Health Benefits Of Bee Propolis

What are the health benefits of bee propolis?

One of the problems with alternative medicines is that while there are many claims as to their benefits, there is sometime very little real hard evidence the the various extracts and supplements actually do what they say. Questions such as "Is bee propolis good for you?" should be given serious consideration before being answered.

So I have done a little looking around at what reseach has been done into this area and what hard evidence there is of propolis health benefits. So in this article I will discuss some of the more reputable research which has been published and is available on the internet.

In Bee Propolis As A Treatment For Burns , I have already discussed a Brazilian study in which a good quality propolis cream was used in the treatment of burns. Just to recap, the study concluded that skin cream was more effective as a treatment of second degree burns than the current treatment - which is silver sulfadiazene (SSD). I would suggest that you go back and read the article for more details.

Another study in turkey (see The effect of CAPE on lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide levels in the plasma of rats following thermal injury) demonstrated that caffeic acid phenethyl ester, a compound contained in bee propolis was in fact effective in the treat of burns. This would seem to confirm the results from the Brazilian study.

And anti-inflamatory properties were confirmed in the studies Prophylactic effectiveness of propolis for immunostimulation: a clinical pilot study and Propolis and some of its constituents down-regulate DNA synthesis and inflammatory cytokine production but induce TGF-beta1 production of human immune cells. These two studies report that an enhanced immune system response was observed in participants in the study.

And lastly, studies in Japan and Bulgaria were able to confirm the anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and some anti-viral properties of bee propolis. For more information see Antioxidant activity of propolis of various geographic origins and Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity of propolis of different geographic origin.

In reading the available research, a couple of things became apparent. The substance is a complex natural mixture of compounds which together offer a range of therapeutic benefits. But despite this, it doesn't seem to contain any new or unknown compounds which can be used for further pharmaceutical development. But despite this, the research does seem to confirm a number of the purported health benefits of bee propolis.

Bee Propolis And Other Bee Products

While the main topic of this website is bee propolis , it might pay to keep in mind that it's only one of the natural products which the humble bee offers us. Apart from propolis, bees also offer us bee pollen, royal jelly and of course honey.

Bee Propolis

First a quick recap on bee propolis. This is a substance produced by the honey bee and used the seal the hive against predators and disease. It's made by collecting a sticky resinous substance collected from the buds and damaged bark of certain trees and mixing it with wax flakes, pollen and saliva.

The benefits of this natural remedy have long been suspected and its antibiotic and anti fungal properties have been used to advantage by alternative medical practitioners through the ages. And recent research appears to have confirmed some of the rumored benefits of this product.

Royal Jelly

Another product of the hive is royal jelly, a rich creamy substance made by the worker bees and used in the feeding of the larvae. While the youngsters which are destined to become worker bees receive royal jelly in combination with other food sources, it's believed that when a new queen is needed, it will be feed exclusively on royal jelly. This is believed to trigger the mechanism which causes a your bee to develop into a queen.

While many health benefits are claimed of royal jelly, very few if any have been substantiated by reliable research. It can't be disputed that this substance is high in nutrients and for that reason it is collected an sold as a dietary supplement but some of the claims of its proponents appear a little over the top. It's also used in a number of beauty products, but again most of the supposed benefits are yet to be proven.

It should also be noted that royal jelly can cause a severe reaction in some people and in extreme but rare cases has apparently been fatal.

Bee Pollen

This is another bee product used in alternative medicine and sold by some health food stores as a nutritional supplement. Because of the high levels of carbohydrate and protein, people have used it as a source of energy among things. However, none of these claims have yet been substantiated.

Another use bee pollen has been put is as a treatment for hay fever with some people believing that it will help the body build up resistance to allergies. Once again, this has not yet been proven. In fact there are concerns that it can cause severe reactions in those with pollen allergies.


Honey is must commonly used as a sweetener and commonly as a substitute for ordinary sugar. But may have other health promoting properties. Honey is thought to have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which probably explains its use as a home remedy for for sore throats and similar complaints.

Research is currently underway into using honey as a treatment for a number of medical complaints, perhaps most notably as a alternative treatment for MRSA, of which some strains are resistant to drugs.

So as you can see from the discussion above, there is much more that comes from the hive than just bee propolis.

