Bee Propolis Extract is a substance made by honeybees from surrounding vegetation to seal their hives against outside invaders and reduce vibrations within the hive. It is usually brown but can be any color depending on what type of vegetation the bees use. It is the equivalent of caulk.
The specific properties of propolis vary in accordance with geography, season and plant type. Generically, it is estimated the composition of propolis is 50 percent resin and vegetable balsam, 30 percent wax, 10 percent oils, 5 percent pollen and 5 percent other minerals, such as zinc and calcium. Propolis is rich in flavanoids and antioxidants.
Propolis is used as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It is used to heal open wounds and tumors. Propolis stimulates the immune system and treats herpes simplex virus types one and two, legg-calve-perthes disease, rheumatic arthritis, common colds and burns. It can be used both internally and externally, but contact with the eyes should be avoided. Propolis is sold in liquid, capsule, tablet, powder and cream form.
If you are allergic to honey, bees or bee stings you need to seek the advice of an allergist prior to taking propolis; having those allergies does not mean that you cannot take it, you must be tested first. Propolis is found naturally in honey in very small quantities. There have been no documented adverse reactions in people taking propolis and no known drug interactions have been noted.
There is research being done regarding the benefits of propolis for oral health. Used as a mouthwash or lozenge, propolis reduces inflammation of the gums and promotes healing in mouth wounds and sore throats. A study conducted by Miyazawa and Ikeno showed that rats given propolis in their water developed fewer cavities than rats that didn't drink propolis. To date, this has not been studied on humans. There is research being done by Popescu and Palos in Romania regarding the benefits of propolis in eye infection and by Scheller, Suchy and Zawadzki in Poland regarding vaginal infections. Awadallah and Ali are investigating the effects of propolis on endometriosis and infertility in a randomized controlled trial. A report published in Cancer Research concluded that propolis has the potential to treat certain forms of cancer due to acids in the propolis; this has only been proven in rats.
While there is much research being done on propolis that is still inconclusive, there are some scientific facts that have been proven. Professor Scheller who works in Poland for the Institute for Microbiology did confirm that propolis stimulates the immune system, reduces cellular deterioration and promotes tissue growth in healing, proving that propolis is nontoxic.