago which stimulated the first international conferences on Propolis in Human and Bee Health at University of Strathclyde in 2016.

He founded the International Propolis Research Group in 2016 now at 150 strong community of academics researching propolis worldwide. In May this year the IPRG hosted an international conference “Propolis: Medicine for our Time?” which attracted over 400 attendees listening to 38 presentations about the multiple use of propolis including clinical research into the use of propolis in treating COVID and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Fearnley has conducted research showing that propolis is effective against MRSA.

Four Ways We’re Helping People Access Herbal Medicine

At Herbal Apothecary we are committed to the future of herbal medicine. We’ve recently announced four new projects which are all designed to improve access to herbal medicine. Here’s a brief overview with links to our website so you can find out more.

1. Herbal Access

We’re covering the cost of herbal prescriptions for those who need financial assistance.

Our Herbal Access programme is designed to help more people access herbal medicine by covering the cost of prescriptions. We know that the cost of herbal medicines can sometimes be prohibitive. This scheme allows practitioners to dispense herbal medicines to patients free of charge, and then claim back £8 in the form of a discount voucher code for our website.

Find out more

2. Get 10% Off For a Whole Year After Graduation

We want to help graduates get their practices established.

Have you recently graduated as a fully qualified medical herbalist? We want to give you 10% off every single online order for a whole year! Send us proof of your qualification and we’ll give you a year-long discount code to help you get your herbal practice off the ground.

3. Advertise For Free on our Website!

Benefit from increased exposure by advertising your business for free with us.

We’ve just created a brand-new practitioner directory as part of our website. With our growing social media reach we’re receiving an increasing number of enquiries about specific remedies, or from people looking to speak to a herbalist. We want to be able to point these people towards fully qualified herbal practitioners. If you are a practicing herbalist you can advertise for free on our website.

Click here to view the directory and follow the links to add your own listing.

4. Website and Graphic Design Services

We can help with your website development and marketing.

Our team was joined by Jack Barber and Caleb Wilson in the spring. Since then they’ve been hard at work getting our own websites, internal IT systems and social media into shape. As part of our commitment to the future of herbal medicine we want to help practitioners with their own online marketing activities. If you need help with your website, graphic design or support getting your social media up and running we can help.

A charge will be made for this service to cover our time.

Tiny Shoot

There’s Always More To Do…

These four projects demonstrate our commitment to the future of herbal medicine. But there’s always more we can do. That’s why we are constantly looking for ways to improve the products and services we offer, as well as ensuring we operate in a way which is both socially and environmentally responsible way. Click the links below to find out more:

Herb Mark – The Good Herbal Manufacture and Supply Standard

The objective of the Herb Mark accreditation is to provide customers, that manufacturers and distributors who are accredited are working to best practice thus delivering a quality and safe product. The Good Herbal Manufacturing and Supply Standard is a combination of conventional GMP for pharmaceuticals and Food Safety Standard.

The standard was developed by a combination of 40 years GMP and Food Safety Standards experience supplemented by site visits to herbal product manufacturing companies to gain an understanding of their processes.

The result is an easy to follow and useful assessment tool to enable organisations to carry out a gap analysis which will then drive a continuous improvement program establishing best practice. Organisations will be audited against this standard on a regular basis, typically every two years.

The key elements are as follows:

  1. Quality Management System: A defined and workable system, commensurate with the complexity of the business. This is supported by a quality policy endorsed by the senior management. This will include risk assessment and HACCP.
  2. Personnel: Adequately resourced. All staff to be suitably qualified, trained with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  3. Premises and Equipment: Premises and equipment must be located, designed, constructed, adapted and maintained to suit the operations to be carried out.
  4. Documentation: All documents need to be controlled and reviewed. Designed to be easily understood, providing clear and unambiguous information.
  5. Production: All processes to be clearly defined with supporting procedure sand work instructions.
  6. Quality: Ensuring all materials, intermediates, and finished products meet their specification with regards to safety and quality
  7. Out-Sourced Activities: Managing suppliers and contractors, with documented agreements defining responsibilities and deliverables.
  8. Complaints and Recalls: Formalised process for dealing with customer complaints and non- conformances.
  9. Self- Inspection: Self-evaluation and monitoring through internal audits

By following these guidelines and principles, incorporating risk management, and planned change control, the result will be right first time, delivering to the customer a safe and quality product.

The Herbal Apothecary Team

Here at Herbal Apothecary, behind the scenes, we have an amazing team manufacturing, researching, developing products, and more.

In operations we have Hugo Fearnley, Sales Director, who has been with the company for a great number of years. Hugo has extensive knowledge of our products and works with existing and new customers to deliver great service and develop professional relationships so we can meet each client’s individual needs. Hugo has been a familiar, friendly and trustworthy face over the years to our customers who we’ve had the pleasure to do business with.

