Could honeybees hold the cure to prostate cancer, and maybe other types of cancer, too? Possibly, according to recent findings from the University of Chicago.
Beehive propolis is used by honeybees to patch up cracks in the hive. It’s made up of amino acids, waxes, resins, and fatty acids and boasts hundreds of complex chemical properties.
Commonly called “bee glue,” propolis is easily purchased in capsule form or as a liquid extract at any good health food store. Companies also sell the extract as an ointment, cream, lotion, powder, or in other cosmetic form. Now comes evidence it stops prostate cancer cells dead in their tracks…
According to some sources, propolis has been used for centuries to treat allergies and infections. It’s sometimes even used as a natural antibiotic. In fact, bees use it as their own kind of antibiotic to help protect them from disease. This is partly because it seals out foreign substances that would otherwise pollute the hive.
As a natural remedy, propolis has long been used to heal cuts and protect them against bacteria and other microorganisms. Propolis also appears to have anti-microbial action on both gram-positive and gram-negative micro-organisms.
From a chemical standpoint, propolis is particularly complex. This helps explain why no attempts have been made to create a manufactured version of the substance. But at the same time, because it can’t be patented, very little research has been conducted on the clinical benefits of propolis — till now.
Propolis stops prostate cancer cells in their tracks
The active compound in beehive propolis is called caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE. Chih-Pin Chuu, a lead researcher on the project at the University of Chicago, wanted to see if CAPE was effective when it came to killing prostate cancer cells.
Chuu tested the amount of CAPE concentration that would be in a person’s blood following ingestion of a propolis capsule.
Results from early culture dish experiments showed CAPE successfully halted growth of early-stage prostate cancer cells. Later experiments on mice implanted with human prostate cancer cells repeated the effect. The tumors in the mice stopped growing if they received CAPE twice a day. But if the treatment stopped, the tumors began to grow again.
Researchers concluded that beehive propolis doesn’t kill prostate cancer, but at least it stops proliferation. The question was, why?
How to starve a cancer cell
The fact that propolis stops cancer cell proliferation hints at the idea that CAPE might someday cross over from holistic treatment to clinical therapy. And from there, CAPE might even prove to be a good co-treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy — according to clinical scientists, that is.
But for that to happen, scientists needed to first prove how CAPE stops cancer cell proliferation.
And that’s where a new breakthrough from the University of Chicago people comes into play. The team was led by Richard Jones, assistant professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology.
Traditionally, lab tools known as Western blots are used to assess changes in cell proteins after being exposed to different circumstances. But, these tools only allow for a few proteins to be assessed at a time.
The Chicago researchers came up with a new technique, called the micro-western array, for monitoring proteins. It’s groundbreaking, because — unlike previous methods — the technique lets the scientists observe the activity of hundreds of proteins at once. That means there’s finally a way to assess the anti-cancer potential of natural remedies.
Because that’s usually the problem scientists have with natural medicine, isn’t it? They want to assess the effect of just one thing at a time, but most natural remedies are active in multiple ways at the same time. And it’s hard for scientists not to want to break things down to minute detail — which is sometimes important, and often not.
The Chicago researchers have been using their new micro-western array to explain how cell physiology is affected by natural compounds, focusing their efforts on propolis.
They’ve been able to look at the effect of CAPE, the bee propolis extract, on about a hundred different proteins at once, while at the same time assessing a wide spectrum of cellular signaling pathways associated with multiple different outcomes.
They say this gives them a “global landscape view” of all the pathways affected, which wasn’t possible before — that is, to the extent that it would have required hundreds of researchers and an extraordinary amount of money.
At the end of the day, this “landscape view” allowed the scientists to pinpoint exactly what happens at the protein level when chemically-complex CAPE is used to treat prostate cancer. In technical terms, they found that CAPE suppresses protein activity in the p70S6 kinase and Akt pathways.
What’s interesting is that both pathways are nutrition sensors. When activated, they give cancer cells the green light to proliferate. When deactivated, they stop cell growth in its tracks.
Could be the beginning of something big…
As Jones puts it, “CAPE basically stops the ability of prostate cancer cells to sense that there’s nutrition available.” Meaning cancer cells think they’re starving, so they halt growth.
Sounds like a pretty good deal — and all this from a completely natural remedy!
As usual, scientists say a lot more studies are needed, including human trials, before the medical community will recommend CAPE as a legitimate treatment for prostate cancer. And sadly, there’s a concern that nobody will fund the clinical trials needed to prove safety in humans since CAPE/propolis can’t be patented by a money-hungry drug company.
Still, it’s a step in the right direction to know some scientists are starting to welcome natural remedies into their labs for testing and that they’re starting to understand the mechanisms behind alternative therapy.
Does this mean you should add bee propolis supplements to your anti-cancer protocol? I don’t have enough information at this point. Since this newsletter is read by people with a lot of experience at cancer treatment, send me an email (email@example.com) and let me know if you’ve seen it used clinically.
Last issue we identified a particular group of Americans who are likely to see their cancer rate DOUBLE in the next 18 years. If you missed this news, please scroll down and read it now.
“Beehive Glue Stops Prostate Cancer in Mice.” Member post, HealingWell.com.
“Bee Propolis: Nature’s Healing Balm With Immune Boosting Properties.” By Katherine East, Natural News.
“From Beehives to Prostate Cancer Treatment.” By Rob Mitchum.
“Superfood: Bee Pollen.” Mighty Foods.
“The effect of bee propolis on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a pilot study.” By Samet, N. et al. Clinical Oral Investigations. Volume 11, Number 2 (2007), 143-147.
“University of Chicago scientists find that beehive extract shows potential as prostate cancer treatment.” NCI Cancer Center News.
“Value-Added Products From Beekeeping.” By R. Krell. FAO Corporate document Repository, 1996.