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What is beeswax?

Beeswax is a mixture of chemicals, e.g. aliphatic alcohols, palmitate and related
compounds, used by bees in the genus Apis to house larvae and store honey
and pollen. Beeswax has a high melting point range, 62-64C. According to
Wikipedia, worker bees (the females) have eight wax-producing mirror glands
on the inner sides of the sternites on abdominal segments 4-7. The wax of
honeycomb is nearly white, but it becomes yellowish brown, when pollen oils
and propolis are incorporated. The wax are needed to be clarified by heating in
water and then be used for candles and other applications.

Researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder characterized the
mechanical properties of waxes from four honeybee species: Apis mellifera L.,
Apis andreniformis L., Apis dorsata L. and two subspecies of Apis cerana L.
They found that Apis dorsata wax was stiffer and had a higher yield stress and
stress at the proportional limit than all of the other waxes. The waxes of A.
cerana and A. mellifera had intermediate strength and stiffness, and A.
andreniformis wax was the least strong, stiff and resilient. All of the waxes had
similar strain values at the proportional limit and yield point. They observed the
differences in wax mechanical properties correlated with their nesting
environment. [3]

What are the potential health benefits of beeswax?

A mixture of higher aliphatic primary alcohols extracted from beeswax was
found to have antioxidant activities and alleviate the signs (histopathological
studies and the level of malondialdehyde) of CCl4-induced toxicity of the liver in
rats. [1] However, this mixture was found to be a weak anti-inflammatory
agent. [7]

Researchers from Al-Waili's Foundation for Science and Trading claimed a
mixture of honey, olive oil, and beeswax possessing health benefits of
preventing or even treating diaper dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and skin
fungal infection. [2, 4-6] In a study of 15 patients suffered from anal fissure
and hemorrhoids, they reported that the honey
mixture significantly reduced bleeding and relieved itching in patients with
hemorrhoids. Patients with anal fissure showed significant reduction in pain,
bleeding, and itching after the treatment. And, they did not notice any side
effects. [2] The same group cultured Staphylococcus aureus and Candida
albicans in media made of honey mixture alone, nutrient agar-honey mixture
and Sabouraud glucose agar-honey mixture. They observed a clear zone
around holes filled with honey mixture; 3.5 mm on media seeded with C.
albicans and 4 mm on media seeded with S. aureus. No growth of S. aureus or
C. albicans was obtained on media containing honey whereas mild to moderate
growth was obtained on media containing olive oil or beeswax. Thus, honey
and honey mixture (to a certain extent) apparently could inhibit growth of S.
aureus or C. albicans. [4] They also treated 12 infants suffered from diaper
dermatitis with the mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax. They found the
topical treatment could reduce the lesion severity and there was no significant
side effects. [5]


[1] Mendoza S, Noa M, Pérez Y, Mas R. Preventive effect of D-002, a mixture of
long-chain alcohols from beeswax, on the liver damage induced with CCl4 in
rats. J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):379-83. [2] Al-Waili NS, Saloom KS, Al-Waili
TN, Al-Waili AN. The safety and efficacy of a mixture of honey, olive oil, and
beeswax for the management of hemorrhoids and anal fissure: a pilot study.
ScientificWorldJournal. 2006 Feb 2;6:1998-2005. [3] Buchwald R, Breed MD,
Greenberg AR, Otis G. Interspecific variation in beeswax as a biological
construction material. J Exp Biol. 2006 Oct;209(Pt 20):3984-9. [4] Al-Waili NS.
Mixture of honey, beeswax and olive oil inhibits growth of Staphylococcus
aureus and Candida albicans. Arch Med Res. 2005 Jan-Feb;36(1):10-3. [5]
Al-Waili NS. Clinical and mycological benefits of topical application of honey,
olive oil and beeswax in diaper dermatitis. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2005
Feb;11(2):160-3. [6] Al-Waili NS. Topical application of natural honey, beeswax
and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled,
single-blinded study. Complement Ther Med. 2003 Dec;11(4):226-34. [7]
Carbajal D, Molina V, Valdés S, Arruzazabala ML, Más R, Magraner J.
Anti-inflammatory activity of D-002: an active product isolated from beeswax.
Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1998 Oct;59(4):235-8.