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General Information

Propolis is a flavonoid-rich resin made from buds of poplar and conifer trees, beeswax, and other bee secretions. Bees use it to build beehives and embalm dead invaders. The propolis that is available is usually extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingrediented from beehives and, therefore, contains bee products. It has a greenish-brown color and an aromatic smell.

Common Name(s)

propolis, bee propolis, propolis resin

Scientific Name(s)


Scientific Name(s)

Propolis is extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingrediented from beehives of honey bees. It can be taken by mouth as chewable tablets or gummies, caplets, capsules, powders, strips, lozenges, or liquids. It can also be applied to the skin or used as a mouthwash.

The dose of preparations of propolis is usually 0.2 g to 0.6 g of propolis per day.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Oral (taken by mouth) propolis is a source of antioxidantantioxidanta chemical substance that prevents cellular damage from free radicalss for maintaining good health. It is also used in traditional herbal medicine to help relieve sore throat or other mouth and throat infections when used orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) or as a mouthwash.

Topical (applied to the skin) propolis is used traditionally in herbal medicine for minor wounds to help promote wound healing.

Historically, people have used propolis for treating abscesses, healing wounds, and mummification. Today, it can be used to treat canker sores, tubertubera fleshy underground stem or rootculosis, peptic ulcer disease (caused by H. pylori), the common cold, the flu, fungal infections of the mouth, and cancer, and to boost the immune system. People have used it topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin for cleaning wounds and treating genital herpes, cold sores, and minor burns or as a mouth rinse to improve healing following oral surgeries.

There is not enough quality evidence available to assess whether propolis is beneficial for these uses. Additional studies are required to confirm its effectiveness.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

There is insufficient information on the side effects of propolis; however, it is likely well tolerated in most individuals. Propolis taken by mouth may cause mild stomach upset. Oral lozenges or mouthwash can cause irritation in the mouth, peeling lips, and mouth ulcers. Topical propolis can cause local irritation to the skin, eczema, and contact dermatitisdermatitisinflamed skin or skin rash.

People can have allergic reaction to propolis, particularly people who are allergic to bees, bee products, poplar tree products, or balsam of Peru. If you have a known allergy to bee products, bee stings, conifers, or poplars, consult a health care provider before using propolis. If you experience a severe allergic reaction (swelling of face and throat, difficulty breathing) while taking propolis, stop using propolis and seek medical attention immediately.

Propolis may contain chemicals that can worsen asthma. People with asthma should consult a health care provider before using propolis.

If your symptoms persist (for more than 1 month) or worsen, contact your heath care provider.

There is not enough information about the safety of propolis during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Talk to your doctor before using propolis if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Propolis may interact with the following medications:

  • balsam of Peru
  • antimicrobials

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.


  1. Natural Standard – the Authority on Integrative Medicine. Propolis., accessed 8 August 2012.
  2. MedlinePlus - National Library of Medicine. Propolis., accessed 8 August, 2012.
  3. Health Canada, Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Propolis., accessed 8 August 2012.
  4. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Propolis full monograph., accessed 21 September 2012.

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