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Although honey is perhaps the most famous bee product of interest to human beings, bees also make propolis, another substance that humans have used for thousands of years. Bees coat the hive with propolis in much the same way we use paint and caulking on our homes. People began using propolis more than 2,300 years ago for many purposes, the foremost of which was applying it to wounds to fight infection. It is a resinous compound made primarily from tree sap, and contains biologically active compounds called flavonoids, which come from its plant source. Propolis does indeed have antiseptic properties; the flavonoids in propolis may be responsible for its antimicrobial effects as well as other alleged health benefits.
Test tube studies have found propolis to be active against a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 These findings have been the basis for most propolis research in humans and animals.
The results of a small controlled study suggests that propolis cream might cause attacks of genital herpes to heal faster. 10 A preliminary controlled study found that propolis mouthwash following oral surgery significantly speeded healing time as compared to placebo. 11 Propolis extracts may also have value in treatment of severe periodontal disease , according to a study that evaluated the use of propolis extracts as part of an irrigation procedure performed twice weekly by dentists. 12 In one study, rats given...
Propolis is an ingredient commonly consumed in small quantities in honey. Safety studies have found it to be essentially nontoxic when taken orally; propolis also appears to be nonirritating when applied to the skin. 13 However, allergic reactions to propolis are relatively common; it is a known "sensitizing agent," meaning it tends to induce allergies to itself when it is taken for an extended time. 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28