The health and cosmetic uses of honey are well known and well documented, but what about other ‘hive products’ such as beeswax?
Beeswax has over 300 different components, of hydrocarbons, free fatty acids, esters of fatty acids and fatty alcohol, diesters and exogenous substances(1),(2), and has been prized since ancient times as a basis for various ointments and creams.
It is also used today in pharmaceutical preparations and cosmetic preparations, such as for lip balms.
You can read more on my page about beeswax
benefits for skin.
However, can beeswax be used for problems other
than merely as a preventative and correction of dry skin conditions?
Beeswax has been used for centuries to treat burns, abrasions, wounds, and bruises. But is there recent medical evidence of clinical effect? There is some evidence that beeswax has antimicrobial activity.
In a review of the antimicrobial activity of beeswax by Fratini et al(3), he quotes a 2011 study by N.Ghanem(4) that showed that crude beeswax has activity against: Candida albicans; Staphylococcus aureus; Streptococcus epidermis; Streptococcus pyogenes; Bacillus subtilis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; E.coli.
The same study by N. Ghanem showed that a combination of beeswax and ethanolic extracts of propolis had greater antibacterial properties in vitro than beeswax alone.
Of course, showing antimicrobial activity in a petri dish or test tube does not necessarily mean that there will be an identical effect on or in the human body, but this could be an area for further study.
Propolis, a substance that has been used in medicine since ancient times, has been shown in a study by Castaldo and Capasso(5) to have antimicrobial activity against Staph. aureus and Candida albicans, as well as Staph epidermidis and Bacillus subtilis. The propolis in this study was used as a 1:1 mixture with beeswax.
However, Fratini does also quote a study(6) that showed a significant clinical effect on humans of a combination of beeswax, honey and olive oil in improving symptoms in patients with a fungal infection pityriasis versicolor, tinea cruris, tinea corporis (ringworm of the body) and tinea facie (facial ringworm).
Fratini, in his review, also quotes several studies that show a significant clinical effect for a combination of beeswax, honey and olive oil in treating the following conditions: atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, diaper dermatitis (nappy rash), hemorrhoids and anal fissure.
One of the studies(7) showed that increasing the strength of the mixture while reducing the use of corticosteroids was still effective for treating atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Another study(8) has shown that a mixture of honey, beeswax, olive oil and propolis significantly reduces recovery time for patients with chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis.
So, although there are medical studies that show beeswax provides antimicrobial activity and clinical improvement for some conditions in patients, based on the Fratini review, there seems to be more evidence for beeswax in conjunction with other hive products.
1. A.P. Tulloch, The composition of beeswax and other waxes secreted by lipids, Lipids, 5 (1970), pp. 247-258
2. A.P. Tulloch, Beeswax-composition and analysis, Bee World, 61 (1980), pp. 47-62
3. F.Fratini et al “Beeswax: a minireview of its antimicrobial activity and its application in medicine.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 2016; 9(9): 839-843
4. N.Ghanem “Study on the antimicrobial activity of honey products and some Saudi Folkloric substances.” Res J Biotech, 6 (2011), pp. 38-43
5. S.Castaldo and F.Capasso “Propolis, an old remedy used in modern medicine.” Fitoterapia Volume 73, Supplement 1, November 2002, Pages S1-S6
6. N.S.Al-Waili “An alternative treatment for pityriasis versicolor, tinea cruris, tinea corporis and tinea faciei with topical application of honey, olive oil and beeswax mixture: an open pilot study.” Complement Ther Med, 12 (2004), pp. 45-47
7. N.S.Al-Waili “Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled, single-blinded study.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2003, Pages 226-234
8. M.Abdulrhman et al “Honey and a Mixture of Honey, Beeswax, and Olive Oil–Propolis Extract in Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Oral Mucositis: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study” Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Volume 29, 2012 - Issue 3