Jon Wells is operations manager, and oversees the day-to-day running of the factory, from purchasing to production planning, Jon has been with us for a number of years and has been a huge asset to our company’s operation.

Tom Cull recently joined us in 2021, Tom is our production and dispatch manager, Tom has a degree in civil engineering and is undergoing extensive production training and learning more about the business. Tom has already proved himself to be a valuable member of our team and continues to impress us.

Tom Cull

In our research and design department, we have Shankar Katekhaye. Shankar has been working with us for a number of years, he’s a highly qualified chemist with much experience and oversees quality control, research and the development of the product formulations. Shankar can help develop new products for clients, finding a formulation which works for everyone. Shankar works across not only Herbal Apothecary, but BeeVital and Sweet Cecily’s too, really utilising his skillset in driving forwards research and product development.

Our production team includes Sean Lennon, Andrew Burgess and Chris Buckley. The production team is responsible for producing our herbal fluid extracts and tinctures, alongside labelling and bottling products, they work hard to ensure we have enough of our products to supply to all of our new and existing clients! The production team is vital to our operations in Whitby, North Yorkshire. As is Richard Locker, who works in dispatch, and is one of the companies longest serving employees – Rich ensures all of our orders and processed and sent out on time.

If you’ve ever given us a call, you may have been greeted on the other end of the line by Angela Watts and Nikki Archer, both work in our sales office handling telephone enquiries, helping customers, answering their enquiries, processing orders and more.

Nikki Archer

If you’ve been on our website recently, you may have noticed our new herbal product calculator, developed in-house by director of online sales and company director Jack Barber. Jack has been working on innovative ways for us to move into future of herbal medicine. Our new product calculator allows customers to formulate their own tinctures, capsules and powder blends to their own specification. Jack has also been working on some of our production processes to make them more time and energy efficient by using artificial intelligence and computer systems. We’re always looking at ways to improve how we operate, hopefully creating a new and improved herbal future. Also working on our IT systems and websites is Caleb Wilson, maintaining our websites. He is a full-stack developer, tackling everything from front and back-end development to SEO and website performance.

Our CEO, James Fearnley, is also heavily involved in the running of the company. James works closely with our team to create new products, develop our research efforts and move the company forwards in a positive and innovative direction. You can find out more about James Fearnley here.

James Fearnley

Our board of directors is comprised of some of the names above, but also includes Anant Paradkar, professor of pharmaceutical engineering at the University of Bradford, who has extensive experience of medicines and has supervised 10 PhD and 45 MPharm candidates and published over 90 research papers. Currently, he is supervising/co-supervising 15 PhD students in various areas of research. Professor Paradkar works with Herbal Apothecary in developing new products, helping with funding opportunities, supporting our research efforts and more. Our board of directors is dedicated to the idea of creating a new herbal future, furthering research, supporting the herbal industry, creating innovative products and manufacturing processes and more.

With Herbal Apothecary operating from Nature’s Laboratory, we also work closely with our other brands, Sweet Cecily’s which produces natural skincare and BeeVital, our propolis brand, as a united front, this helps us come up with new innovations which can be implemented across the company, sharing expertise and creating healthy professional relationships. At the time of writing, we don’t have any job openings within the company, however do keep an eye on the ‘work with us’ section of our website where we’ll post any future job openings to the public.

Why Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is the use of plants and plant extracts to treat disease or ailments. Many modern pharmaceuticals use compounds found in plants, although these days they are generally created synthetically. Modern drugs focus on utilizing only the perceived active ingredient in a plant, whereas herbal medicine uses the plant, or parts or the plant, as a whole. There are arguments that point to the mixture of chemicals in a plant as a whole work together to produce a more desirable effect than a single active ingredient.

Healing with plants predates records and is a practice not only used by humans but other animals which are naturally drawn to certain plants to help them maintain their health. The first recorded use of herbal medicine dates back approximately 5000 years ago. Evidence was found on a clay Sumerian slab from Nagpur. It comprised of 12 recipes for medicine preparation and references over 250 different plants. Traditional Indian herbal medicine is called Ayurvedic medicine. We stock a wide range of Ayurvedic herbs.

The Chinese book “Pen T’Sao”, which was written by Emperor Shen Nung approximately 2500 BC references over 365 dried parts of medicinal plants, many of which are still used to this day, including Rhei rhisoma, camphor, Theae folium, Podophyllum and more such as jimson weed, ginsend, cinnamon bark, and ephedra. At Herbal Apothecary we stock a range of Chinese herbs, herbal tinctures and fluid extracts. Throughout history there has been a notable use of herbal medicine across cultures and civilisations, with references in the Indian holy books and the Bible.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In the Middle Ages, cultivation and preparation of medicines had moved towards monasteries, where most therapies were based on 16 medicinal plants. The monks at such monasteries commonly grew sage, anise, mint, Greek seed, savory, tansy and more. Charles the Great (742-814 AD) founded a medical school in Salerno, made an order dictating which medicinal plants were to be grown on state-owned land. Around 100 plants were quoted to be grown, many of which are still used today such as sage, sea onion, mint, common centaury, poppy and more. Charles the Great was said to especially appreciate sage (Salvia officinalis L.), which was named so in Latin as it was referred to as a salvation plant (with salvare meaning “save, cure”). Even in modern times, sage is a mandatory plant in all Catholic monasteries.

