TRADE NAMES

  • A.P. Propolis
  • Cigna Propol
  • Creolin
  • Enrico Rossi Propolis
  • Brazilian Green Propolis
  • Helixin
  • Immu-Max
  • Prop-A-Plex
  • Proposanal
  • PropoSpanal
  • Tanac

Propolis is a resin-like material that bees collect from tree buds and bark. They use it to build and repair their hives, and as a natural defense against predators and parasites.

Some beekeepers harvest propolis from their hives and use it for medicinal purposes. Propolis is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It’s been used to treat skin conditions, wounds, ulcers, and other infections.

There’s some evidence that propolis may also boost the immune system and help fight cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm these potential health benefits.

If you’re interested in using propolis for medicinal purposes, talk to your doctor first. It’s important to choose a high-quality product and to avoid products that contain impurities.

Propolis is generally safe when used as directed. However, some people may be allergic to it. If you experience any side effects, stop using propolis and see your doctor.

Propolis

ACTIONS AND PHARMACOLOGY

Most of the pharmacologic effects of propolis have been attributed to its flavonoid content.

  • Antimicrobial activity.
    In vitro studies indicate that propolis has antimicrobial activity against a variety of bacteria, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative strains, as well as certain fungi. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of propolis for Gram-positive bacteria is generally lower than that for Gram-negative bacteria. Propolis also appears to have synergy with some antibiotics against certain bacteria.
  • Anti-inflammatory activity.
    In vitro and animal studies suggest that propolis may have anti-inflammatory activity. One in vitro study found that an ethanolic extract of propolis was more effective than the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac in inhibiting the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).
  • Cancer activity.
    In vitro and animal studies suggest that propolis may have anticancer activity. One in vitro study found that an ethanolic extract of Brazilian green propolis induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells. Another in vitro study found that an ethanolic extract of Russian black propolis inhibited the growth of human hepatoma cells. Animal studies have shown that Brazilian green propolis inhibits the growth of and induced apoptosis in lung cancer cells.
  • Immune system activity.
    In vitro and animal studies suggest that propolis may have immune system-stimulating activity. One in vitro study found that an ethanolic extract of Brazilian green propolis stimulated the production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) in human monocytes. Another in vitro study found that a methanolic extract of Russian black propolis increased the number of natural killer (NK) cells. Animal studies have shown that Brazilian green propolis increases the number of macrophages and T lymphocytes and stimulates the production of IL-4, IL-10, and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma).
  • Wound healing activity.
    Animal studies suggest that propolis may promote wound healing. One study found that an ointment containing propolis accelerated the healing of experimental burns in rats. Another study found that a cream containing propolis and honey promoted the healing of skin wounds in rats.
  • Antioxidant Activity
    Propolis has been shown to have antioxidant activity in vitro. The antioxidant activity of propolis is thought to be due to its flavonoid content.

CLINICAL STUDIES

The authors concluded that once-daily intranasal spray containing 5% propolis is an effective treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the efficacy of a once-daily intranasal spray containing 5% propolis in 60 patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.34 Patients were treated for 4 weeks and evaluated at baseline and at 2 and 4 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the change in the score on the Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) from baseline to week 4. Secondary outcome measures included changes in nasal symptoms (assessed by a visual analog scale), daily medication use, and peak expiratory flow rate.

At week 4, the mean RQLQ score decreased by 1.94 in the propolis group and by 0.77 in the placebo group (P=0.002). The mean visual analog scale score for nasal symptoms decreased by 2.00 in the propolis group and by 0.79 in the placebo group (P=0.002). The mean daily medication use was reduced by 0.54 puffs/day in the propolis group and by 0.19 puffs/day in the placebo group (P=0.048). There were no significant differences between the groups in peak expiratory flow rate.

INDICATIONS AND USAGE

Propolis is a product of bee hive activity. It consists of plant resins and waxes that have been mixed with beeswax and bee saliva. Propolis is used as a medicine.

Propolis is used for treating cold sores, canker sores, and other mouth and throat infections; for eye inflammation; and for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Propolis is also used as an antioxidant and for boosting the immune system. It is also used as a mouthwash for preventing dental plaque.

Other uses include treatment of gingivitis, pharyngitis, prostatitis, stomach ulcers, Crohn’s disease, bladder infections, skin wounds, and burns.

In foods and beverages, propolis is used as a flavoring agent.

Propolis is sometimes applied directly to the skin for cold sores, psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

In manufacturing, propolis is used in cosmetics.

SIDE EFFECTS

Propolis may cause an allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) in people who are allergic to bees or bee products. If you have any allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking propolis.

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.

DOSING CONSIDERATIONS FOR PROPOLIS

The appropriate dose of propolis depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for propolis. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

For cold sores: A 3% propolis ointment applied five times daily for 5 days has been used. A 2% cream applied six times daily for 10 days, a 4% cream applied three times daily for 7 days, and a lip balm containing 1.5% propolis have also been used.

For canker sores: A gel containing 0.2% triethyl citrate and 0.5% propolis has been used four times daily for 5 days or until symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.

For preventing dental plaque: 0.2 mL of a solution containing 2% (20 mg/mL) alcohol free propolis extract in water has been used as a mouthwash for 30 seconds, swished and then spit out, once daily for 4 weeks.

For gingivitis: A 1% propolis extract in glycerin has been applied to the gums three times daily for 2 weeks.

For gum inflammation after dental surgery: A 3% propolis ointment has been applied to the gums four times daily for 7 days.

For sore throat: 0.2 mL of a solution containing 2% (20 mg/mL) alcohol free propolis extract in water has been gargled and then swallowed three times daily for 4 days. A lozenge containing 200 mg of dried propolis has also been used four times daily for 5 days.

For stomach ulcers: 500 mg of propolis extract in capsules has been taken three times daily for 8 weeks.

For Crohn’s disease: 3 grams of powdered Propolis in capsules has been taken orally three times daily on an empty stomach for 4 weeks.

For bladder infections: 500 mg of propolis extract in capsules has been taken four times daily for 1 week.

For skin wounds and burns: A 0.5% to 2% propolis ointment or cream has been applied to the affected area two to three times daily until healed. A gel containing 0.5% propolis, 10% glycerin, and 1% carbomer 940 has been applied topically every 6 hours for up to 21 days.

For skin inflammation due to radiation therapy: A gel containing 0.5% propolis, 10% glycerin, and 1% carbomer 940 has been applied topically every 6 hours for up to 21 days.