Other Name(s):

Acide de Cire d'Abeille, Baume de Propolis, Bee Glue, Bee Propolis, Beeswax Acid, Cire d'Abeille Synthétique, Cire de Propolis, Colle d'Abeille, Hive Dross, Pénicilline Russe, Propóleos, Propolis Balsam, Propolis Cera, Propolis d'Abeille, Propolis Resin, Propolis Wax, Résine de Propolis, Russian Penicillin, Synthetic Beeswax.


Propolis is a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. Propolis is rarely available in its pure form. It is usually obtained from beehives and contains bee products.

Propolis has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to 350 B.C., the time of Aristotle. Greeks have used propolis for abscesses; Assyrians have used it for healing wounds and tumors; and Egyptians have used it for mummification. It still has many medicinal uses today, although its effectiveness has only been shown for a couple of them.

Propolis is used for canker sores and infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis), by viruses (including flu, H1N1 "swine" flu, and the common cold), by fungus, and by single-celled organisms called protozoans. Propolis is also used for cancer of the nose and throat; for boosting the immune system; and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease. Propolis is also used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

People sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing, genital herpes and cold sores; as a mouth rinse for speeding healing following oral surgery; and for the treatment of minor burns.

In manufacturing, propolis is used as an ingredient in cosmetics.

How does it work?

Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Cold sores. Applying a specific 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) might help improve healing time and reduce pain from cold sores.
  • Genital herpes. Applying a 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) might improve healing of recurrent genital lesions caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Some research suggests that it might heal lesions faster and more completely than the conventional treatment 5% acyclovir ointment.
  • Mouth surgery. Using a propolis mouth rinse appears to improve healing and reduce pain and swelling after mouth surgery.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Canker sores. Early research shows that taking propolis by mouth daily reduces canker sore outbreaks.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. Early research suggests that taking 60 drops of a preparation containing Brazilian green propolis daily for 7 days does not reduce H. pylori infection.
  • A type of intestinal infection called giardiasis. Early research suggests that taking a specific 30% propolis extract (Propolisina) can cure giardiasis in more people than the drug tinidazole.
  • Minor burns. Applying propolis to the skin might help treat minor burns and prevent infections.
  • Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis). Early research suggests that using Brazilian green propolis extract four times daily for 7 days can prevent oral thrush in people with dentures.
  • Upper respiratory tract infections. There is some evidence that propolis might help prevent or reduce the duration of common colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Vaginal swelling (vaginitis). Early research suggests that applying a 5% propolis solution vaginally for 7 days can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in people with vaginal swelling.
  • Cancer sores.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Infections.
  • Nose and throat cancer.
  • Improving immune response.
  • Ulcers.
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders.
  • Wounds.
  • Inflammation.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate propolis for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


Condoms are the best protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). See Answer

Side Effects

Propolis is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately. It can cause allergic reactions, particularly in people who are allergic to bees or bee products. Lozenges containing propolis can cause irritation and mouth ulcers.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking propolis if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Asthma: Some experts believe certain chemicals in propolis may make asthma worse. Avoid using propolis if you have asthma.

Bleeding conditions: A certain chemical in propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Allergies: Do not use propolis if you are allergic to bee by-products including honey, conifers, poplars, Peru balsam, and salicylates.

Surgery: A certain chemical in propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking propolis 2 weeks before surgery.


Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Propolis might slow blood clotting and increase bleeding time. Taking propolis along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For cold sores: A 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) applied 5 times daily.
  • For herpes outbreak: A 3% propolis ointment (Herstat or ColdSore-FX) applied to the blisters 4 times daily.
  • As a mouth rinse after mouth surgery: A solution containing propolis, water, and alcohol.


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Coelho, L. G., Bastos, E. M., Resende, C. C., Paula e Silva CM, Sanches, B. S., de Castro, F. J., Moretzsohn, L. D., Vieira, W. L., and Trindade, O. R. Brazilian green propolis on Helicobacter pylori infection. a pilot clinical study. Helicobacter. 2007;12(5):572-574. View abstract.

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Garrido, Fernandez S., Lasa, Luaces E., Echechipia, Modaz S., Arroabarren, Aleman E., Anda, Apinaniz M., and Tabar Purroy, A. I. Allergic contact stomatitis due to therapeutic propolis. Contact Dermatitis 2004;50(5):321. View abstract.

Gebaraa, E. C., Pustiglioni, A. N., de Lima, L. A., and Mayer, M. P. Propolis extract as an adjuvant to periodontal treatment. Oral Health Prev.Dent. 2003;1(1):29-35. View abstract.

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Hirota, M., Matsuno, T., Fujiwara, T., and et al. Enhanced cytotoxicity in a Z-photoisomer of a benzopyran derivative of propolis. J Nat.Prod. 2000;63(3):366-370. View abstract.

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Jasprica, I., Mornar, A., Debeljak, Z., Smolcic-Bubalo, A., Medic-Saric, M., Mayer, L., Romic, Z., Bucan, K., Balog, T., Sobocanec, S., and Sverko, V. In vivo study of propolis supplementation effects on antioxidative status and red blood cells. J Ethnopharmacol 4-4-2007;110(3):548-554. View abstract.

Jesus, L. M., Abreu, P. R., Almeida, M. C., Brito, L. C., Soares, S. F., de Souza, D. E., Bernardo, L. C., Fonseca, A. S., and Bernardo-Filho, M. A propolis extract and the labeling of blood constituents with technetium-99m. Acta Biol Hung 2006;57(2):191-200. View abstract.

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Paulino, N., Teixeira, C., Martins, R., Scremin, A., Dirsch, V. M., Vollmar, A. M., Abreu, S. R., de Castro, S. L., and Marcucci, M. C. Evaluation of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of a Brazilian green propolis. Planta Med 2006;72(10):899-906. View abstract.

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Pisco, L., Kordian, M., Peseke, K., Feist, H., Michalik, D., Estrada, E., Carvalho, J., Hamilton, G., Rando, D., and Quincoces, J. Synthesis of compounds with antiproliferative activity as analogues of prenylated natural products existing in Brazilian propolis. Eur J Med Chem 2006;41(3):401-407. View abstract.

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Raton, J. A., Aguirre, A., and Diaz-Perez, J. L. Contact dermatitis from propolis. Contact Dermatitis 1990;22(3):183-184. View abstract.

Rudzki, E., Grzywa, Z., and Pomorski, Z. New data on dermatitis from propolis. Contact Dermatitis 1985;13(3):198-199. View abstract.

Russo, A., Cardile, V., Sanchez, F., Troncoso, N., Vanella, A., and Garbarino, J. A. Chilean propolis: antioxidant activity and antiproliferative action in human tumor cell lines. Life Sci. 12-17-2004;76(5):545-558. View abstract.

Russo, A., Troncoso, N., Sanchez, F., Garbarino, J. A., and Vanella, A. Propolis protects human spermatozoa from DNA damage caused by benzo[a]pyrene and exogenous reactive oxygen species. Life Sci 2-23-2006;78(13):1401-1406. View abstract.

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