A substance honeybees called propolis that use to seal their hives may soon become part of a natural remedy kit for athletes as new research suggest it may protect them from overheating.
An active ingredient in propolis, or bee glue, is called caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE). The compound is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, and Taiwanese researchers who conducted the study say it has long been used in alternative medicine.
The scientists analyzed blood samples from 30 cyclists who participated in endurance training for two to four years prior to the study. One of the frequent side effects of exercise in the heat is hyperthermia, which may speed the onset of fatigue and dehydration.
Lead researcher Yu-Jen Chen of Chinese Culture University in Taiwan wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Food Science that CAPE appears to protect mononuclear cells from hyperthermia-induced death.
"This implies that CAPE might not only promote athletic performance but also prevent injury secondary to endurance-exercise-induced hyperthermia," the scientist concluded.
Antioxidants have a range of health benefits and may reduce the risk of serious diseases such as cancer. They are available in the form of supplements in a variety of health stores.