The researchers from Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Nigeria and Universiti Sains Malaysia have come up with a study stating that propolis is a superfood for pregnant, diabetic women. It is potent enough not only to improve pregnancy outcomes in diabetic women but also placental oxidative stress. The respective research was published in Journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Diabetes mellitus is expected to affect more than 642 million people in the world, by 2040. Characterized by elevated blood sugar, diabetes causes a wide range of complications when left untreated. These may include kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease etc.
Pregnancy, for sure, isn’t an easy experience. Especially, for mothers who have been diagnosed with diseases such as diabetes. This is because diabetes during pregnancy affects the development of the baby.
Previous studies have shown that diabetic mothers are more likely to give birth to infants with congenital malformations. Maternal factors including age, obesity, duration of the disease, diet, and medications add to the situation. A higher placental oxidative stress has also been observed among such women. This can potentially be resolved consuming natural antioxidants.
Bees produce propolis from the tree sap, their own discharges, and beeswax. Propolis has long served as a traditional remedy for wounds and cancer. It has also been used to improve (in rats),
- Body weight
- Blood sugar levels
- Lipid profile
- Malondialdehyde levels
- Kidney functions
This wonder product by the bees packs a variety of bioactive compounds like polyphenols or flavonoids etc.
What does the study say?
This research study is one of its kinds. This is because it enumerates the potential use of propolis against diabetes-induced impaired pregnancy outcomes and placental oxidative stress. No prior studies have indicated such benefits regarding the use of propolis.
The propolis produced by the stingless bee (Heterotrigona itama) was investigated for its effects on pregnancy outcomes and placental oxidative stress. For this purpose, the researchers used pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats and divided them as follow,
- The non-diabetic rat group
- The diabetic group
- The diabetic rats fed with propolis (300 mg/kg)
- The diabetic rats that received insulin (300 mg/kg)
- The diabetic rats were given both insulin and propolis
Based on the malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels and total antioxidant capacity, the team determined placental oxidative stress among the subjects. Meanwhile, the pregnancy outcomes included,
- Resorption and implantation loss
- Number of live and dead fetuses
- Fetal and placental weights
- Fetal fasting blood glucose
These parameters led the researchers found that propolis improves pregnancy outcomes and placental oxidative stress. Moreover, it was found even beneficial when given along with insulin.
Some other benefits of using propolis
Consuming propolis comes with the following health benefits,
- Faster healing of wounds
- Improvement in the levels of blood pressure
- Lower risks of cancer
Owing to greater antimicrobial properties, propolis prevents wound infection and aids faster healing. It boosts the growth of skin cells as well. Chinese propolis, in particular, protects against cellular damage, regulates collagen activity, and promotes the production of antioxidants.
Furthermore, propolis significantly improves blood pressure. It inhibits the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase that is an enzyme causing elevation of the blood pressure.
Propolis has been shown to alleviate the risks of cancer as well. It prevents the formation of new blood vessels, providing oxygen to the cancerous cells, effectively killing them in the process.