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Propolis


What is it?

Propolis is a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. Propolis is rarely available in its pure form. It is usually obtained from beehives and contains bee products.

Propolis has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to 350 B.C., the time of Aristotle. Greeks have used propolis for abscesses; Assyrians have used it for healing wounds and tumors; and Egyptians have used it for mummification. It still has many medicinal uses today, although its effectiveness has only been shown for a couple of them.

Propolis is used for canker sores and infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis), by viruses (including flu, 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 boosting the immune system; and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease. Propolis is also used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

People sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing, genital herpes and cold sores; as a mouth rinse for speeding healing following oral surgery; and for the treatment of minor burns.

In manufacturing, propolis is used as an ingredient in cosmetics.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PROPOLIS are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Cold sores. Applying a specific 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) might help improve healing time and reduce pain from cold sores.
  • Genital herpes. Applying a 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) might improve healing of recurrent genital lesions caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Some research suggests that it might heal lesions faster and more completely than the conventional treatment 5% acyclovir ointment.
  • Improving healing and reducing pain and inflammation after mouth surgery.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Cancer sores.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Infections.
  • Nose and throat cancer.
  • Improving immune response.
  • Ulcers.
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders.
  • Common cold.
  • Wounds.
  • Inflammation.
  • Minor burns.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate propolis for these uses.

How does it work?

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Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.

Are there safety concerns?

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There isn't enough information to know if propolis is safe. 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.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of propolis during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Asthma: Some experts believe some chemicals in propolis may make asthma worse. Avoid using propolis if you have asthma.

Allergies: Don’t use propolis if you are allergic to bee by-products including honey, conifers, poplars, Peru balsam, and salicylates.

Are there interactions with medications?

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It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For cold sores: A 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) applied 5 times daily.
  • For herpes outbreak: A 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) applied to the blisters 4 times daily.
  • As a mouth rinse after mouth surgery: A solution containing propolis, water, and alcohol.

Other names

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Acide de Cire d’Abeille, Baume de Propolis, Bee Glue, Bee Propolis, Beeswax Acid, Cire d’Abeille Synthétique, Cire de Propolis, Colle d’Abeille, Hive Dross, Pénicilline Russe, Propóleos, Propolis Balsam, Propolis Cera, Propolis d'Abeille, Propolis Resin, Propolis Wax, Résine de Propolis, Russian Penicillin, Synthetic Beeswax.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Propolis page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/390.html.

