Could A Substance Produced By Bees Be The Cure To Hair Loss?

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A substance produced by bees to coat and seal their hives, could help balding people reverse their hair loss, researchers from Hokkaido University in Japan report in a recent edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Propolis, a natural compound that is produced by honeybees which Medical Daily’s Susan Scutti explains is used in much the same way that people use caulk in their own homes, was found to encourage hair growth in mice. While more research is required, the study authors believe it could also work on humans.
Lead author Ken Kobayashi and his colleagues said that the resin-like substance, which is comprised primarily of tree sap, is used to seal small gaps in their hives. Not only does propolis serve as a physical barrier, but it also contains active compounds that can help prevent fungi and bacteria from infiltrating the bees’ home, the American Chemical Society (ACS) said in a statement.
“People from ancient times had noticed propolis’ special properties and used it to treat tumors, inflammation and wounds. More recently, research has shown that the substance promotes the growth of certain cells involved in hair growth though no one had yet tested whether that in turn would result in new locks,” the ACS said.
Kobayashi and his colleagues set out to do just that, and when they tested the substance on mice that had been waxed or shaved, they found that those who had been treated with it regrew their fur faster than those that had not been. Furthermore, they also found that applying the topical solution “stimulated migration of hair matrix keratinocytes into the hair shaft” – in other words, increasing the number of cells involved in the process of growing hair.
“Although they tried the material on mice that could grow fur rather than balding mice, the researchers note that hair loss conditions often result from abnormal inflammation,” the Chemical Society noted. “Propolis contains anti-inflammatory compounds, so they expect it could help treat balding conditions. They add that further testing is needed to see if the beehive material affects human hair follicles.”
Scutti said that propolis contains biologically active compounds called flavonoids, and over 2,00 years ago, people started using it for a variety of medical reasons, including tumor treatment and fighting infection in open wounds. These days, the substance is available at pharmacies and health food markets in several forms, including creams, ointments, powders, tablets, capsules, and extracts.
“In most cases, it is recommended you apply propolis directly to the area being treated (with the exception of the eyes), and generally it is considered nonirritating to the skin,” she said. “Oral uses, though less common, also exist and safety studies suggest it is nontoxic. However, it is not uncommon for people to have an allergic reaction.”
“Tested by scientists, propolis is active against bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, among other microorganisms,” Scutti added. “Most often, people use it to treat wounds and also to speed the healing of canker sores and outbreaks of genital herpes. Taken in the form of a mouthwash, propolis helps soothe following oral surgery. And a study… found the extract worked about as well as the drug against the parasite giardiasis.”
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