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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 extracted from beehives and, therefore, contains bee products. It has a greenish-brown colour and an aromatic smell.

Common Name(s)

propolis, bee propolis, propolis resin

Scientific Name(s)


Scientific Name(s)

Propolis is extracted 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 antioxidants 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 orally 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, tuberculosis, 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 topically 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 headaches. 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 dermatitis.

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 can increase your risk of bleeding, particularly if you take medications such as anticoagulants (e.g., apixaban, warfarin) or antiplatelets (e.g., acetylsalicylic acid [ASA], clopidogrel). Stop taking propolis at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Propolis may increase the levels of certain medications metabolized by the liver. Ask your pharmacist about any interactions that it may with your current medications.

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.

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. Health Canada, Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Propolis Oral.
  2. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Propolis Buccal.
  3. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Propolis Topical.
  4. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Propolis.

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