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The health benefits of honey bee propolis extract


Half Hill Farm’s Propolis Extract – available in 1 oz dropper bottles.

A couple years ago, I noticed honey bees actively coming and going from my compost bin. I thought I had unintentionally adopted a swarm. At any given moment there were about 25-50 bees coming and going. When I carefully opened the top, bees were all over the mushrooms we use to make our extracts. I didn’t know what to make of it so I started research that eventually led me to creating a new extract.

After reading about different roles of bees in the hive, I think these bees were tasked with gathering plant and tree resins that are collectively blended with enzymes and wax to form an amazing substance called propolis.

What is propolis: Bees use propolis as a structural glue and as a varnish protecting the hive from fungal, viral, bacterial infection and disease as well as invading small animals or small insects or mites. Propolis is loaded with vitamins and minerals, but propolis also includes polysaccharides that are also present in wood rotting fungi, including Turkey Tail mushrooms. The more I read the more I liked and began formulating a propolis extract for daily use.

Do bees use mushrooms: A few months later, self-taught mycologist Paul Stamets reported noticing bees on the ground sucking mycelium. Stamets believes his patented use of fungus may be a way to save honey bees from mites. But both of our observations might suggest bees are a step ahead of us and already use a broader range of the forest, including mushrooms and fungi, to protect the hive with blends of propolis.

It already happens with other bees. Last year, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation discovered that the Brazilian stingless bee uses fungus in their propolis to protect larvae food stores from spoiling.

He and his team discovered that the fungus is a key part of the hive. It permeates the cerumen, a material made of wax and resin that the bees use as building material. After the bees have deposited regurgitated food for the larvae inside the cells, and laid an egg, the fungus starts growing.

Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fungus, and it turns out this food is absolutely crucial. When the team tried to grow the bees in the lab without the fungus, the survival rate of the larvae dropped dramatically – from 72 per cent to just 8 per cent.

Mindful observation of nature can reveal tested paths toward better health and well-being. Bees and fungi have evolved to withstand thousands of centuries of environmental changes. While they may be no match for the destruction humans can cause to the environment, their survival and centuries of use by humans suggests honey bee propolis is one of those tested paths we must understand and protect.

Purchase propolis extract: Each 1 oz (30 ml) bottle of Half Hill Farm’s Propolis Extract contains roughly a three month supply with daily use and has a dropper for oral or topical application. Take 3-5 drops a day, or apply to minor cuts to create a liquid band-aid.

The health benefits of propolis: There have been many studies of propolis and its known uses dating back to 300 BC. Here is an excellent summary of propolis studies published in 2015 making the case for potential future drug development. Here is another summary of propolis studies from 2013 also pointing to many reasons why we make our propolis extract.

  • Composition: Raw propolis is 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% organic compounds. Propolis contains calcium, iodine, potassium, sodium, manganese, magnesium, iron copper and zinc as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, D and E.
  • Antioxident: High concentrations of flavinoids and phenolic acids in propolis reduce oxidative stress to proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and other biomolecules in the body. Oxidative stresses cause cells to die leading to a variety of diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart diseases.
  • Anti-inflammatory: When reactive oxygen species like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) are not flushed from cells, inflammation occurs. Unresolved chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, asthma and cancer. Many studies show the flavinoids and cinnamic acid derivatives in propolis reduce inflammatory responses.
  • Antiviral: Studies show flavinoid rich propolis interferes with the RNA synthesis of herpes simplex 1 and 2, influenza, H1N1, HIV and other viruses.
  • Antibacterial, Antimicrobial: Propolis is effective against Gram-positive bacteria like Streptococcus mutans, which causes tooth decay and heart disease, Lactobacilli, and Staphylococcus.
  • Antifungal: Propolis is active against dermatophytes and yeasts, including several Candida strains – some resistant to known antifungal agents.
  • Antiprotozoal: Propolis shows activity against parasites that cause many diseases in humans. Studies show propolis is active against trichomoniasis, toxoplasmosis, giardiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, Giardia lamblia, Trichomonas vaginalis, Toxoplasma gondii, Leishmania donovani, Trypanosoma cruzi, and malaria.
  • Antitumor: Propolis acts against cancer cells by blocking oncogene signalling pathways, decreasing cancer proliferation by decreasing cancer stem cell populations and increasing cancer apoptosis. Propolis is active against colorectal, human breast, human tongue squamous cell carcinoma, and human prostate cancer cells. Studies show flavonoids from propolis could play a protective role against the toxicity of the chemotherapeutic agents or radiation therapy.
Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

‘You saved my daughter’s life!’ – the healing power of mushrooms


A ‘cloud’ of Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes Versicolor) on logs at Half Hill Farm

A few months ago, I got a call from a customer who was looking for what I thought was an adjunct therapy for his daughter in treatment for brain cancer. His own research made him hopeful that our Turkey Tail extract could help. It wasn’t until a couple months later that I discovered on a second call the full extent of what was going on.

