Propolis: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and More
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Propolis: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and More

Apr 28, 2023

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Propolis is a resin-like material that bees produce from the sap of needle-leaved trees combined with their saliva and beeswax. Propolis is used as a sealant for bees to build their hives, but it may also be beneficial for humans. It is also known as Bee Glue, Bee Propolis, and Baume de Propolis.

Researchers believe that propolis may have anti-inflammatory properties that help promote wound healing and protect the body from bacteria and viruses. It may also help relieve burns and swelling, but there are limited studies on this. Therefore, researchers also attribute these potential benefits to small sample sizes and how the studies were carried out.

Research shows that propolis may be beneficial for different health problems, such as tooth decay, inflammation, and allergies, among others.

Here are the most popular health benefits of propolis.

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Authors of a 2015 review note that propolis may help reduce calcium phosphate formation, which is the main component that causes dental plaque.

The study explains that propolis has antibacterial effects, as it helped reduce the amount of bacteria in people who had periodontitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), periodontitis is a gum infection that develops when bacteria builds up in the teeth and gums. It can cause bad breath, teeth sensitivity, and gum swelling. It mostly affects people who have diabetes, crooked teeth, and poor oral hygiene practices.

One study reviewed the effects of mouthwashes containing propolis and chlorhexidine in individuals with dental plaque and gingivitis—a form of gum disease that leads to bleeding gums, tenderness, and inflammation. You’re more likely to get gingivitis if you smoke and do not floss your teeth.

The researchers found that propolis-based mouthwashes can be effective in reducing plaque and inflammation. There were more individuals who developed side effects with chlorhexidine products, such as a burning sensation, teeth staining, and a change in taste perception.

However, the study is based on a small sample size and does not indicate if the participants are regular smokers. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of mouthwashes with propolis in clinical settings.

Propolis’ anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties may make it a promising alternative treatment for acne. A study of 40 participants with acne found that propolis ethanolic extract can effectively treat acne vulgaris. The study also found that it was well-tolerated and safe. The participants responded well to treatment but did develop mild irritation. More studies are needed to determine propolis’ application in different skin diseases.

One study claims that propolis may have anticancer properties. It may help prevent cancer cells from multiplying and blocks the pathways in which cancer cells signal to each other.

Another study also states that Chinese propolis has anti-tumor effects, and people with breast cancer may use it as an additional treatment.

Recent studies have found that propolis can help reduce wound healing time. Doctors may recommend it as an alternative treatment for skin burns or diabetic ulcers. However, there needs to be more evidence that describes propolis use for wound healing.

You can find propolis as an oral supplement, a cream you apply on the skin, and a mouthwash for your oral health.

It is best to consult a healthcare provider before buying any propolis products. Your doctor can confirm if they are safe for your health and advise how to use them.

They may also suggest doing a patch test to make sure you are not allergic to the ingredient.

A 70-milligram daily dose of oral propolis appears to be safe for humans.

Adults have also mostly taken propolis in doses of 400-500 milligrams per day for up to 13 months.

Propolis products are considered safe when used in low doses.

If you're breastfeeding, your healthcare provider may recommend taking 300 milligrams of oral propolis per day, as high doses can be harmful.

It's best to avoid using propolis products if you’re pregnant. There is not enough evidence describing their use during pregnancy.

If you're allergic to bee products, you should avoid using creams, as these can cause an allergic skin reaction. Lozenges can also cause irritation and mouth ulcers.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people should not assume that dietary supplements labeled as natural are safe. The ingredients can still be harmful if you take them in high doses over a long period of time. They may also interact with foods or medications.

In addition, dietary supplements should not state that they can treat or cure a disease, as it is something that only an approved drug can do.

Propolis can cause interactions if you use it while taking other medications or supplements. Propolis can slow blood clotting. Herbal supplements, such as garlic, ginger, and ginkgo biloba, have similar effects, so taking them with propolis can increase bleeding risk.

Your doctor may prescribe warfarin to treat blood clots and lower your heart attack risk. Propolis can reduce warfarin's effects, increasing your risk of blood clotting.

You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions and your healthcare provider's recommended dose. High doses may not be safe, especially if you’re receiving other treatments and you are breastfeeding.

According to a 2015 study, propolis is usually well-tolerated and not associated with cases of toxicity.

If you develop any concerning side effects, consult your healthcare provider right away.

There isn't enough information about the short and long-term side effects of propolis, but you should avoid using propolis if you are allergic to honey and bee products.

If you're undergoing surgery, your surgeon may advise stopping propolis treatment before your appointment, as it can increase your risk of bleeding.

Propolis-based mouthwashes may cause:

It may also lead to irritation in patients with acne.

You can buy propolis oral tablets and capsules, powder, and lozenges. You can also find ointments, creams, or lotions that are applied to your skin. Most of these products are found online or at health food stores.

Propolis is a waxy substance that comes from beeswax, bee saliva, and tree sap. You can find propolis products for sale online or at a health food store.

Propolis may help relieve inflammation, reduce acne breakouts, and promote wound healing.

Always follow your doctor's advice, as propolis can interact with medications and increase the risk of blood clotting.

MedlinePlus. Propolis.

Martinotti S, Ranzato E. Propolis: A new frontier for wound healing? Burns & Trauma. 2015;3:s41038-015-0010-z. doi:10.1186/s41038-015-0010-z

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Periodontal disease.

Halboub E, Al-Maweri SA, Al-Wesabi M, et al. Efficacy of propolis-based mouthwashes on dental plaque and gingival inflammation: A systematic review. BMC Oral Health. 2020;20(1):198. doi:10.1186/s12903-020-01185-5

National Health Service. Gum disease.

Mohammad Ali B, Ghoname N, Hodeib A, Elbadawy M. Significance of topical propolis in the treatment of facial acne vulgaris. Egypt J Dermatol Venerol. 2015;35(1):29. doi:10.4103/1110-6530.162468

Chan GCF, Cheung KW, Sze DMY. The immunomodulatory and anticancer properties of propolis. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2013;44(3):262-273.


Xuan H, Li Z, Yan H, et al. Antitumor activity of Chinese propolis in human breast cancer mcf-7 and mda-mb-231 cells. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014:1-11. doi:10.1155/2014/280120

da Rosa C, Bueno IL, Quaresma ACM, Longato GB. Healing potential of propolis in skin wounds evidenced by clinical studies. Pharmaceuticals. 2022;15(9):1143. doi:10.3390/ph15091143

Braakhuis A. Evidence on the health benefits of supplemental propolis. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2705. doi: 10.3390/nu11112705

S. VKL. Propolis in dentistry and oral cancer management. N Am J Med Sci. 2014;6(6):250-259. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.134369

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA 101: Dietary supplements.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Dietary supplement products & ingredients.