Propolis

Uses

Propolis

Propolis is the resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and bark of trees, especially poplar and conifer trees. Bees use the propolis along with beeswax to construct their hives.

What Are "Star" Ratings?

a7_3star   Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

a7_2star   Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

a7_1star   For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:


Used for Amount Why
Common Cold and Sore Throat
500 mg one to two times per day 2 stars   Propolis extracts may be helpful in preventing and shortening the duration of the common cold.

2 stars  Common Cold and Sore Throat

500 mg one to two times per day

Propolis is the resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and bark of trees, especially poplar and conifer trees. Propolis extracts may be helpful in preventing and shortening the duration of the common cold. A preliminary clinical trial reported propolis extract (daily dose not given) reduced upper respiratory infections in children.1 In one small, double-blind trial of propolis for the common cold, the group taking propolis extract (amount unstated) became free of symptoms more quickly than the placebo group.2 Most manufacturers recommend 500 mg of oral propolis products once or twice daily.


Used for Amount Why
Female Infertility and Endometriosis
500 mg twice per day 2 stars   For infertile women with endometriosis, taking propolis may improve the likelihood of pregnancy.

2 stars  Female Infertility and Endometriosis

500 mg twice per day

In a preliminary study of women with infertility and mild endometriosis, supplementation with propolis (500 mg twice a day for six months) was associated with a pregnancy rate of 60%, compared with a rate of 20% in the placebo group (a statistically significant difference).3 Whether propolis would be beneficial for infertile women who do not have endometriosis is not known.


Used for Amount Why
Genital Herpes
Apply a 3% propolis ointment to the lesions four times per day 2 stars   One study found that an ointment containing propolis was almost twice as effective against herpes as topical antiviral medication or a placebo ointment.

2 stars  Genital Herpes

Apply a 3% propolis ointment to the lesions four times per day

A test tube study found that flavonoids present in propolis are responsible for the supplement’s antiviral action.4 A controlled study found that an ointment containing propolis, used four times daily, was almost twice as effective as topical antiviral medication or a placebo ointment.5


Used for Amount Why
Parasites
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner 2 stars   Propolis, a resinous substance collected by bees from trees, has antimicrobial properties that may help protect against parasitic infections in the gastrointestinal tract.

2 stars  Parasites

Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner

Propolis is a resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and bark of trees, especially poplar and conifer trees. The antimicrobial properties of propolis may help protect against parasitic infections in the gastrointestinal tract. One preliminary trial of propolis extract for children and adults with giardiasis showed a 52% rate of successful parasite elimination in children and a 60% elimination rate in adults (amount not stated).6 These results are not as impressive as those achieved with conventional drugs for giardiasis, though, so propolis should not be used as the sole therapy for parasites without first consulting a physician about available medical treatment.


Used for Amount Why
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Apply a topical product according to package directions 2 stars   Propolis, the resinous substance collected by bees from trees, has anti-inflammatory effects and appears to improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

2 stars  Rheumatoid Arthritis

Apply a topical product according to package directions

Propolis is the resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and bark of trees, especially poplar and conifer trees. Anti-inflammatory effects from topical application of propolis extract have been noted in one animal study,7and a preliminary controlled trial found that patients with RA treated with topical propolis extract (amount and duration not noted) had greater improvements in symptoms compared to placebo.8


Used for Amount Why
Yeast Infection
Apply an alcohol extract containing 2 grams per 25 ml four times per day 2 stars   In one study, topical application of an alcohol extract of Brazilian propolis resolved candidiasis people who were had oral candidiasis associated with denture use.

2 stars  Yeast Infection

Apply an alcohol extract containing 2 grams per 25 ml four times per day

In a preliminary study, topical application of an alcohol extract of Brazilian propolis resolved candidiasis in 12 of 12 people who were experiencing oral candidiasis associated with the use of dentures. The extract, which was prepared by mixing 2 grams of dried propolis in 25 ml of an 80:20 alcohol:water solution, was applied to the lesions four times a day for seven days.9


Used for Amount Why
Cold Sores
Refer to label instructions 1 star   Applying an ointment containing propolis has been shown to relieve genital herpes. It is likely that this treatment might also benefit people with cold sores.

1 star  Cold Sores

Application of an ointment containing propolis, the resin collected by bees from trees, has been shown to relieve genital herpes more effectively than topical acyclovir.10 It is likely that this treatment might also benefit people with cold sores, although this has not been tested. Propolis ointment should be applied four times per day.

How It Works

How to Use It

Most manufacturers recommend 500 mg of oral propolis products once or twice daily. For topical applications, follow label instructions.

Where to Find It

Propolis is available in liquid extract form as well as in capsules and tablets. Topical creams and sprays containing propolis are also available, but whether they closely resemble topical propolis products used in research is unclear.

Possible Deficiencies

Propolis is not an essential nutrient and no deficiency states have been reported.

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with this supplement.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Propolis is generally nontoxic, though allergic reactions have been reported.11 These reactions are typically limited to skin rashes;12 however, as with other bee products (e.g., pollen and royal jelly), more severe allergic reactions are possible. People who are allergic to bee pollen, honey, or conifer and poplar trees should not use propolis unless tested first by an allergy specialist. As the effects of propolis during pregnancy and breast-feeding have not been sufficiently evaluated, women should not use it during these times unless directed to do so by a physician.

References

1. Crisan I, Zaharia CN, Popovici F, et al. Natural propolis extract NIVCRISOL in the treatment of acute and chronic rhinopharyngitis in children. Rom J Virol 1995;46:115–33.

2. Szmeja Z, Kulczynski B, Sosnowski Z, Konopacki K. Therapeutic value of flavonoids in Rhinovirus infections. Otolaryngol Pol 1989;43(3):180–4 [in Polish].

3. Ali AFM, Awadallah A. Bee propolis versus placebo in the treatment of infertility associated with minimal or mild endometriosis: a pilot randomized controlled trial. A modern trend. Fertil Steril2003;80(Suppl 3):S32 [abstract].

4. Debiaggi M, Tateo F, Pagani L, et al. Effects of propolis flavonoids on virus infectivity and replication. Microbiologica 1990;13:207–13.

5. Vynograd N, Vynograd I, Sosnowski Z. A comparative multi-centre study of the efficacy of propolis, acyclovir and placebo in the treatment of genital herpes (HSV). Phytomedicine 2000;7:1–6.

6. Miyares C, Hollands I, Castaneda C, et al. Clinical trial with a preparation based on propolis “propolisina” in human giardiasis. Acta Gastroenterol Latinoam 1988;18:195–201.

7. Park EH, Kahng JH. Suppressive effects of propolis in rat adjuvant arthritis. Arch Pharm Res 1999;22:554–8.

8. Siro B, Szelekovszky S, Lakatos B, et al. Local treatment of rheumatic diseases with propolis compounds. Orv Hetil 1996;137:1365–70 [in Hungarian].

9. Santos VR, Pimenta FJ, Aguiar MC, et al. Oral candidiasis treatment with Brazilian ethanol propolis extract. Phytother Res2005;19:652–4.

10. Vynograd N, Vynograd I, Sosnowski Z. A comparative multi-centre study of the efficacy of propolis, acyclovir and placebo in the treatment of genital herpes (HSV). Phytomedicine 2000;7:1–6.

11. Burdock GA. Review of the biological properties and toxicity of bee propolis (propolis). Food Chem Toxicol 1998;36:347–63 [review].

12. Hausen BM, Wollenweber E, Senff H, Post B. Propolis allergy. (I). Origin, properties, usage and literature review. Contact Dermatitis 1987;17:163–70 [review].

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