Historically in the Arab world, numerous plants were used in herbal medicine, mostly from India where there were good trade relations. Many of the medicinal plants used by the Arabs then are still in use today, some of these include aloe, deadly nightshade, henbane, coffee, ginger, saffron, pepper, cinnamon and senna. European physicians in the Middle Ages often consulted Arab works such as “De Re Medica” (John Mesue, 850 AD), “Canon Medicinae” (Avicenna, 980-1037 AD) and “Liber Magnae Collectionis Simplicum Alimentorum Et Medicamentorum” (Ibn Baitar 1197-1248 AD), where over 1000 medicinal plants were described.

In the 18th century, Linnaeus (1707-1788 AD) decided to create the work “Species Plantarium” (1753 AD) to provide short descriptions and classifications of species which had previously been described. Plants were described and named without taking into consideration previous descriptions and names. Most plant names up to this point used a polynominal system, where the first word denoted the genus, whilst the latter polynominal phrase described other features of the plant. Linnaeus changed the naming system into a binominal one. The name of each species consisted of the genus name, with an initial capital letter, and the species name, with an initial small letter.

Herbal Medicine Research

In the early 19th century there was a scientific breakthrough concerning the discovery, substantiation and isolation of alkaloids from the poppy, quinine, pomegranate and other plants. With the improvements made to chemical methods, other active substances were discovered such as tannins, vitamins, hormones and more. This showed the different chemical make-up of different plants and how this would have an effect on their uses. In the late 19th century and early 20th century there was a looming danger that medicinal plants may be eliminated from therapy. Some authors wrote of perceived shortcomings of drugs obtained from plants, due to enzymes and their destructive action during the drying of medicinal plants, noting that healing action may depend on the mode of drying.At the turn of the 21st century, 11% of the World Health Organisation’s list of 252 drugs considered ‘basic and essential’ were exclusively of flowering plant origin, which shows the use of herbal medicine has most definitely not been lost, and is still relevant to this day. Herbal medicine comes from natures own laboratory, naturally occurring solutions to our health. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, currently use herbal medicine for some of their health care. Thirty percent of the US population uses herbal remedies each year. In the past 10 years, the use of herbal supplements has grown over 380%.

Herbal medicine can be useful on its own to support our immune systems and to help with ailments. However, our immune systems are three dimensional, meaning their function relies not only on the physical health and the things we consume, but also our social and cultural health. Where we lack in one dimension there is a profound impact on the system as a whole. Herbal medicine can be used alongside other forms of treatment to support and maintain a healthy immune system. The ‘medicine’ so to speak, is more than just a consumable, and until relatively recently this was a widespread and understood idea – our health, immune system, mood etc. are a reflection of our physical, social and cultural wellbeing. In more recent years, the idea that our social and cultural wellbeing can affect our physical health has been somewhat brushed under the rug. This has resulted in the root causes of problems which individuals experience (such as social isolation) not being addressed and instead they are given treatment which widely involves being prescribed a synthetic drug.

There are several problems with this approach of which the consequences can been quite clearly today. Bacteria has evolved to become resistant to our modern antibiotics, which humans have become increasingly dependant on. The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths each year in Europe; together with around 128,000 deaths each year in the US. Consequently around 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe together die from prescription drugs each year. Another problem is the efficacy of prescription drugs is much lower than would like to be admitted, Dr Allen Roses (Ex Vice-President of GSK) has said “The vast majority of drugs – more than 90% – only work in 30-50% of the people”.

Herbal medicine has been utilised since humans existed, we know instinctively what our bodies need and what we should avoid. As observations have been made over the years it has become apparent which plants are best at treating certain ailments, which ones support our general health and which plants should be avoided. We have known for millennia the importance of social and cultural interactions too. Together these things all contribute to our health as a whole, but without one the others are weakened. It’s no surprise that the herbal medicine market is beginning to boom again, which significant growth projected over the coming years. Perhaps the COVID-19 situation has opened people up to prophylactic treatment using natural remedies to boost their immune system, or perhaps the wider public are again being drawn back towards what is, and always was natures solution to our physical health.

Herbal Apothecary – Based in Whitby, North Yorkshire

Enjoy our video about Whitby

Whitby is famous for many things. From the historic Abbey, to the seafaring legacy of Captain James Cook, to being inspiration for Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ to being regularly voted the UK’s top seaside destination. Whitby has a lot going for it!