“I want you to know you saved my daughter’s life,” the customer told me. It’s something I hear often from customers, from ecstatic calls of people now in remission to those experiencing little to no side effects to chemo or radiation (most common) and positive changes in blood tests, but when he told me his daughter had been in hospice, I was shocked.

It is certainly not a common experience for patients to go from hospice back to treatment options, but it’s stories like this that give what we do meaning and purpose. It’s stories like this that are why we have grown into an FDA-registered manufacturing space and why we continue to expand our product offerings to include nature’s very best organically grown and wildcrafted mushroom extracts.

We are humbled every day with your phone calls and emails. While the body of research on mushrooms is growing, we know we cannot market our extracts or products as a treatment, cure or prevention of any disease, but that doesn’t stop our customers from sharing their stories. It has presented a unique challenge over the past two years as to how we present those stories to you in a responsible way.

Mushroom Dual Extracts available in 100 ml (3.38 oz) or 200 ml (6.76 oz) bottles from Half Hill Farm:

If you are one of the hundreds of customers across the country who take our extracts, we would love to hear why you take them and what you are experiencing. Your experience could help someone follow you on a path toward better health and well-being. You can leave your comment here, or leave a review on the product pages of our online store.

Half Hill Farm opens retail store in Woodbury


Half Hill Farm’s Apple Ginger Kombucha hanging out in the Stones River.

Come and get you a half gallon growler of our organic Apple Ginger Kombucha starting this Saturday April 30, 2016 at our new retail store in the Arts Center of Cannon County (here’s a map)! We’ll be open Saturdays at 9 am so you can get your $5 growler refilled for $10.

Kombucha is organic sweet tea fermented and carbonated with yeast and probiotics and flavored with organic juices. This raw, vegan, live culture food detoxifies, helps with digestion, and helps keep blood sugar levels in check. It’s just one way we’re looking out for your health & well being.

This Saturday’s opening will also feature over a dozen Middle Tennessee jewelry makers in the 2016 Jewelry Showcase, selling a wide selection of hand-crafted silver, copper, leather, stone, and beaded jewelry – perfect gifts for Mom!

Every Saturday, we will also have our Nature’s Remedy line of mushroom dual extracts featuring the immune boosting power of the Red Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail mushrooms. You can also pick up some fresh made tempeh from our partners at Short Mountain Cultures and enjoy crafts from the art and soul of Tennessee!

Nature’s Remedy: Chaga mushroom dual extract


Half Hill Farm’s Chaga Mushroom Dual Extract is available in 100 and 200 ml bottles.

Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) have been used as folk medicine for immune support and gastrointestinal health in Russia for centuries, more recently in treating cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments. Chaga is not an edible mushroom and must be extracted to be consumed. Extracts are made from the sclerotium, a fungal mycelium outgrowth that occurs mostly on Birch trees prior to a rarely seen fruiting body. As the Birch tree mounts a decades long defense against the advancing fungus, the Chaga mycelium creates a host of compounds to fight for its survival, and this is why many call Chaga the “King of the Herbs.”

Uses: Studies show extracts of Chaga mycelium reduce oxidative stresses that lead to many diseases. It has one of the highest antioxident values of any herb and high concentrations of melanin (visible on the sclerotium’s crusted outer surface), ergosterol (vitamin D2) and anti-aging enzymes Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).

Studies of Chaga also show antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Chaga’s adaptagenic effects help balance overactive auto-immune responses while naturally triggering needed immune responses. Chaga is often used to treat eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis and to normalize cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Compounds from both hot water and alcohol extractions, including polysaccharides and terpenes (betulinic acids, phytosterols), have anti-tumor growth properties making Chaga a candidate as an adjunct therapy. Betulinic acid has been shown to help break down LDL cholesterol.

How to Purchase: Half Hill Farm is pleased to add the healing power of Chaga mushrooms to our Nature’s Remedy line of mushroom dual extracts that include Red Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) and Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) mushrooms. Our Chaga extract processes responsibly wildcrafted sclerotia (fungal mycelium) of the Chaga mushroom through a lengthy hot water (distilled water) and alcohol (USDA Certified Organic pharmaceutical grade USP) extraction process. Our full spectrum dual extract is manufactured in our FDA registered manufacturing kitchen for our USDA Certified Organic farm and bottled in premium Miron ultra-violet glass for superior preservation (shelf life of 1 year).

Take Chaga daily in morning coffee or evening tea or in combination with any of our mushroom dual extracts. There are no known contraindicators. Below are a few studies of Chaga mushrooms for deeper understanding of this powerful mushroom.

Research on Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) mushrooms

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes.

