Propolis: Nature’s Antibiotic for Optimal Health and Wellness

You are currently viewing Propolis: Nature’s Antibiotic for Optimal Health and Wellness

Last updated on May 12th, 2023 at 11:45 am

Observing nature has taught humans a great deal, covering a wide range of areas from agriculture and adaptation to communication and design. This learning process has been ongoing since the earliest humans walked the planet, with our ancestors being particularly adept at observing their environment. The knowledge gained from these observations has formed the bedrock of our civilization which keeps building upon the gifts of nature.

One particularly valuable gift that nature has given us is the understanding of how to use natural substances to promote wellness and healing. As the famous quote of Paracelsus goes “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.”, traditional healing practices have utilized herbs, plants, and other botanicals for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. The development of modern medicine can be traced directly back to these natural remedies, which are still commonly used in alternative medicine as primary treatments for a range of health conditions. In traditional medicine, propolis was used for its various health benefits by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

What is Propolis?

Propolis is a glue-like substance produced by honey bees by mixing tree buds, sap flows, bee wax, and saliva. Honeybees collect saps and other liquids from plants and after mixing them with their saliva they carry them in corbiculae which are also known as pollen baskets. Propolis is used as a sealant by the bees to close and fill in the gaps of up to 6 millimeters in their hives. It helps maintain an aseptic environment and changes consistency according to the temperature where it becomes malleable when hot while it remains brittle and hard when cold.

Propolis is made of resin, beeswax, essential oils, and many other organic compounds. As it is a mix of tree buds, sap flows, and pollen it contains terpenes, beta-steroids, polyphenols, and flavonoids such as Rutin, luteolin, and Quercetin among other organic compounds, which are known to have several health benefits. Along with these compounds, propolis also contains several micro and macronutrients including Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and Lysine along with zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron. These nutrients make propolis a potent anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-oxidant, and immunomodulator which can be used in the treatment or prevention of several health issues.

Propolis is used for these beneficial properties not just in modern times rather it had been used for millennia by many ancient cultures including the Roman, Greek, and Egyptian, where it was used in the form of tincture as a drink, as a lotion and even used to embalm mummies to make them last longer. Modern research on propolis started in the 20th century and was continued more extensively post world war 2.
Commercially, propolis is used to make supplements, nasal sprays, and cosmetic products. The demand for propolis is supposed to increase at a rate of more than 2% every year while it has a market value of USD 636.6 million as of 2021.

What is propolis good for?

Propolis has been shown to have several health benefits due to its several beneficial properties that include anti-fungal, anti-biotic, anti-allergic, and antioxidant properties. Researchers have found more than 500 compounds in propolis, depending on their geographical origin and hundreds of those compounds are documented to have health benefits which include:

Propolis for Skin & Wound Healing

Propolis prevents oxidation kills bacteria and increases oxygen intake in the affected wound site as it contains compounds that are known as anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.
One of the major issues in chronic wound healing is the elimination of biofilm which the bacterial colony forms after infecting a wound which prevents anti-biotics from neutralizing bacterial growth. In some studies, propolis has been shown to stop the biofilm formation in wounds and also help the skin to regenerate new cells. This is further supported by animal models where propolis increased wound healing in diabetic mice.
Propolis is being studied for its healing effects on burn victims and early research shows that it is helpful in the generation and recovery of skin affected by burns.


Terpenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols present in propolis prevent viruses from entering and replicating in the body by inhibiting viral protein synthesis which helps in the prevention and treatment of viral infections like herpes, HIV, and influenza viruses.

Propolis is also an immunomodulator that can further help in the prevention and treatment of viral infections. It increases the production of cytokines to enhance the body’s immune response to counter viral infections by activating T cells and natural killer cells.
Additionally, propolis is an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substance that may be used to prevent cell damage and inflammation caused by viral infections.

Dental Health

Propolis prevents tooth decay and inhibits the growth of those bacteria which cause gum disease by reducing the bacteria population in the mouth either by directly acting on bacteria as it is an anti-bacterial or by strengthening the immune response of the body against oral bacterial infections.

In a recent review of 19 research papers, it was determined that propolis helped in the reduction of plaque buildup on both gums and teeth, reduced bacterial colonies, stopped bacteria growth, and promoted overall better oral health.

Propolis also helps in wound healing by preventing cell damage in the gums as it has anti-oxidants also it might help in mild dental pain which is useful for those who suffer from loose or misaligned teeth.

Propolis for chronic conditions


A diet with propolis supplement might help in the overall reduction of A1C levels. Compounds such as flavonoids, terpenoids, and phenols have been shown to be hypoglycemic which may help those who suffer from insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Neurodegenerative diseases

chronic oxidative stress is known to affect and cause cell death in the human brain. Oxidative stress may also lead to several other health issues including insulin resistance which is linked to neuronal damage and cause neuroinflammation.

In one study on the effects of pinocembrin which is one of the constituents of propolis, researchers observed that pinocembrin supplementation in diabetic mice resulted in the prevention of inflammation which lead to less cell damage and better neuron function.

Propolis promotes the production of glutathione in the body which helps the body in neutralizing free radicals. This property of propolis makes it a secondary treatment option in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cardiovascular Disease

Several pieces of research indicate that oxidative stress along with chronic inflammation and a weakened immune system may lead to atherosclerosis, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and even heart failure.

Propolis is being tested for its efficacy in controlling cardiovascular diseases(CVDs). By controlling the production of low-density lipid proteins propolis helps in the prevention of diseases like atherosclerosis. Multiple studies have shown that a diet rich in flavonoids may help in the prevention and treatment of several heart conditions by promoting cardioprotective activities.

However, it is important to know that the benefits of propolis are not yet fully understood and need more research and large-scale trials for propolis supplements for it to be considered a stand-alone treatment method for any disease.


As a natural product propolis is produced by honeybees and generally taken from beehives. Once propolis is removed from the hive, depending on the geographical location it may look like red, green, or brown sticky chunks of dust. These chunks of propolis then can be sold directly to consumers or purified further for packaging to make:

  • Capsules
  • Powder
  • Tincture
  • Cream

To make these products manufacturers need to first make-

What is a Propolis extract?

It is made by removing the excess resin and wax from the natural propolis collected from the beehives. To remove the excess material a solvent like water or ethanol is used which extracts the active compounds of propolis. This extract can be freeze-dried to make propolis powder that can be used to make propolis products.


Propolis and its effects are being researched and as of now, there is no generally recommended dose of propolis.

However, through several studies and research on animal models for its toxicity, we may deduce that taking 70 mg of propolis every day is safe for its general health benefits. If you want to take propolis to treat a certain health condition you may do so after consulting a doctor or a qualified nutritionist.

Propolis Side-effects

Although not many side effects of propolis are known due to the absence of large-scale studies on its effects, long exposure to propolis may cause allergic reactions, especially in beekeepers and those individuals who are allergic to the caffeate group of compounds.
Propolis may also an allergic reaction in those individuals who are allergic to pollens which can lead to skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues, and mild body pain.
Some medications like blood thinners may interact with propolis and increase the risk of bleeding.


Propolis is produced by honeybees by mixing tree buds, sap flows, beeswax, and saliva, and has been used for millennia by various ancient cultures for its health benefits. Propolis contains terpenes, beta-steroids, polyphenols, flavonoids, and micro and macronutrients, making it a potent anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-oxidant, and immunomodulator. Propolis has various health benefits, including wound healing, anti-viral properties, and dental health, and may be helpful in chronic conditions such as diabetes. Propolis is used to make supplements, nasal sprays, and cosmetic products, and its market value is estimated to be over USD 636.6 million as of 2021.