Whitby is also home to Nature’s Laboratory, the parent company of Herbal Apothecary. Established in the town over 20 years ago by CEO, James Fearnley, Nature’s Laboratory is a thriving manufacturing business.

We wanted to share some of the highlights of living and working in this beautiful part of the country. We produced the above video, using wonderful aerial footage taken by a local aerial photography company, Njord Sky Drones.

Surrounded by such beatiful scenery, in such a popular part of the country, we’re constantly reminded what a privilege it is to live in Whitby and the local area. Some of our team live in Whitby itself, while others live in local villages including Goathland and Danby.

The North York Moors National Park surrounds Whitby on three sides – with the fourth side being exposed to the North Sea. Whitby truly is surrounded by some of the most amazing coastal scenery, home to wonderful wildlife including dolphins, whales and many kinds of sea birds.

Even the industrial estate which is home to our factory where we produce our herbal tinctures, bee medicines and natural skincare products is surrounded by green fields, trees and farmland.

We’re biased, of course, but we think Whitby is the best place to live and work!

A Brief History of the Herbal Apothecary

Herbal Apothecary has been in existence since the early 1990’s. James Fearnley, owner of Herbal Apothecary and CEO of Nature’s Laboratory, despite training as a lawyer has spent the last 30 years involved with researching and manufacturing natural medicines derived from both the beehive and from plants. For the last 20 years he has focused on trying to understand the remarkable properties of propolis, a resinous product used by the bee to keep the hive free from infection, but has always maintained his interest in herbal medicines also. Over this period, he has carried out research at the universities of Oxford, Manchester, Strathclyde, York and Bradford and has published a number of peer reviewed articles. He is also the author of ‘Bee Propolis: Natural Healing from the Hive’ and ‘Propolis in Oral Healthcare with Dr. Phil Wander’.

James became involved in Herbal Apothecary in 1998 when it was based in the midlands. James worked here for several years before purchasing the company in 2005, and moving it to its new headquarters in the scenic coastal town of Whitby, which resides in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park – comprised of extensive moorland, a jagged coast, ancient woods and timeless villages. The North York Moors is a special place, forged by nature and shaped over generations. After the move to Whitby, Herbal Apothecary was incorporated into Nature’s Laboratory. We then moved to build a modern manufacturing and research facility on the East side of Whitby, which was opened in 2008 by champion of plant medicine, David Bellamy OBE – researcher, conservationist, writer and TV presenter.

Research Driven Natural Products

James wanted to focus on understanding natural medicines and move us away from viewing them as simply folk remedy. In light of this, James decided to push towards the scientific research of natural medicines. Nature’s Laboratory was the first company ever to receive a ‘Smart Grant’ from the UK government to research a natural product. After receiving this award, years were spent researching the potential of propolis, a product of bees, as a natural medicine.

Research into this area still continues to this day, with the more recent creation of the International Propolis Research Group (IPRG) of which James founded along with other passionate researchers. The IPRG recently held an online conference which had attendees from around 90 countries and was an overwhelming success. As much as we’d have liked to hold a physical conference, the current situation with the ongoing pandemic deemed this impossible, however with help from a team of dedicated individuals, the conference was able to take place using an online format, and has opened us up to the idea of holding ‘hybrid’ conferences in the future, a mix of physical and virtual, which will give those unable to travel or short on time to be part of future events by using our online capabilities.

BeeVital Propolis Tablets

Natural Skincare

Although James has been the main focus of this article so far, his family has also been involved with Herbal Apothecary since the late 1990s when James became a Director. At that time Hugo and Cecily Fearnley, James’ children, used to work in the company during school holidays, earning extra pocket money by bottling herbal tinctures. As years passed by, Hugo became heavily involved in Herbal Apothecary, helping with the day-to-day operations, leadership and development of Nature’s Laboratory.

Cecily has also been involved with company and later decided that she wanted to create her own natural skincare brand, and so ‘Sweet Cecily’s’ was born, to supply natural cosmetics which contain the absolute minimum of nasty chemicals and additives – her vision was to create products which were almost good enough to eat! We are proud of the fact that we are a family run business wholly committed to the principals of natural medicine.

Some of the Sweet Cecily’s Natural Skincare Range


Our factory is now equipped with both production and research facilities, where we study and produce both herbal medicines and bee medicines (also known as apiceuticals). Herbal Apothecary produce one of the largest ranges of high-quality practitioner herbal products in the UK. Many of the products developed with practitioners are now available to trade customers and the wider public.

More recently, there has been a growing interest in equine herbal medicine, which is a growing market as people are becoming aware of the amazing properties which natural herbal medicines provide. We hope to be at the forefront of this sector and continue to develop the products which customers require.