Organic farm starts kombucha brewery in Woodbury

(Woodbury, TN)  -  Half Hill Farm is opening a kombucha brewery in the Arts Center of Cannon County. The USDA certified organic farm will sell 16 oz. bottles and fill half gallon growlers of the carbonated beverage on site with both sizes available in local stores and restaurants.

The organic mushroom extract maker will team up with tempeh maker Short Mountain Cultures to work collectively as The Kitchen @ the Arts Center starting January 1. The collaboration will bring locally handcrafted fermented food & beverages to Middle Tennessee.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to share our handcrafted organic kombucha and everything we make together. It’s awesome,” said Half Hill Farm co-owner Vince Oropesa. “And it’s completely solar powered. How cool is that!” Oropesa added pointing to the Arts Center’s 30 KW solar panel system.

Half Hill Farm will also make live kombucha culture food products and barrel-aged kombucha vinegar. The farm will also expand its mushroom extracts to include Chaga, Lion’s Mane and other certified organic mushrooms.

Kombucha is sweet tea fermented with special yeast and probiotics into a carbonated beverage often flavored with fruits, vegetables, roots, or herbs. The craft of brewing and fermenting kombucha with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is thousands of years old.

“Making these craft products at The Kitchen with like-minded partners feels right,” Half Hill Farm co-owner Christian Grantham said. “It’s the right people, the right place and the right time to revive a sustainable food culture that has lasted centuries.”


Apple Ginger Kombucha samples don’t last long on the farm.

Follow us for more information: A grand opening date for The Kitchen has not yet been announced. You can follow Half Hill Farm on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more information.

Photo (left to right): Vince Oropesa, Christian Grantham, Simmer Tidman, John Parker

THANK YOU: a new year together

2015 was an incredibly rewarding year! We served hundreds of customers with a level of quality and care we want to see in the world, and that made usfriends all over the United States with humbling stories of lives forever changed and a praise that tells us we are on the right path. It’s what focusing on quality will do, and we can’t wait to give it back ten times more in 2016!

Kombucha fermentation tanks arrive for farm brewery

Kombucha fermentation tanks

The delivery guy knew the exact location of the only loading dock I could borrow in town, even though it really has no address. It’s a small town, but the driver had been here before delivering freight to Short Mountain Distillery. When he saw the tanks, he knew what was up. 

“Someone’s about to do some serious brewing in Woodbury,” he said with a smile. It’s certainly a first big step in starting our farm’s brewery and churning out some organic fermented goodness!

These 58 gallon (220 Liter) stainless steel fermentation tanks ought to help us brew a lot more kombucha, vinegars and other things to come, but we’re definitely going to need some bigger space to do it right.

Blueberry Ginger Kombucha Apple Ginger Kombucha

The kitchen is full of bottles. The living room is full of bottles, and the quiet is broken by the low hum of a small fridge full of more fizzy booch! There is a home somewhere underneath it all. This year we made a lot of kombucha and shared some with neighbors. We love what it does for our health, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

kombucha bottling day kombucha brewing

Follow us on Facebook to watch our brewery grow and to learn when, where and how you can enjoy our kombucha products!

Brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients show signs of fungal infection

A study published in this month’s Scientific Reports by Spanish scientists has found a strong link between Alzheimer’s disease and fungal infection. The report could lead to early anti-fungal treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and illustrates a growing understanding of how fungal, bacterial and viral infections relate to disease.

The study found that all brain samples identified as belonging to patients with Alzheimer’s disease had signs of fungal infection in their neurons. The study does not answer whether the fungal infections caused the Alzheimer’s disease or whether the disease itself made the patients more susceptible to fungal infections by compromising the blood-brain barrier protecting tissue from pathogens.

The Spanish study may lead to a closer look at recent findings by British researchers who found beta amyloid plaques of tangled neurons in Alzheimer’s disease patients are transmitted through medical procedures. It may be that a fungal cause for beta amyloid is the actual culprit in the studied human transmission. Fingings from a U.C. Davis study published in Cell Host and Microbe found that beta amyloids in Alzhemier’s disease trigger the same inflammatory immune response as amyloids created by bacterial biofilm.

Mushroom supplements: While there are no specific treatments for fungal infections recently discovered in tangled nuerons of Alzheimer’s patients, scientists are finding promise in studies of extracted compounds from the Red Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) that could later be used as compounded medicines or natural supplement treatments of Alzheimer’s and other amyloid related disease.

A study in Brain Research showed the use of liquid extracts of Red Reishi mushroom may prevent harmful neurodegenerative effects of toxins on the brain’s synaptic density proteins by exterminating toxic beta amyloids. A follow-up study indicates these liquid mushroom extracts could reduce beta amyloid-induced neurotoxicity as a natural supplement treatment. Red Reishi is already shown to alter the balance of gut bacteria that create biofilms and resulting amyloids.

