Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

Products of Beekeeping

Not Just Honey!

When you think of Bees, you think of honey, right?  Did you know bees produce a variety of beneficial products other than honey.  Read on for more information on these products.

     Propolis, sometimes known as bee glue is a thick, sticky resin that bees collect from tree buds and use to cement holes in the hive and defend it against invading parasites and
diseases.  Traditional healers from South America, China, Japan, and Eastern Europe have valued propolis as a remedy for such ailments as gum problems and dental health, skin issues and oral sores, as well as viruses and the common cold. ¹


What is Propolis used for?


Propolis displays strong antimicrobial activity and has been used as a chemotherapeutic agent since ancient times. It was used in folk medicine as early as 300 BC for medical and cosmetic purposes, and as an anti-inflammatory drug and wound-healing agent. More recently, it has been reported to possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Propolis has shown local anesthetic, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, and hypotensive properties. It also shows tumor-inhibiting properties in laboratory tests. Proponents of the use of propolis suggest that it stimulates the immune system, thereby raising the body's natural resistance to infection. It has been advocated for both internal and external use.


     In laboratory tests, studies have shown broad spectrum antimicrobial activity of various propolis extracts, although activity was highest in gram-positive bacteria and yeasts. Synergism with certain antibiotics has been demonstrated.

     In human clinical studies, propolis has been investigated for its activity against Helicobacter pylori, chronic vaginitis, genital herpes, and periodontal and respiratory tract infections. A clear therapeutic role for propolis is difficult to validate because of variations in antimicrobial action, which are dependent on geographical origin and extraction methods employed.


     Animal studies show propolis to have anti-inflammatory effects. A clinical study of the effect of propolis in patients with asthma demonstrated a reduction in the frequency of asthma attacks, and an increase in breathing function.

Other uses

     Propolis extracts have been investigated for their antioxidant properties. Study results have been inconsistent. The antioxidant activity of propolis is one of the rationales for its proposed antitumor and liver protective activity. Clinical studies on the antitumor and liver-protective activities of propolis are lacking. Animal studies show some immunostimulatory and modulatory effects.

Miscellaneous uses

     Propolis is used as a mouthwash, toothpaste, and throat lozenge because of its purported antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities.  In a small clinical study, propolis mixed with mulberry leaf decreased blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

What is the dosage of Propolis?

     There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for propolis.

Is Propolis safe?

Contraindications have not yet been identified.


     Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


     None well documented.

Side Effects

     Allergic reactions with skin and mucous membrane irritations have been reported. Sensitization to propolis also has been reported.


     Information regarding toxicology is lacking.²



     1. Edited from Solutions, a publication by the College of Agricultural, Food and Natural Resource Sciences.  ©2004-2007 Regents of the University of Minnesota.  All rights reserved.

     2. Propolis. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2006. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 19, 2007.

Copyright © 2006 Wolters Kluwer Health



Page Last Updated: 10 years ago
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close