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  19. Tosti, A., Caponeri, G. M., Bardazzi, F., and et al. Propolis contact dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis 1985;12:227-228. View abstract.
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  21. Ayala, F., Lembo, G., Nappa, P., and et al. Contact dermatitis from propolis. Contact Dermatitis 1985;12:181-182. View abstract.
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  24. Cirasino, L., Pisati, A., and Fasani, F. Contact dermatitis from propolis. Contact Dermatitis 1987;16:110-111. View abstract.
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  35. Kosenko, S. V. and Kosovich, T. I. [The treatment of periodontitis with prolonged-action propolis preparations (clinical x-ray research)]. Stomatologiia (Mosk) 1990;69:27-29. View abstract.
  36. Raton, J. A., Aguirre, A., and Diaz-Perez, J. L. Contact dermatitis from propolis. Contact Dermatitis 1990;22:183-184. View abstract.
  37. Grange, J. M. and Davey, R. W. Antibacterial properties of propolis (bee glue). J R.Soc Med 1990;83:159-160. View abstract.
  38. Debiaggi, M., Tateo, F., Pagani, L., and et al. Effects of propolis flavonoids on virus infectivity and replication. Microbiologica 1990;13:207-213. View abstract.
  39. Brumfitt, W., Hamilton-Miller, J. M., and Franklin, I. Antibiotic activity of natural products: 1. Propolis. Microbios 1990;62:19-22. View abstract.
  40. Scheller, S., Wilczok, T., Imielski, S., and et al. Free radical scavenging by ethanol extract of propolis. Int J Radiat.Biol. 1990;57:461-465. View abstract.
  41. Ikeno, K., Ikeno, T., and Miyazawa, C. Effects of propolis on dental caries in rats. Caries Res 1991;25:347-351. View abstract.
  42. Abdel-Fattah, N. S. and Nada, O. H. Effect of propolis versus metronidazole and their combined use in treatment of acute experimental giardiasis. J Egypt.Soc Parasitol. 2007;37(2 Suppl):691-710. View abstract.
  43. Coelho, L. G., Bastos, E. M., Resende, C. C., Paula e Silva CM, Sanches, B. S., de Castro, F. J., Moretzsohn, L. D., Vieira, W. L., and Trindade, O. R. Brazilian green propolis on Helicobacter pylori infection. a pilot clinical study. Helicobacter. 2007;12:572-574. View abstract.
  44. Munstedt, K., Hellner, M., Hackethal, A., Winter, D., and von Georgi, R. Contact allergy to propolis in beekeepers. Allergol.Immunopathol.(Madr.) 2007;35:95-100. View abstract.
  45. Weng, M. S., Liao, C. H., Chen, C. N., Wu, C. L., and Lin, J. K. Propolin H from Taiwanese propolis induces G1 arrest in human lung carcinoma cells. J Agric Food Chem 6-27-2007;55:5289-5298. View abstract.
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  48. Takara, K., Fujita, M., Matsubara, M., Minegaki, T., Kitada, N., Ohnishi, N., and Yokoyama, T. Effects of propolis extract on sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents in HeLa and resistant sublines. Phytother Res 2007;21:841-846. View abstract.
  49. Suzuki, K., Tanaka, I., Nakanishi, I., Kurematsu, A., Yakumaru, H., Ikota, N., and Ishihara, H. Drastic effect of several caffeic acid derivatives on the induction of heme oxygenase-1 expression revealed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Biofactors 2006;28(3-4):151-158. View abstract.
  50. Ozan, F., Polat, Z. A., Er, K., Ozan, U., and Deger, O. Effect of propolis on survival of periodontal ligament cells: new storage media for avulsed teeth. J Endod. 2007;33:570-573. View abstract.
  51. Celli, N., Dragani, L. K., Murzilli, S., Pagliani, T., and Poggi, A. In vitro and in vivo stability of caffeic acid phenethyl ester, a bioactive compound of propolis. J Agric Food Chem 5-2-2007;55:3398-3407. View abstract.
  52. Ahn, M. R., Kunimasa, K., Ohta, T., Kumazawa, S., Kamihira, M., Kaji, K., Uto, Y., Hori, H., Nagasawa, H., and Nakayama, T. Suppression of tumor-induced angiogenesis by Brazilian propolis: major component artepillin C inhibits in vitro tube formation and endothelial cell proliferation. Cancer Lett 7-18-2007;252:235-243. View abstract.
  53. Naito, Y., Yasumuro, M., Kondou, K., and Ohara, N. Antiinflammatory effect of topically applied propolis extract in carrageenan-induced rat hind paw edema. Phytother Res 2007;21:452-456. View abstract.