At Herbal Apothecary we’re not merely just a sales team, we’re much more than that. We’re driving research into the properties of natural medicine, we develop new and innovative products. We supply practitioners, the public and are also contract manufacturers for herbal products. With the facilities to create unique products for those in trade wanting to create their own natural herbal products. This year we will be introducing an online contract manufacturing calculator, where you’ll be able to calculate the cost of manufacturing products meeting your specific requirements, from tinctures to supplement capsules – we have our own in-house researchers who can formulate new concoctions and ensure they meet the high standards which we hold ourselves to.

Community Involvement

James is also committed to social and cultural change, and uses his platform to help others in the community. One example of this is The Dispensary in Whitby, a not-for-profit community interest company, which aims to improve the communities physical, cultural, social, spiritual, economic and emotional health. The Dispensary may appear to be another health food shop, but it is much more. We run a shop (physical and online), organise events, courses, groups.

We help people connect with each other and with what makes them feel healthy, we encourage discussion and debate around all aspects of health, we help people connect with groups and organisations that bring social quality to our lives, we set up local initiatives and encourage and help others to set up their own, we provide the community with high quality information about every aspect of primary, natural healthcare.

Things don’t stop there either, James is also involved in a variety of different campaigns and companies, such as ‘We Are Whitby’ and ‘The Campaign for Real Care’. We Are Whitby wishes to build a healthier local community for all through mutually supportive relationships between responsible local businesses, social groups, cultural groups and individuals in Whitby and the local area. Part of that involves organising and running community-based events such as ‘Winterfest’ which has gained a lot of traction over the years. The Campaign for Real Care has supported the very heart of Botton Village – a unique social impulse providing real care for people with learning disabilities, which is under threat from a regulatory system that seems unable to recognise its real values and ethos.

As you can see, Herbal Apothecary is part of something much larger. It is part of a collective of socially, culturally and economically responsible companies, campaigns and projects which aim to bring about real change in this world we live in. We believe in real change and have embraced this in our approach to business, hopefully creating a foundation for other companies and individuals to join us on our journey for healthier, happier and closer communities.

Whitby, on the North Yorkshire Coast

What’s Next for Herbal Apothecary?

This is our story so far, but it is far from the end. It is our belief that there is much more to be accomplished in the future. We strive to continue growing and provide quality, ethical services to business and the wider public. We hope you’re able to follow us as we continue on this journey!

Propolis Online Conference 2021

An Online Conference all about Propolis – Thursday 27th May & Friday 28th May 2021

Propolis has been used as a medicine since Egyptian times. Modern science has explored its many anti – properties in particular the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of a substance that provides the honeybee with its unique immune defence. The Covid Crisis has seen a renewed interest in this remarkable substance. The IPRG Online Conference will explore the following areas.

  1. The use of propolis in clinical trials
  2. The chemical and biological properties of propolis
  3. The use of propolis as a therapeutic – apitherapy
  4. Setting standards including international standards for propolis
  5. The impact of increased demand for propolis on honeybee populations

Keynote Speakers and Talks

James Fearnley

Bio

James Fearnley is Founder Director of ARC (Apiceutical Research Centre), Co-founder Director of IPRG and Global Bee Medicine Group, Founder Director of The BeeArc Project and CEO of Nature’s Laboratory.

Talk: Propolis: Medicine for the future

The problem of Multi Drug Resistant bacteria has reached alarming levels . The problem is twofold. Not only are antibiotics failing to deal with ever new and more powerful strains of bacteria, but our natural immune defence mechanisms are failing too as a result of overuse of antibiotics, illustrated by the increasing problem of autoimmune deficiency diseases.

Slowly attention may be turning away from the development of ever more powerful (and more damaging) antibiotics back to exploring ways in which human beings can support, protect and stimulate their own natural defences .

Propolis has been used for millennia in the treatment of disease. Modern research has explored a bewildering variety of anti – properties for propolis. Propolis is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal,  antitumoral and others. But propolis does not work by destroying but rather by disabling and balancing – supporting the natural ability of the body to deal with bacteria, inflammation, fungi and so on. Research in Russia going back nearly 50 years showed that propolis combined with antibiotics had a remarkable and positive effect. Recent research would seem to confirm the effect of combining antibiotic and propolis. Are we on the brink of creating a new genre of medicines which combine the destroyers with the disablers.

Professor Ali Timucin

Bio

Prof. Dr. Ali Timucin Atayoglu is a consultant medical doctor and a lecturer in Medipol University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is the president of the International Federation of Apitherapy. He is currently the president of Apitherapy Association in Turkey and the vice-chairman of Apitherapy Commission in China.

He is a member of the Scientific Committee for the Traditional & Complementary Medical Practices in the Turkish Health Ministry. He is also the chairman of the Holistic and Integrative Medicine Association in Turkey.

