Propolis is a natural resinous mixture that honey bees collect from buds, pollen, and other botanical sources. Bees use it as a glue to seal cracks and waterproof the hive.
Studies show that propolis exhibits bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties depending on concentration and treatment time. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties of propolis have been shown in many in vitro studies. However, a limited number of clinical trials on humans have been reported. Propolis-based products such as tinctures, ointments and sprays are widely used in alternative medicine for the treatment of various disorders including ear, nose, and throat infections, colds, flu, bronquial asthma, and stomach problems. Although the antimicrobial properties of propolis have been confirmed, clinical trials using standardized extracts with carefully chosen clinical endpoints are needed.
The chemical composition of propolis varies according to plant species and geographic region, and is rich in flavonoids (such as phenolic acids, flavones, aldehydes, ketones, chalcones, dihydrochalcones, terpenes, aliphatic acids and esters, aromatic compounds and metals), essential oils, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The pharmacological effects of propolis depend on the combination of these components as well as on the mode of action. The antimicrobial activity of propolis may be due to its direct interaction with the bacteria or the stimulation of the host immune system. It has been hypothesized that propolis inhibits bacterial growth by increasing cellular permeability, altering membrane potential, reducing ATP production, and disturbing the cell cycle.
In addition, propolis has been shown to exert bacteriostatic activity by interfering with the replication of viral DNA and RNA by blocking enzymes responsible for the process. Finally, propolis was also found to have antineoplastic, antidiabetic and antiinflammatory properties based on the results of in vitro and animal studies.
In addition to its antimicrobial properties, propolis has been shown to have strong antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of propolis is attributed to its phenolic compounds, which include pinocembrin and galangin. These phenolics donate hydrogen ions to free radicals, thus hindering their oxidative damage to lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. In fact, aqueous propolis extracts have been shown to display better antioxidant activity than ethanolic ones, regardless of the extraction solvent used .
The chemical composition of propolis is dependent on the plant sources from which it is collected. Moreover, propolis is also rich in vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C and E) and minerals such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), sodium (Na), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe).
Furthermore, propolis is rich in polyphenols with potent anti-inflammatory effects. It has been shown that aqueous propolis extracts have the ability to reduce IL-1b, TNF-a and iNOS expression in human macrophage cells. It can also decrease the levels of inflammatory markers such as MDA and elevate superoxide dismutase in vivo.
Studies have shown that propolis exerts anxiolytic-like properties through the inhibition of hyperfunctioning HPA axis and stimulation of antioxidation processes in the nervous system in stressed mice. Furthermore, it can increase locomotion in the open field test and decrease grooming behavior in a rat model of anxiety.
Propolis may induce side-effects in some individuals, especially in those with preexisting medical conditions or who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor before taking this supplement. In addition, it is advised to avoid consuming propolis in excessive quantities or for extended periods of time. Side-effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, itching and fatigue.
Propolis is a bee product that contains various nutrients, such as vitamins (B1, B2, and C), minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, zinc, and iron), and phytochemicals (phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and terpenes). It also has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiulcer, and anticancer properties.
The anti-inflammatory activity of propolis is due to its flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and terpenes. In addition, it has been shown that the peptides in propolis inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines and enhance the synthesis of collagen .
Studies have reported that propolis can stimulate cell growth and increase the rate of wound closure. It can also reduce the occurrence of infections and accelerate re-epithelialization. Furthermore, studies have shown that propolis can inhibit the development of herpes virus. Propolis also works as an antiviral agent and can prevent viral reactivation in humans .
A recent study found that the extract of propolis from Turkey showed a strong antimicrobial activity against oral microorganisms, including S. mutans, S. sanguineus, Candida albicans, and Lactobacillus casei. In addition, the extract exhibited a high level of biofilm degradation. The researchers concluded that the antimicrobial properties of propolis are related to its chemical composition and can vary among different types.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, propolis also has cytotoxic effects against human leukemia cells. This effect may be attributed to the presence of phenolic acids, such as coumaric acid and cinnamic acid. In addition, propolis can also suppress cancer cell proliferation by triggering the endoplasmic reticulum stress, apoptosis, and caspase activation. Moreover, it can also decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in macrophages. In addition, chrosin, an active component of propolis, can inhibit the activation of mast cells and enhance skin wound healing.
A number of in vitro and in vivo studies have confirmed the anticancer properties of propolis. Among these, the most significant are its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells and to inhibit cell proliferation. In particular, CAPE and apigenin are believed to be responsible for the apoptotic activity of propolis. These compounds are also capable of inhibiting inflammatory mediators such as NF-kB, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX), interleukin-1b (IL1b) and prostaglandins.
The anti-tumor effects of propolis are linked to its chemopreventive properties, which may be related to its ability to promote the growth of normal human cells and to stimulate cellular immunity against tumours. Furthermore, recent in vivo studies have shown that EEP is able to suppress tumour growth and reduce methotrexate-induced hepatorenal toxicity in an Ehrlich ascites carcinoma model.
Various factors affect the antibacterial properties of propolis, including its phenolic content, flavonoid contents and the presence of dihydrochalcones, terpene esters, aliphatic acids and metals. Furthermore, the antimicrobial activity of propolis depends on the geographic origin and time of harvest of the raw materials used for production. In general, ethanolic extracts from Yeosu and Cheorwon in Korea and Brazil exhibit higher antibacterial activity than those from Yangpyeong.
The apoptotic activity of propolis is associated with its capacity to regulate integrins and inhibit cellular adhesion, suggesting that the compounds it contains could be useful in the treatment of lung cancer. Moreover, research has also suggested that the apoptotic action of propolis can be attributed to its ability to modulate Glutathione-dependent enzymes and induction of TRAIL death receptors. In addition to this, a 2010 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that Brazilian green propolis caused apoptosis in human lung cancer A549 cells by upregulating TRAIL expression.
The healing properties of propolis have been confirmed in various studies conducted both in vitro and in vivo. These studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this compound in accelerating wound repair and enhancing tissue regeneration as well as protecting against microbial infections.
Its healing abilities are attributed to the presence of flavonoids, which possess antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and immunomodulatory properties. In addition, it has been shown that propolis can promote the formation of granulation tissues and inhibits the development of necrosis in damaged tissues. It also stimulates the production of fibronectin, which plays a key role in the control of cell migration, angiogenesis, collagen biosynthesis, and tissue re-epithelialization.
Another important property of propolis is its ability to protect the cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. It does so by inhibiting the activity of enzymes that promote oxidation and by blocking the actions of free radicals. Additionally, it has been shown to increase the synthesis of nitric oxide, which is essential in oxygen transport and signaling.
Studies suggest that propolis may be useful in treating a variety of ailments, including oral and genital herpes. One study showed that applying a propolis solution to the skin helped reduce symptoms of herpes, such as cold sores and swelling.
To use propolis, dilute a small amount of pure propolis in water or buy a product that contains it as an ingredient. Before applying, be sure to patch test a small area of skin to make sure you aren’t allergic to it. Alternatively, you can add it to your mouthwash or mix it with water to rinse the mouth. It can also be added to food or drink, but it is best to avoid consuming it raw.