Propolis (2016) & Cataract

Learn more about cataracts.

Of keen importance to diabetics is that uncontrolled diabetes (poor control of blood sugar) can result in what is known as sugar cataracts. Under certain circumstances cataract formation can take place very quickly, sometimes resulting in complete loss of vision in as little as three days.

An interesting study investigated whether propolis impacted the development of sugar cataracts. Propolis is the waxy material created by bees and used to seal various leaks and cracks in the hive to keep out both cold drafts and unwanted predators such as wax moths. Most honey that comes from the store has been very finely filtered and bits of propolis are removed. However unfiltered honey, and honey that has been only coarsely filtered tend to have bits of tasteless propolis in the honey. Bees gather propolis from tree buds and flows of sap in various trees in their locale.

Propolis is also widely available as a nutritional supplement.

The study employed propolis as part of the diet of lab animals as well as the in-vitro effects of propolis in the lab. The lens of animals fed a high glucose diet were evaluated for opacity and cell death levels. The researchers found that propolis given orally with 5 ug/ML or 50 ug/ML markedly reduced both onset and progression of cataract and also offsetted the effects of a high glucose diet. They found that giving the animals doses of propolis daily reduced the opacity of the lens.

Both propolis and an active ingredient of propolis (caffeic acid phenethyl ester - CAPE) have been shown by researchers to have not only antioxidant properties but may have antitumor, cytotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition it is found to normalize sugar balance in animals with type II diabetes.1, 2

Control animals, who were fed purified honey - with no propolis did not have the same beneficial results.

Researchers: T. Shibata, S. Shibata, et al
Published: Propolis, a Constituent of Honey, Inhibits the Development of Sugar Cataracts and High-Glucose-Induced Reactive Oxygen Species in Rat Lenses, Journal of Ophthalmology, April, 2016.

1. M. T. Al-Hariri, Propolis and its direct and indirect hypoglycemic effect, Journal of Family and Community Medicine, 2011.
2. T. Matsui, S. Ebuchi, et al., Strong antihyperglycemic effects of water-soluble fraction of Brazilian propolis and its bioactive constituent, 3,4,5-tri-O-caffeoylquinic acid, Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2004