Propolis: a natural protector against bacteria, viruses and fungi

The main function of propolis is to protect against external aggressors, bacteria, viruses and fungi, and to disinfect the hive. Some of the properties are: it is antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and increases immunity.

It was known by all ancient civilizations as an antiseptic substance. The Egyptians used it for mummification and the Arabs mentioned it in their treatises on medicine.

Propolis is a mixture of waxy-resinous substances that bees collect from the buds of trees. Bees transport the propolis to the hive to be processed.

What is interesting is the quality when buying propolis. The degree of polyphenols is relied upon, such as the type of propolis form the birch has 65% flavonoids, while the poplar propolis has only 15%.

For the highest purity of the propolis, the maximum amount of inert wax, pollen or useless substances must be removed.

The manufacturing process is also important. Traditional propolis is not soluble in water.

This means that it has low absorption. Currently, techniques are being sought for making polyphenols more soluble in aqueous media and increase its solubility, bioavailability and absorption.


The amount and chemical composition of propolis varies depending on the kind of bees, the time it is harvested, its botanical origin and temperature.

However, an average chemical composition can be established:

50-60% resins and balsams: terpenes, gums, and essential fatty acids.

30-40% waxes: consisting of fatty acids, oxygen acids, and lactones.

5-10% essential oils and aromatic acids.

5% pollen

5% organic substances: minerals, wood, water and more.

More than 180 compounds have been isolated from propolis. The most studied components are polyphenols and flavonoids, phenolic acids and esters, terpene compounds, sesquiterpenes, essential oils and vitamins.

The most well known polyphenols and flavonoids are chrysin, galangin and quercetin. Other substances that have been isolated in propolis are coumarin, benzoic acid, and caffeic and trace elements.

Therapeutic properties

Bacteriostatic and bactericidal: without a doubt, propolis is a great natural antibiotic against Gram-positive bacteria. Its spectrum is not as extensive as an antimicrobial.

It is combined with some antibiotics such as tetracycline, penicillin and neomycin to enhance their antibiotic effects.

Anti-fungal, antioxidant and preservative. An immunostimulant, vasoprotector, anaesthetic and healing agent.

Antiviral: propolis is active against herpes simplex, influenza and respiratory viruses of different strains.

Therapeutic uses of propolis

Mouth. Propolis prevents the formation of plaque bacteria, bad breath and is also effective against gingivitis, glossitis, ulcerative stomatitis, cold sores, pain and infections of the teeth after extraction, abscesses and periodontitis.

Otorhinolaryngology: Propolis is useful and effective against a sore throat, pain in the ear, sinusitis, bronchitis, and a dry cough.

Skin: Propolis is used in chilblains, boils, abscesses, blotches, cracks, burns and sores, areas with discharge, varicose ulcers, slow and difficult scarring, calluses, warts keloid scars, psoriasis, fungal infections and herpes zoster (shingles).

Stomach: Propolis is used to treat gastric ulcers caused by the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori, inflammation of the stomach or gastritis and colitis.

Gynaecology: Propolis extract is used to make a bath in cases of fungi or fungal infection of the genital tract. It can also be used as a preventative. It is effective against infections or inflammations of the kidneys and bladder.

Cardiovascular: The alcohol extract of 30% propolis, 40 drops 3 times a day one hour before meals, is used to treat high blood pressure, and improve side effects of hypertension such as headaches, dizziness or ringing in the ears. Propolis lowers cholesterol and the level of uric acid in the blood.

Parasitology: Propolis is used to treat lice and scabies.

Eyes: Propolis gives optimal results against inflammation of the eyes.

Propolis can be found in the form of sweets, mouthwash, spray, toothpaste, syrups, soap solutions, ointments, etc.

Allergies to propolis

Some allergies to propolis come from its caffeic derivatives. Nowadays, you can get pure propolis by removing the pollen, inert wax and other impurities from the raw propolis that could cause intolerances and even allergies.

At recommended doses, propolis is not toxic, it is well tolerated, has no side effects, and it can be taken from two years of age and upwards, it can be combined with other treatments without any incompatibility.

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

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