Propolis is a resin-like material made by bees from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees, it is used by bees to build their hives. It is usually obtained from beehives and contains bee products.
Thousands of years ago, ancient civilisations used propolis for its medicinal properties. Greeks used it for abscesses. The word propolis comes from the Greek pro meaning in defence of and polis city, i.e. defence of beehives. It was used on wounds to help the healing process and to fight many external and internal infections. Ancient Egyptians used Propolis to embalm mummies.
The composition of propolis can vary depending on the location of the bees and what trees and flowers they came across. Therefore, propolis from Europe will not have the same chemical makeup as propolis from Brazil.
Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal. Benefits have been proposed for conditions such as diabetes, cold sores, inflammation of the mouth lining (oral mucositis), burns and sores.
Propolis may also reduce swelling due to its anti-inflammatory action [iii].
A study showed, a daily intake of 900 mg of bee propolis supplement for 12 weeks resulted in improvement of glycemic and some serum lipid levels in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [iv]. It is thought this effect is due to the potential of propolis to scavenge free radicals and reduce the tissue damage associated with the development of diabetes [v].
A study found when topical propolis was applied three times a day, it helped to heal cold sores faster than no treatment. The researchers found the propolis cream not only reduced the amount of herpes virus present in a person’s body, but also protected the body against future cold sore breakouts [vi].
Asthma: 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, or those on anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medication.
Allergies: Do not use propolis if you are allergic to bee by-products including honey, conifers, poplars, Peru balsam, and salicylates.
Breastfeeding and Pregnancy: Large quantities of propolis may not be safe.
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