Updated: August 6, 2019
Propolis is a resin-like material made by bees from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. Honey bees produce it by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Its color varies depending on its botanical source, with dark brown as the most common. Propolis is sticky at and above 20 degree centigrade, while at lower temperatures, it becomes hard and brittle. The composition of propolis can vary depending on the location of the bees and what trees and flowers they have access to. For example, propolis from Europe wonât have the same chemical makeup as propolis from Brazil. Propolis is rarely available in its pure form. It is usually obtained from beehives and contains bee products. The majority of the compounds in propolis are polyphenols which are antioxidants that fight disease and damage in the body.
Specifically, propolis contains the polyphenols called flavonoids. Flavonoids are produced in plants as a form of protection. They are commonly found in foods thought to have antioxidant properties, including fruits, green tea, vegetables and red wine.
Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.
Propolis is used for canker sores and infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis and upper respiratory tract infections), by viruses (including HIV, H1N1 "swine" flu, and the common cold), by fungus, and by single-celled organisms called protozoans. Propolis is also used for cancer of the nose and throat, for treating warts, and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease.
People sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing, genital herpes, cold sores (herpes labialis), vaginal swelling (vaginitis), and minor burns. Propolis is also used topically as a mouth rinse to treat painful mouth sores and inflammation (oral mucositis) and thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) and to improve healing following oral surgery.
In manufacturing, propolis is used as an ingredient in cosmetics. Propolis is used by some chewing gum manufacturers to make propolis gum. Propolis is used by some string instrument makers (violin, viola, cello and bass) as a varnish ingredient. Some workers use it to seal the surface of newly made bridges.
Propolis is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. So, the bee product appears to provide protection from some bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Taking propolis by mouth daily for 6-13 months reduces canker sore outbreaks. Some of the anti-cancerous effects of the substance include keeping cancerous cells from multiplying, reducing the likelihood cells will become cancerous and blocking pathways that keep cancer cells from signaling to each other.
Taking propolis may improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. But it doesn't seem to affect insulin levels or improve insulin resistance.
Taking 60 drops of a preparation containing Brazilian green propolis daily for 7 days does not reduce H. pylori infection.
Applying ointment containing 0.5% to 3% propolis five times daily improves healing time and reduce pain from cold sores.
Applying a 3% propolis ointment four times daily for 10 days might improve healing of lesions in people with genital herpes. Some research suggests that it might heal lesions faster and more completely than the conventional treatment 5% acyclovir ointment.
Taking a 30% propolis extract for 5 days can cure giardiasis which is a type of intestinal infection in more people than the drug tinidazole.
Applying propolis to the skin every 3 days might help treat minor burns and prevent infections.
Propolis has a special compound called pinocembrin, a flavonoid that acts as an antifungal. These anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make propolis helpful in wound healing. One study found that propolis can help people who have had traumatic burns heal faster by speeding up new healthy cell growth.
A topical propolis alcoholic extract was more effective than a steroid cream in reducing mast cells in oral surgery wounds. Mast cells are associated with inflammation and slowed wound healing.
Using a propolis mouth rinse five times daily for 1 week might improve healing and reduce pain and swelling after mouth surgery.
Rinsing the mouth with a propolis mouth rinse might help to heal sores caused by cancer drugs or dentures. But using a rinse with propolis and other natural ingredients doesn't seem to help.
Using Brazilian green propolis extract four times daily for 7 days can prevent oral thrush in people with dentures.
Irrigation with a propolis extract solution decreases bleeding of gums in people with periodontitis, a gum disease.
Applying Brazilian green propolis resulted on the skin decreases itching, peeling and redness in students with athlete's foot.
Propolis might help prevent or reduce the duration of common colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Applying a 5% propolis solution vaginally for 7 days can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in people with vaginal swelling.
Taking propolis by mouth daily for up to 3 months cures warts in some people with plane and common warts. However, propolis does not seem to treat plantar warts.
More evidence is needed to rate propolis for the uses in below condition:
Propolis is possibly safe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately. However, it can cause allergic reactions, particularly in people who are allergic to bees or bee products. Lozenges containing propolis can cause irritation and mouth ulcers.
Propolis may also cause its own allergic reaction when used for a long time. he typical allergic reaction is an eczema-like skin breakout.
There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking propolis if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Chemicals in propolis may make asthma worse. Avoid using propolis if you have asthma.
A certain chemical in propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Do not use propolis if you are allergic to bee by-products including honey, conifers, poplars, Peru balsam, and salicylates.
A certain chemical in propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking propolis 2 weeks before surgery.
The appropriate dose of propolis depends on several factors such as age, health, and several other conditions of the user. There is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for propolis. However, natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Therefore, be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using any product.