The first Brazilian red bee propolis products to be introduced to the US are now poised to make waves in Latin America following a deal between NaturaNectar and Servicios Medicos Vistazo that will see them marketed throughout Uruguay.
Vistazo will first target health care professionals and subsequently consumers through pharmacy networks across the country, said NaturaNectar chief executive Jose Luiz Paes-Leme.
Revitalizing the bee propolis category
Bee propolis - a resinous mixture from plants collected by honey bees and mixed with secreted beeswax to protect their hives from microscopic invaders – is well known for its antioxidant and anti-microbial effects, rendering the beehive a very sterile environment, even at high temperatures and humidity levels, said Paes-Leme.
However, red bee propolis, produced by honey bees from Dalbergia ecastophyllum or ‘monkey tail’ plants from a specific region in northeastern Brazil, is much more unusual, and has very different properties to brown or green varieties, added Paes-Leme, who was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA at Expo West last month.
“People know about green and brown propolis, and the claims about them tend to be pretty generic.
“But there is a growing number of published studies around red bee propolis covering everything from immune health to tackling acid reflux, asthma, menopausal symptoms which create opportunities for more condition specific products.
“Our range of functional bee propolis-based products targets specific health areas – the upper and lower respiratory tract, gastrointestinal health, immune health and menopausal symptoms - is the first of its kind and is revitalizing the bee propolis category.”
Green extraction process
Brazilian red bee propolis has an unusually high ORAC - three times that of açai berries – and a wide spectrum of pterocarpans, flavonones, isoflavones, chalcones, isoflavans, lignans and isoflavonols, he said.
The aglycone isoflavones in red bee propolis had particular potential in menopause supplements as they were more readily absorbed by the body than most soy isoflavones, he claimed.
“We have exclusive commercial access to the source in Brazil of red bee propolis.
“We’ve also built up IP around a solvent-free water-based ‘green extraction’ process developed by a Danish company called Propolis Research Centre and used by our sister company Phenolic Factory in Florida that enables us to eliminate impurities and beeswax and produce bee propolis extracts that retain very high levels of the phenolic compounds and flavanols.”
Not all bee propolis is the same
The patented green extraction process is able to separate raw propolis into two fractions: One of pure phenolic acids and another of pure flavonoids, said Paes-Leme.
NaturaNectar extracts are from several types of Brazilian Propolis which are very different from the propolis found in North America, New Zealand and Europe, he said.
NaturaNectar was founded in 2008 by Paes-Leme (who is based in Sunrise, Florida) and Alessandro Esteves (who is based in Brazil).
Click here to read more about the clinical research on red bee propolis.