Red Reishi is widely known & studied for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects and continues to demonstrate wide uses as a natural anti-aging supplement.

Available now: Half Hill Farm makes a high quality dual liquid extract of the Red Reishi mushroom. We make it with USDA certified organic Red Reishi mushrooms, USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade alcohol (USP) and distilled water.

UPDATE 03-09-16: Since this report was published, scientists and researchers have joined draw more attention to these findings and published this report in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease just yesterday identifying the viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

We are researchers and clinicians working on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or related topics, and we write to express our concern that one particular aspect of the disease has been neglected, even though treatment based on it might slow or arrest AD progression. We refer to the many studies, mainly on humans, implicating specific microbes in the elderly brain, notably herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), Chlamydia pneumoniae, and several types of spirochaete, in the etiology of AD. Fungal infection of AD brain [5, 6] has also been described, as well as abnormal microbiota in AD patient blood. The first observations of HSV1 in AD brain were reported almost three decades ago]. The ever-increasing number of these studies (now about 100 on HSV1 alone) warrants re-evaluation of the infection and AD concept.

Many studies show a direct anti-viral effect of liquid Red Reishi extract (Ganoderma lucidum) on HSV-1. Several reports show anti-bacterial effects on Chlamydia pneumoniae, a bacertia not only associated with Alzheimer’s, but also thought to be a casal factor in Multiple sclerosis, Asthma, Chronic fatigue, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Fibromyalgia, Interstitial cystitis, and Crohn’s disease.
NOTICE: Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Bees use mushroom fungus to protect colony

Honey bees make a quick pharmacy stop on our farm’s used Turkey Tail mushrooms (March 2015).

Last year, I noticed honey bees coming and going from our compost bin of organic mushrooms we use to make extracts and thought I had a swarm problem. On closer look, I discovered they were nibbling on our used mushrooms and then flying away.

Understanding that bees eat pollen and nectar, I suspected they were up to something entirely different. I suspected they were self-medicating on residual compounds found on Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) and Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms left over from our extraction process.

As scientists are now discovering, that may very well be the case. A scientist at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation recently discovered that the Brazilian stingless bee uses fungus to protect larvae food stores from spoiling.

He and his team discovered that the fungus is a key part of the hive. It permeates the cerumen, a material made of wax and resin that the bees use as building material. After the bees have deposited regurgitated food for the larvae inside the cells, and laid an egg, the fungus starts growing.

Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fungus, and it turns out this food is absolutely crucial. When the team tried to grow the bees in the lab without the fungus, the survival rate of the larvae dropped dramatically – from 72 per cent to just 8 per cent.

This Summer, self-taught mycologist Paul Stamets began working with Steve Sheppard, a bee expert at Washington State University, to test various wood decaying mushrooms on honey bees. They are finding promising results that could lead to ways of treating colonies for parasitic mites and other infections at the heart of troubling colony collapse disorder.

As other scientists are now discovering what I also observed, it may be that bees are already doing it themselves. Understanding what they are doing and why could help us understand more about the medicinal value of mushrooms and lead to both a re-evaluation of our use of fungicides and important life-saving discoveries for humans as well as bees.

Available now: You don’t have to be a bee-in-the-know to take advantage of these important mushrooms. Half Hill Farm makes organic mushroom extracts with USDA certified organic mushrooms, USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade USP alcohol, and distilled water.

Read several studies showing what scientists are discovering about extracts of these mushrooms and what they can do now for your better health & well-being.

Red Reishi extract reverses obesity by altering gut bacteria

A new study of liquid dual extracts of Red Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum) published this Summer shows a reversal of obesity related symptoms by altering the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.

“Mice kept on a high-fat diet gained up to 25 percent more than mice kept on the same diet with extracts from the Reishi mushroom,” said David Ojcius, a microbiologist at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco who participated in the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Consumption of Reishi mushroom extract with high-fat food prevented the development of fat tissue, gut inflammation and buildup of harmful bacteria in the bloodstream — all symptoms of obesity in both mice and humans.

The study also shows an adaptogenic effect, meaning the liquid mushroom extracts slimmed down overweight mice only, not mice with healthy weights. Prebiotic uses of this medicinal fungi builds on research that increasingly points to a balance of gut bacteria addressing overall health and well-being, including obesity.

An early hint that gut microbes might play a role in obesity came from studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals. In studies of twins who were both lean or both obese, researchers found that the gut community in lean people was like a rain forest brimming with many species but that the community in obese people was less diverse—more like a nutrient-overloaded pond where relatively few species dominate.

Nature’s Remedy: Half Hill Farm has created a high quality Red Reishi dual extract using USDA certified organic ganoderma lucidum, USDA certified organic USP pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and distilled water. You can purchase our Red Reishi Mushroom Dual Extract in 100 ml (3.38 oz.) or 200 ml (6.76 oz.) bottles.

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.