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What is it?

Propolis is a resin-like material made by bees from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. Bees use it to build hives, and it may contain beehive byproducts.

Propolis seems to help fight against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal. Propolis is rarely available in its pure form. It's usually obtained from beehives.

People commonly use propolis for diabetes, cold sores, and swelling and sores inside the mouth. It's also used for burns, canker sores, genital herpes, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. There is also no good evidence to support using propolis for COVID-19.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PROPOLIS are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Diabetes. Taking propolis by mouth seems to improve blood sugar control by a small amount in people with diabetes. But it doesn't seem to affect insulin levels or improve insulin resistance.
  • Cold sores (herpes labialis). Applying an ointment or cream containing 0.5% to 3% propolis five times daily might help cold sores to heal faster and reduce pain.
  • Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Taking propolis by mouth or rinsing the mouth with a propolis mouth rinse helps heal sores caused by cancer drugs.
There is interest in using propolis for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: Propolis is possibly safe when used appropriately. It can cause allergic reactions, especially in people who are allergic to other bee products. Lozenges containing propolis can cause irritation and mouth ulcers.

When applied to the skin: Propolis is possibly safe when used appropriately. It can cause allergic reactions, especially in people who are allergic to other bee products.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy: There isn't enough reliable information to know if propolis is safe to use when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Breast-feeding: Propolis is possibly safe when taken by mouth while breastfeeding. Doses of 300 mg daily for up to 10 months have been used safely. Stay on the safe side and avoid higher doses when breast-feeding.

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: Some propolis products might be contaminated with bee byproducts. Use propolis with caution if you are allergic to bee byproducts.

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.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Propolis might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Propolis might slow blood clotting. Taking propolis along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Warfarin (Coumadin)
Warfarin is used to slow blood clotting. Propolis might decrease the effects of warfarin. This might increase the risk of clotting.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Propolis might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include garlic, ginger, ginkgo, nattokinase, and Panax ginseng.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

How is it typically used?

Propolis has most often been used by adults in doses of 400-500 mg by mouth daily for up to 13 months. It's also used in many types of products, including creams, ointments, gels, and mouth rinses. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Other names

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


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 06/09/2023