Talk: L-Lactic Acid: An Alternative Solvent to Ethanol for Propolis Extraction

The active substances of propolis are easily soluble in ethanol. However, ethanolic extracts cannot be used in the treatment of certain conditions. The main bioactive substances of propolis are less soluble in other solvents used in the pharmaceutical industry. L-Lactic acid is a non-toxic, bio-based, weak acid which is also approved as a food additive with no ADI value. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the phenolic compounds, and antioxidant activity analyses of propolis extracted by using lactic acid in comparison with ethanol. Extracts were prepared in different concentrations (10, 20, 30 and 40 %) for comparison. Phenolic compounds were determined in the obtained solutions by LC-MS/MS procedure and antioxidant activity analyses were performed by DPPH and CUPRAC methods. 

It was determined that the total phenolic content in the 40% propolis-lactic acid solution was significantly higher than the ethanol-propolis solution of the same concentration (p<0.05). In addition, with the CUPRAC method, there was no difference in the antioxidant capacities between ethanol and lactic acid solutions of that concentration. The results suggest that lactic acid may be used as an alternative to ethanol for propolis extraction.

Dr. Vincenzo Zaccaria

Bio

Dr. Vincenzo Zaccaria has a PhD in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and two Master’s Degrees from The University of Pavia (Italy) working on propolis. He is the R&D and Technical Manager of B Natural, author of scientific papers and communications on propolis and Professor in academic and advanced courses.

Talk: Standardized propolis on upper respiratory tract infections in humans

The most common symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are sore throat, muffled dysphonia, and swelling and redness of the throat, which result from the inflammation process following acute bacterial or viral infection.

As propolis is a natural resinous substance traditionally used to maintain oral cavity and upper respiratory tract health due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of an oral spray based on poplar-type propolis extract with a known and standardized polyphenol content, on the remission of the symptoms associated with mild uncomplicated URTIs.

Dr. Sevda Demir

Bio

Dr. Sevda Demir is a PhD candidate in Biotechnology, specialization in Virology at Yeditepe University. She is working with RNA and DNA viruses on the basis of method developement, antiviral activity, viral vaccine and oncogenic viruses. Lastly, she worked as a reseacher in Gamma Irradiated COVID-19 vaccine project which is one of the vaccine candidate of Turkey.

Talk: Evaluation of Antiviral Activities of different Standardized Propolis Extracts

Viral infections are a common problem seen in general healthcare practice. Natural products offer great promise as potentially effective antiviral drugs. Propolis is a honeybee product with biological properties and therapeutic applications. We aimed to investigate the antiviral activity of different extracts of Standardized Propolis Preparations (M.E.D.®) with glycol, ethanol, glycerol, and soya oil, against herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) viruses.

It was determined that standardized propolis preparations have antiviral bioactivity against HSV.

Bottle of propolis liquid, flowers and propolis granules.
Propolis

Professor Marla Spivak

Bio

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. She has been beekeeping since 1974 and has always been interested in ways to enhance the health and diversity of bees. Her research efforts focus on protecting and enhancing the health of bees through social immunity.

Talk: Propolis and the Honey Bee Microbiome

Colonies of Apis mellifera nesting in tree cavities line the nest interior with a propolis envelope, which provides waterproofing, prevents fungal decay of the hive walls and helps promote stable temperature and humidity. 

Our research revealed an additional, important function: honey bees exploit the antimicrobial properties of resins to supplement individual immune function and fight off microorganisms and pathogens. Studies on the microbiota of bees reared in colonies with or without a propolis envelope revealed that propolis exposure reduced the pathogenic or opportunistic microbes and promoted the proliferation of putatively beneficial microbes that support immune function. 

These results indicate that propolis acts as a selective agent mitigating the microbiome structure and size, rather than a general agent affecting all microbes.

Professor Miguel Boas Villas

Bio

Miguel Vilas-Boas is a Professor in Chemistry of Natural Products and Director of the Agrarian School of the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Portugal. As a researcher in the Mountain Research Centre his goals are focused on beekeeping technology, organic beekeeping and particularly the quality evaluation of bee products.

Currently, he is the leader of the propolis group at the International Honey Commission, member of the board of directors of the Apiceutical Research Centre, Vice-President of the scientific commission on beekeeping technology and quality of APIMONDIA and the Portuguese representative in the ISO committee for bee products standardization.

Talk: Setting International Standards

The international trade of propolis and its recognition as raw material for food and pharmaceutical applications relies on a global recognition of its specifications and clear parameters to certify its composition and quality. 

To fulfil these needs ISO established a working group on propolis, within the subcommittee on bee products. With 62 international participants from 17 countries, the publication of the international standard is expected by October 2022, and is planned to establish consensual terms, including the definition of poplar, baccharis and dalbergia/clusia propolis, analytical method for propolis analysis, quality parameters specifications, and requirements for packing, labelling, storage and transportation.

Dr. Andresa Berretta

Bio

Dr. Berretta is a Biochemical Pharmacist, with Masters, Doctor and Post-doctoral Degrees from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo (FCFRP/USP). She is the Vice-President of ABEMEL since 2016 (Brazilian Association of Honey Exporters).

