The Health Benefits of Propolis

A resin produced by bees, propolis has natural healing properties.

Propolis is a resin-like material made by bees 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. Bees use propolis to build their hives.

Propolis is used for diabetescold sores, and swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). It is also used for burns, canker soresgenital herpes, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Propolis is a resinous substance that bees produce from materials collect from tree buds. Rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants, propolis has a long history of use as a natural treatment for a host of health problems. Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.

Research shows propolis has many healing properties, including antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor qualities.

Is propolis found in honey?

A small amount of propolis may be found in certain kinds of honey. Since heat can destroy the healing qualities of propolis, stick to raw honey which is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Is propolis the same as beeswax?

Bees make propolis from beeswax, saliva, and plant materials gathered. In the hive, propolis is used as a glue to close up small gaps, while beeswax is used to fill larger holes. While propolis is made from beeswax, they are not the same.

Possibly Effective for

Diabetes. Research shows that taking propolis may improve blood sugar control by a small amount in people with diabetes. But it doesn’t seem to affect insulin levels or improve insulin resistance.
Cold sores (herpes labialis). Most research shows that applying an ointment or cream containing 0.5% to 3% propolis five times daily helps cold sores to heal faster and reduces pain.
Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Most research shows that rinsing the mouth with a propolis mouth rinse helps heal sores caused by cancer drugs or dentures.

Cold Sore Treatment

Preliminary research suggests that topically applying propolis may help heal cold sores. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2010, for example, scientists found that extracts of propolis possess virus-fighting effects that may help knock out against herpes simplex virus type 1, the virus that causes cold sores.

Genital Herpes Treatment

Applying a propolis-based ointment may help treat sores related to genital herpes, according to a study published in Phytomedicine. For the 10-day study, 90 men and women with genital herpes used an ointment containing flavonoids sourced from propolis, an ointment containing acyclovir (a drug used to reduce pain and speed healing of herpes-related sores), or a placebo ointment.

By the study’s end, 24 out of the 30 participants in the propolis group had healed (compared to 14 out of 30 in the acyclovir group and 12 out of 30 in the placebo group). Given this finding, the study’s authors concluded that an ointment containing flavonoids sourced from propolis may be more effective than both acyclovir and placebo ointments in healing sores related to genital herpes.

Burn Treatment

Propolis may promote the healing of minor burns, according to a study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. For the study, researchers compared the effects of a propolis-based skin cream with those of silver sulfadiazine, a drug commonly used in the treatment of second- and third-degree burns, in patients with second-degree burns.

Study results showed that propolis and silver sulfadiazine were similarly effective in the treatment of burns. What’s more, propolis appeared to offer greater anti-inflammatory benefits than silver sulfadiazine did.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Research suggests propolis can help treat gastrointestinal disorders, including ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal cancers, and ulcers. Components in propolis, including caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), artepillin C, kaempferol, and galangin, have been shown to effectively eliminate pathogens, including H. pylori. The research, however, is limited to animal studies and cell cultures.

Cavity Control

Propolis may help fight cavities, a study from Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin shows. In laboratory research, scientists found that compounds found in propolis helped inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, an oral bacteria known to contribute to the development of cavities.

The study suggests that propolis may also help stop Streptococcus mutans from sticking to the teeth.

Diabetes Management

Findings from animal-based research indicate that propolis may aid in the treatment of diabetes. In a 2005 study published in Pharmacological Research, for example, tests on diabetic rats revealed that treatment with propolis helped lower blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. These results have not be replicated in human studies, however.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Do not use propolis if you have asthma or are allergic to bee by-products (including honey), conifers, poplars, Peru balsam, and salicylates. Propolis may slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or during surgery.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if propolis is safe to use when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use. Propolis is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth while breastfeeding. Doses of 300 mg daily for up to 10 months have been used safely. Stay on the safe side and avoid higher doses when breast-feeding.

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

Bleeding conditions: A certain chemical in propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

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

Surgery: 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.

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

*** it was first published here


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