Bee Propolis As A Treatment For Burns

Bee propolis has reportedly been used for hundreds if not thousands of years in various forms of medicine. But a much more recent study seems to indicate that bee propolis is effective in treating patients with minor burns.

There were a number of controls on the study, but the gist is that only patients with multiple burns of similar size and severity were included. This meant that for each patient, researchers could use bee propolis on one of the wounds while treating the other with silver sulfadiazene. Silver sulfadiazene is normally used as a burn cream in treating patients with second and third degree burns. SSD is kept applied to the wound until the burn has healed so as to minimize the risk of infection.

When compared with silver sulfadiazene, wounds treated with bee propolis cream showed less inflammation and healed more quickly. This led researchers to believe that this particular bee propolis cream did in fact aid the healing process for these types of burns.

You can read more about the study at Comparison of propolis skin cream to silver sulfadiazine: a naturopathic alternative to antibiotics in treatment of minor burns.

Bee Propolis Toothpaste - Red Seal, Natural Life, Bee Natural

I've read about bee propolis toothpaste a couple of times recently and was curious what the benefits are supposed to be. I haven't yet tried bee propolis in toothpaste form yet but I must admit that I wouldn't mind giving it a go.

While I haven't yet been able to find out exactly what the health benefits are (most sales pages rattle on about the general health benefits, but are very short on what the benefits of using it as a toothpaste are.

I'm guessing that the benefits stem from the reported antiviral and antibacterial properties of bee propolis. Assuming that's true, the toothpaste should help to improve your oral hygiene and prevent gum disease and other oral infections, perhaps even helping out with bad breath. For those wondering how to use bee propolis for gum disease, this may be the answer.

There seem to be plenty of manufacturers of bee propolis toothpaste. Here are a few that I came across:
  • Red Seal
  • Natural Life
  • Bee Natural
Just a warning though. If you are allergic to bees or honey, you might want to avoid using bee propolis toothpaste as it can cause severe reactions in those at risk.

Where To Buy Bee Propolis

Bee Propolis - where to buy it...

Bee propolis
is becoming more readily available these days. And with a plethora of online stores pushing the product, it's possible to buy bee propolis without leaving the comfort of your own home.

But for those not comfortable buying over the internet, a trip to your local health food store is your best bet. Your local health food supplier should be able to steer you in the right direction.

And for those that like to do their shopping online, you wont have any problems tracking down suppliers of bee propolis on the web. However, use caution in making your purchase. Make sure you buy from a reputable supplier. Beware of cheaper products as sometimes you get what you pay for if you know what I mean. I have read that occasionally disreputable sellers have been know to sell products with lower concentrations or even having been substituted altogether.

If you are unsure as to what you're getting into online, then your local health food store may be best. At least you can speak to someone about bee propolis in person. And if already have a relationship with the owner of the shop, so much the better.

The only place I've been able to find propolis toothpaste is online. I have checked the local supermarkets and health food stores but none of them seem to carry it.

What Is Bee Propolis

Bee propolis is the the sticky substance which bees use to hold the hive together. To make it , bees collect a resinous substance which is secreted by the wounds or buds of some trees, then combine it with wax and bee pollen in the hive.

Bee propolis is used by bees to seal the hive. There is some speculation as to the reason's for its use, but its purpose appears to be prevent entry to the hive of predators, bacteria and disease. The active botanical ingredients in bee propolis are believed to protect the hive and its inhabitants.

Bee propolis contains compounds which are believed to be beneficial to our health. It has been used for many centuries as a natural medicine.

Today it is used in western alternative medicines. It is marketed by many alternative health products companies and is available in many forms including:
  • bee propolis extract
  • bee propolis cream
  • bee propolis liquid
It's also distributed in lozenge form, as a throat spray and even as propolis toothpaste.

The benefits are believed to emanate from it's antibiotic and anti fungal properties. It can be used both externally and internally. It has been used to treat inflammations, burns and ulcers.

Is Bee Propolis Good For You?

There have been a number of clinical studies conducted, some with promising results. There has been difficulty in interpreting some of the results due to composition differing according to location and time of year. I will write about some of these studies in future articles on this website.

It's important to note that people who are sensitive to bee products be experience may experience a severe reaction through the use of this product.

I also read on Wikipedia that bee propolis has been used to enhance the appearance of the wood grain of some musical instruments by their makers