She is Head of Research, Development and Innovation, member of the Board of Directors and Pharmacist Responsible at Apis Flora Indl. Coml. Ltda – Propolis Leader Company in Brazil (IMS Health, 2018). Up to September 2019 she had more than 32 scientific articles, 5 book chapters and 7 patents.

Talk: Propolis EPP-AF reduced the time of hospitalization in COVID-19 patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in propolis products worldwide. Propolis components have inhibitory effects on the ACE2, TMPRSS2 and PAK1 signalling pathways; in addition, antiviral activity has been proven in vitro and in vivo. 

In pre-clinical studies, propolis promoted immunoregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including reduction in IL-6, IL-1 beta and TNF-α. In a randomized, controlled, open-label, single-centre trial, 124 hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients were treated with a standardized green propolis extract EPP-AF® as an adjunct therapy. Patients received standard care plus an oral dose of 400 mg or 800 mg/day of EPP-AF® for seven days, or standard care alone. Standard care included all necessary physician directed interventions. 

The length of hospital stay post-intervention was shorter in both propolis groups than in the control group. In the high dose propolis group, there was a lower rate of acute kidney injury than in the controls. Consequently, we conclude that propolis can reduce the impact of COVID-19.

Professor Vassya Bankova

Bio

Vassya Bankova obtained her PhD in Natural Product Chemistry at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia. She has worked as a guest-researcher at the Ruhr University – Bochum, the University of Saarland, Saarbruecken, the Bandeirante University, Sao Paulo, and the Institute of Molecules of Biological Interest, Naples.

In 2004 she became full professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre of Phytochemistry, where she is now head of Lab “Chemistry of Natural Substances”.

Talk: “Green” Approach to Obtaining Bioactive Propolis Extracts: Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents

Natural deep eutectic solvents (NADES) are a new alternative to toxic organic solvents. Their constituents are primary metabolites, non-toxic, biocompatible and sustainable. 

In this study five selected NADES were applied for the extraction of propolis as an alternative to water-alcohol mixtures, and the antimicrobial and antioxidant potential of the extracts were studied. Our results confirm the potential of NADESs for extraction of bioactive constituents from propolis and suggest that NADES can improve the effects of extracted bioactive substances. 

Further studies are needed to clarify in detail the influence of the NADES on the bioactivity of the extracts, and their potential to be used in the pharmaceutical and food industry.

Dr. Dave Watson

Bio

Dr Dave Watson has worked in the fields of mass spectrometry and chromatography for nearly 40 years. He has applied these techniques to a wide range of problems in the fields of natural products analysis and clinical chemistry. In the last ten years he has focused on metabolomics and was the local organiser for the 2013 Metabolomics conference in Glasgow.

He has worked on propolis for the last eleven years and is particularly interested in its activity against infectious diseases which are prevalent in the developing world.

Talk: The antiprotozoal activity of propolis

During the past ten years we have investigated the antiprotozoal activity of propolis. In our most recent work, ethanolic extracts of four samples of propolis from the UK and one from Poland were tested against three strains of Trypanosoma brucei. The extracts displayed EC50 values of < 20 µg/ml against T. brucei. The extracts were fractionated by using several chromatographic techniques and this resulted in the isolation of 13 compounds and one two component mixture which were characterized by NMR and high-resolution mass spectrometry. 

The isolated compounds were tested against three strains of T. brucei and two strains of Leishmania mexicana. Most of the isolated compounds had EC50 values of < 100 µM. The most active compounds against T. brucei were 4’,7 naringenin dimethylether and 4’methoxy kaempferol with activity of ca 20 µM against the three strains of T. brucei. The most active compound against L. mexicana was the coumaric acid ester mixture.

Dr. Felix Zuhlendri

Bio

Felix Zulhendri, Ph.D is the owner and operator of Kebun Efi. Kebun Efi is an award-nominated agritourism company located in North Sumatra, Indonesia, that focuses on developing bee products; propolis in particular and nomadic-style tourism. Prior to managing Kebun Efi, Felix spent most of his professional career in New Zealand in the R&D and Patents Law fields.

Talk: Propolis in Metabolic Syndrome and its chronic diseases

Propolis has a wide range of therapeutic and health benefits for humans ranging from antimicrobial, anti-inflammation, antioxidant, and anticancer. This talk will present the therapeutic benefits of propolis in metabolic syndrome and its chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and Alzheimer’s disease), with particular emphasis on human clinical trials and the common denominators on how propolis works therapeutically on those disorders. 

The talk will also present the research that has been carried out by our group investigating the propolis of Indonesian stingless bees.

Dr. Stefan Stangaciu

Bio

Stefan Stangaciu is a medical doctor who has devoted most of his life to developing and supporting Apitherapy – the therapeutic use of bee products.

