Propolis: A Buzz Worthy Supplement (And Its Many Benefits to Keep You Healthy)

10 min read

Propolis capsules are popping up in health food stores everywhere, but what exactly makes this superfood such a hot commodity? Here's a look at why it may be time to swap your include this buzzworthy bee product to your diet regimen.

Long before we all learned to love honey and beeswax products, humans have been using this immune boosting substance. Also known as bee glue, propolis is what the little guys use to seal up their hives to keep out bacteria, viruses, and predators helping them create those absolutely adorable honeycombs that you see all over Pinterest.

Pronounced pro-po-lis, propolis is from a Greek word which means “to defend the city" - pro (as in the word “for” or "to defend”) + polis (here, meaning “city”), which is exactly what this sticky substance does to help bees protect their nests.

Well known for its health promoting properties, it has been used since ancient times in folk medicine. Its natural antibiotic and antiseptic properties make it a valuable ally in the war against illness, infection and inflammation.

But what is propolis made of? And what are the top health benefits of propolis?

Let's find out…

Bee propolis: Chemical Composition and what its made of

Propolis is a resinous material. Bees gather the resins from the sap of trees, mix them with beeswax and enzymes, and turn them into propolis.

The remarkable properties of propolis are due to a complex combination of its chemical constituents. Chemical analysis has shown that propolis appears to be made up mostly of phytonutrients (which is science speaks for compounds from plants - mainly fruits and vegetables)  flavonoids and phenols, as well as vitamins, pollen and various terpenoids like Diterpene. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-cancer, antibacterial and antioxidant properties which are responsible for many of its health benefits.

So what does it do for us?

The benefits of taking propolis

While clinical studies to determine the effects of propolis on health are few, today, however, this natural remedy is increasingly being hailed for its impressive health benefits. Propolis supplementation has been linked to:

Supports a healthy immune system

Chronic inflammation can cause your immune system to go awry and lead to diseases. The flavonoids, phenols and other compounds in propolis work to increase the effectiveness of immune responses in humans and animals. A study has shown that the ingestion of propolis flavonoids in mice helps increase immune response. Additionally, the anti inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidative, and antibiotic properties of propolis makes it a natural ally for your immune system keeping illnesses at bay.

Diabetes Management

If you have diabetes, using bee propolis may help lower your blood sugar levels but it has little effect on insulin or even insulin resistance.

Propolis Help to Maintain Oral Health

Cancer treatments are notorious for causing mouth sores. If you’re in this position, you may be able to hasten healing by taking propolis orally or rinsing your mouth with a propolis mouth rinse. Furthermore, propolis has been proven useful in a variety of oral and dental applications. It helps in fighting tooth decay according to a study published on Caries Research. This is because of its powerful antibacterial qualities, which inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans - an oral bacteria known to contribute to the development of cavities. Other benefits: Another research suggested that periodontal patients had better results receiving subgingival irrigations with a propolis extract as part of their treatment  than scaling and root planing alone.

Helps with allergies

If you're among those who suffer from stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy nose and eyes, when allergy season rolls around, you can get relief from bee propolis minus the drowsy effects of most common over the counter anti allergy medications. Though more research needs to be conducted on this, early results show that propolis works by inhibiting histamine release.

Cold Sore Treatment

The topical application of propolis may help heal cold sores, preliminary research suggests. To reiterate, researchers in this study in Phytotherapy Research discovered that extracts of propolis can help fight herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1, the cause of cold sores.

Burn Treatment

Propolis has been touted for its skin-friendly properties since ancient times. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, a combination of propolis with silver sulfadiazine (a common drug for treating burns) resulted in better outcomes as compared with treatment with silver sulfadiazine alone per this study published on the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine where it was used to treat patients with second-degree burns.

Protects Cardiovascular Health

The potential propolis to protect the heart is one of the many benefits scientists are looking into. In a study conducted in Talca, Chile on a human population, the use of propolis was found to have positive effects on oxidative status and improvement of HDL-c, both of which contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Treatment of Genital Herpes

Treatment for genital herpes has been shown to be most effective when using topical products that contain propolis. Acyclovir infused with flavonoids from propolis helps speed up the healing of blisters and lesions, the result of a research study published in Phytomedicine showed.

Good for the lungs and upper respiratory tract

Propolis may help protect the lungs and keep the upper respiratory tract healthy. In a profound finding, propolis supplementation was able to revert cigarette smoke-induced emphysema in a study conducted on mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 60 days. Similarly, as reported in a Systematic Scoping Review, evidence shows that propolis also helps to treat respiratory tract infections.

Helps keep the Gut Healthy

Laboratory research shows that the compound caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) as well as artepillin C, kaempferol, and galangin, found in propolis, can help get rid of the the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, but these findings have yet to be tested in humans. This bacteria has been fingered in gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers and gastrointestinal cancers.

Warning! Possible Side Effects of Using Propolis

If you've ever wondered whether or not you should be taking supplements, it's probably because you're concerned about the side effects of taking them. Propolis is a perfect example of this.

  • Allergy: The most common side effect of propolis is allergic reaction. People who are allergic to bee pollen (or any other bee products) may experience an adverse reaction when taking propolis supplements.
  • Lozenges containing propolis can cause irritation and mouth ulcers.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid propolis because there isn't enough information to confirm whether it's safe for them to use.
  • Breast Feeding: When used in recommended doses, propolis possibly is safe while nursing. The recommended dose is 300 milligrams daily.
  • Bleeding conditions: Propolis can slow the process that causes a bleeding wound to clot.Therefore, taking propolis might not be a good idea for people with bleeding disorders or those using blood thinners.

How to Take Propolis


Various forms of propolis can be purchased, including tablets, capsules, powder, extract, and lozenge. It's also used topically in ointments, creams, lotions, and other personal-care products. 


Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider about which type of product and dose might be best for you. Still, propolis is considered safe for most adults when used in doses up to to 400-500 mg daily for up to 13 months.

Things to Keep in Mind

Choosing the right vitamin or supplement can be a confusing task. With hundreds of options in the supplement aisle, it's hard to know what to buy. But there are some easy ways to make sure you're getting a quality product.

Getting your vitamins and supplements from a trusted source is key. Often, low-quality products come from overseas; be on the lookout for country of origin labels. When selecting a brand of supplements, look for products that have been certified by regulatory authorities like the Consumer Labs, The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, or NSF International. These organisations ensure safety and purity and are considered to be reliable indicators of quality.


With so many benefits to bee propolis, it's hard to argue that it isn't worth taking a look at. With some time and research under your belt on the subject, it is time for you to decide for yourself if this interesting substance is one you want to try out for yourself.


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