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Propolis
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Apis mellifera L., bee glue, bee propolis, bee putty, Bienenharz (German), Brazilian green propolis, Brazilian propolis, Bulgarian propolis, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), cera alba, chizukit, cinnamic acid, flavonoids, galangin, Greek propolis, hive dross, Propolin H, propolis balsam, propolis resin, propolis wax, propolisina (Spanish), Russian penicillin, Taiwanese propolis, terpenes, WSDP.

Background

  • Bees create propolis, a natural resin, to build their hives. Propolis is made from the buds of conifer and poplar trees, beeswax, and other bee secretions. Historically, propolis was used in Greece to treat abscesses. The Assyrians also used propolis to heal wounds and tumors, while the Egyptians used it for mummification. Today, propolis is commonly found in chewing gum, cosmetics, creams, lozenges, and skin creams. It is frequently used in foods and beverages with the claim that it can maintain or improve health.
  • Propolis has shown promise in dentistry for dental caries and as a natural sealant and enamel hardener. The effectiveness of propolis against herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 and parasitic infections has been demonstrated in early studies. However, well-designed studies are lacking, and further evidence is warranted in order to determine if propolis is effective for any health condition.
  • Numerous case reports have demonstrated propolis to be a potent allergen and sensitizing agent. Therefore, it should be used cautiously in allergic people. Toxicity with propolis is rare, although there are multiple case reports of skin irritation and itching, as well as blood vessel inflammation.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.