  54. Sroka, Z. The screening analysis of antiradical activity of some plant extracts. Postepy Hig.Med Dosw.(Online.) 2006;60:563-570. View abstract.
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  56. Oliveira, A. C., Shinobu, C. S., Longhini, R., Franco, S. L., and Svidzinski, T. I. Antifungal activity of propolis extract against yeasts isolated from onychomycosis lesions. Mem.Inst Oswaldo Cruz 2006;101:493-497. View abstract.
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  66. Speciale, A., Costanzo, R., Puglisi, S., Musumeci, R., Catania, M. R., Caccamo, F., and Iauk, L. Antibacterial activity of propolis and its active principles alone and in combination with macrolides, beta-lactams and fluoroquinolones against microorganisms responsible for respiratory infections. J Chemother. 2006;18:164-171. View abstract.
  67. Suzuki, T., Nishimaki-Mogami, T., Kawai, H., Kobayashi, T., Shinozaki, Y., Sato, Y., Hashimoto, T., Asakawa, Y., Inoue, K., Ohno, Y., Hayakawa, T., and Kawanishi, T. Screening of novel nuclear receptor agonists by a convenient reporter gene assay system using green fluorescent protein derivatives. Phytomedicine 2006;13:401-411. View abstract.
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  74. Freitas, S. F., Shinohara, L., Sforcin, J. M., and Guimaraes, S. In vitro effects of propolis on Giardia duodenalis trophozoites. Phytomedicine 2006;13:170-175. View abstract.
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  78. Ozkul, Y., Silici, S., and Eroglu, E. The anticarcinogenic effect of propolis in human lymphocytes culture. Phytomedicine 2005;12:742-747. View abstract.
  79. Cushnie, T. P. and Lamb, A. J. Antimicrobial activity of flavonoids. Int J Antimicrob.Agents 2005;26:343-356. View abstract.
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  82. Imhof, M., Lipovac, M., Kurz, Ch, Barta, J., Verhoeven, H. C., and Huber, J. C. Propolis solution for the treatment of chronic vaginitis. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2005;89:127-132. View abstract.
  83. Black, R. J. Vulval eczema associated with propolis sensitization from topical therapies treated successfully with pimecrolimus cream. Clin Exp.Dermatol. 2005;30:91-92. View abstract.
  84. Gebaraa, E. C., Pustiglioni, A. N., de Lima, L. A., and Mayer, M. P. Propolis extract as an adjuvant to periodontal treatment. Oral Health Prev.Dent. 2003;1:29-35. View abstract.
  85. Ting, P. T. and Silver, S. Allergic contact dermatitis to propolis. J Drugs Dermatol. 2004;3:685-686. View abstract.
  86. Russo, A., Cardile, V., Sanchez, F., Troncoso, N., Vanella, A., and Garbarino, J. A. Chilean propolis: antioxidant activity and antiproliferative action in human tumor cell lines. Life Sci. 12-17-2004;76:545-558. View abstract.
  87. Hsu, C. Y., Chiang, W. C., Weng, T. I., Chen, W. J., and Yuan, A. Laryngeal edema and anaphalactic shock after topical propolis use for acute pharyngitis. Am J Emerg.Med 2004;22:432-433. View abstract.
  88. Botushanov, P. I., Grigorov, G. I., and Aleksandrov, G. A. A clinical study of a silicate toothpaste with extract from propolis. Folia Med (Plovdiv.) 2001;43(1-2):28-30. View abstract.
  89. Orsolic, N., Knezevic, A. H., Sver, L., Terzic, S., and Basic, I. Immunomodulatory and antimetastatic action of propolis and related polyphenolic compounds. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;94(2-3):307-315. View abstract.
  90. Melliou, E. and Chinou, I. Chemical analysis and antimicrobial activity of Greek propolis. Planta Med 2004;70:515-519. View abstract.
  91. Pasolini, G., Semenza, D., Capezzera, R., Sala, R., Zane, C., Rodella, R., and Calzavara-Pinton, P. Allergic contact cheilitis induced by repeated contact with propolis-enriched honey. Contact Dermatitis 2004;50:322-323. View abstract.
  92. Garrido, Fernandez S., Lasa, Luaces E., Echechipia, Modaz S., Arroabarren, Aleman E., Anda, Apinaniz M., and Tabar Purroy, A. I. Allergic contact stomatitis due to therapeutic propolis. Contact Dermatitis 2004;50:321. View abstract.
  93. Lu, Y., Wu, C., and Yuan, Z. Determination of hesperetin, cinnamic acid and nicotinic acid in propolis with micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography. Fitoterapia 2004;75(3-4):267-276. View abstract.
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