He is an active teacher and broadcaster, writing and delivering courses and talks on Apitherapy round the world bringing to Apitherapy a level of medical recognition to this age old but medicine.

He is Secretary General of the International Federation of Apitherapy and has founded / co-founded chaired or been a board member of many Apitherapy Associations including those in America, Germany, and in his home country Romania where he has been very influential.

Publications include: Soft Healing Through Bee Products, Gentle Healing with Honey, Propolis and Beeswax and Good Health with the Bees.

Talk: Use of Propolis in Clinical Medicine. A Short Review

Our aim was to find common characteristics, rules and principles of the use of propolis in clinical medicine. We studied papers from over 30 countries and reviewed all major apitherapy congresses from around the previous 30 years. The main topics studied were propolis geobotanical origin, uses in the beehive, physico-chemical characteristics, composition, pharmacological effects, indications, contra-indications, administration, preparations, and products. We also had discussions with scientists and practitioners that study/use propolis regularly. 

Following this we corroborated everything with our own clinical experience and that of many colleagues globally. Results showed that propolis can offer over seventy useful properties and many uses in clinical medicine, both as a preventative and as curative agent in human and veterinary medicine, in addition to other benefits. We concluded that propolis is an extraordinary “tool” in the hands of a well-informed practitioner/beekeeper. The main clinical “secrets” are the use of various propolis extracts for specific diseases/problems of individuals, and the administration through all anatomical routes, especially in emergencies or in very complex pathologies.

Professor Badiaâ Lyoussi

Bio

Pr Badiaa Lyoussi has a good experience over 30 years in the physiopathology and pharmacology of natural products from medicinal plants.

She has more than 120 scientific publications and chapters in books in many areas, including:

  • Acute and chronic toxicity of plants used in traditional medicine.
  • Management of several pathologies like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome by medicinal plants and supplements.
  • Valorization of bee products, honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, bee venom from Moroccan sites.

Talk: Effect of antioxidant-rich propolis, honey and bee pollen extracts against type 2 diabetes and its associated risks : a potential approach that warrants a clinical investigation

This study showed for the first time that co-administration of propolis and honey or bee pollen extracts, especially their combination, are able to attenuate the T2D caused by a high-glucose intake. The role of these natural ingredients involves prevention of hyperglycaemia, insulinemia, HOMA-IR index, HOMA-β, Insulin sensitivity, pancreatic β-cell function and lipid prolife. Furthermore, these natural products ameliorate hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity as diabetic complications.

It might be concluded that propolis , honey and pollen are potential candidates to be used in the management of diabetes and its metabolic disorders . These results pave the way for controlled clinical studies and the use of their combination might potentiate their activities.

World Bee Day 2021

The World Needs Bees – The UN Has Declared 20th May as World Bee Day

Bees, along with the world’s other polinators, are coming under increasing threat from human acitivty. Polination is fundamental to the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly all flowering plant species along with three-quarters of the world’s food crops depend on animal polination. In order to raise awareness of the need to protect the world’s bees, the UN declared 20th May as ‘World Bee Day’. Their aim is to raise awareness and strengthen the measures aimed at protecting bees and other polinators. This would, in turn, help solve problems related to food production and supply – particularly in developing nations.

Bees and Butterflies Pollinating Flowers
bees and butterfly on the flower garden

We Need to Act Now

The UN state that present extinction rates for bees are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal. This is as a direct result of human activity. Around 35% of invertebrate pollinators (which includes butterflies) as well as 17% of vertebrate pollinators such as bats face extinction.

If this continues to be the case, it will have a very damaging impact on our ability to grow vegetable crops. This will lead to an increasing dependency on crops such as rice and potatoes. The end result will be an imbalanced diet, paving the way for a dramatic reduction in the health in populations around the globe.

What Can We Do?

We can all play our part. Individuals have the power to effect change. You could consider doing some of the following:

  • Plant diverse species of flowering plants in your garden, no matter how small it is
  • Support local honey producers by buying their products
  • Buy organic food from farmers who value and invest in their local ecosystems
  • Don’t use pesticides or herbicides in your garden
  • Sponsor beehives
  • Leave water outside for bees
  • Raise awareness of the need to protect the bees

If you’re a farmer, beekeeper or landowner you could:

  • Stop using pesticides
  • Plant a diverse range of crops – the wider the variety of crops the better
  • Create hedgerows and leave wide verges at the edge of fields for wildflowers to grow which in turn support insect, bird and animal life

Governments and decision-makers can help protect bees by:

  • Enforcing measures and implementing incentives to help fuel change
  • Providing opportunities for collaboration between organisations including farmers, universities, NGOs, charities and businesses who work in the agricultural and ecological sectors

At Herbal Apothecary we know that bees are far more than pollinators! We produce a range of natural bee products, including: