Propolis is the name given to the resins collected by bees to make a mixture, which will later serve to protect the hives and seal holes. Propolis is a resinous and rubbery substance, dark in color and strong in flavor, with notes of wood.The word propolis comes from the Greek term propolis , which means “protector of the city.” For centuries, it has been known that this substance was used by bees as a defense against infections and invading insects. It is made up of the sap that honey bees collect from coniferous and poplar forests and other trees.In addition, propolis contains wax produced by bees, pollen, saliva, essential oils and other elements that when combined form this substance, which can be in solid, semi-solid or liquid form depending on the temperature and the degree of wax and impurities it contains.

What is propolis for?

The most recognized use of propolis is as a natural remedy against infections , whether in wounds or those that cause diseases. It is also useful to reduce discomfort in respiratory diseases, skin infections, genitals, in the mouth and in the stomach. It should be noted that its effectiveness has only been demonstrated in a few conditions.

The benefits attributed to it are sometimes popular myths . Currently, propolis is marketed in different presentations. The most common are: syrup, dragees or powder and candy bars. There are also tinctures and preparations with propolis, ointments and skin products.

It serves to:

  • Participate in medicinal remedies
  • Treat infections, injuries and wounds
  • Fight respiratory diseases
  • Fight genital diseases and yeast infections
  • Treat cancer, tumors, and chronic diseases

Participate in medicinal remedies

Propolis has been used for centuries by humanity for different purposes; among them, for the healing and disinfection of wounds and the treatment of different diseases. Its popularity has increased thanks to new discoveries about its benefits, and the constant use that alternative medicines have given it.

It has fungicidal and antiseptic properties , as its components include flavonoids , which are secondary metabolites of plants with coloring and medicinal properties.

The most recognized qualities of flavonoids are as antioxidants and antimicrobials. Therefore, propolis is useful against infections and, to a lesser extent, against some diseases.

In general, propolis is used to:

  • Disinfectant effects
  • Antimicrobial effects
  • Fungicidal effects
  • Antioxidant effects
  • Improve the immune system
  • Protect ourselves against free radicals
  • Treat genital herpes
  • Treat cold sores
  • Treat mouth wounds
  • Treat vaginal infections
  • Treat genital infections
  • Treat oral infections
  • Treat wounds
  • Treat skin lesions
  • Treat skin infections
  • Treat burns
  • Reduce the discomfort of the flu
  • Protect the airways
  • Protect the liver
  • Protect the intestines
  • Reduce injuries and canker sores
  • Decrease cancerous lesions and wounds
  • Decrease oropharyngeal candidiasis
  • Improve the appearance of the skin
  • Add to medicinal candies
  • Add to medicinal syrups
  • As an ingredient in therapeutic ointments
  • As an ingredient in medicinal lozenges
  • Making healing propolis tinctures
  • As an ingredient in cosmetics
  • As an ingredient in alternative medications

Propolis is linked to the treatment of multiple conditions.

Treat infections, injuries and wounds

Ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, and Assyrians already used propolis to treat fungal infections , protect and heal wounds and skin infections, and to preserve corpses . In the case of the Egyptians, propolis was essential during the embalming of their dead , preventing fungi from corrupting them.

Currently, propolis continues to be popular as a disinfectant and fungicide, as its antimicrobial properties help prevent the proliferation of parasites and fungi. This benefit is used by bees to defend the honeycomb against bacteria and fungi.

Propolis is usually applied directly to the lesions to be disinfected, either in the form of a diluted solution, an ointment or as a tincture. It is also used in burns, but only when the doctor has previously assessed the case, because if it is serious, it can be dangerous to put substances on the damaged skin.

Fight respiratory diseases

Propolis and its derivatives have been used to help alleviate the discomfort caused by infections and diseases in the respiratory tract . It should be noted that propolis does not eliminate infections, especially those caused by viruses, but it helps reduce the discomfort caused by opportunistic infections.

Propolis has been shown to be effective against fungal infections that invade the throat, esophagus, and respiratory tract, as well as the intestines. For this, it is usually used in the form of syrup, which is taken in small amounts for several days.

Fight genital diseases and yeast infections

Propolis, due to its content of flavonoids and acids, has a great capacity to combat the reproduction of fungi. It has shown some efficacy against thrush or oral candidiasis , reducing fungal plaques and helping to prevent them from proliferating in the throat or esophagus.

To combat these infections, propolis syrup is often used, as it passes slowly through the throat, and can spread through the internal tissues more easily.

Propolis has been applied since ancient times in the male and female genital area, for the treatment of different diseases, including candidiasis and other bacterial and fungal infections that affect the genital area.

Propolis is often used in the form of a tincture, which is applied directly to the infected areas. Sometimes it is also applied internally, although few doctors advise this type of use of propolis. There are also ointments and creams that contain propolis and facilitate its application in areas that require it.

Treat cancer, tumors, and chronic diseases

Propolis has been used in some places as a medicine against cancer, tuberculosis, syphilis, and other hard-to-cure diseases. Its effectiveness on these and other diseases has not been proven or supported by any study, and yet a variety of alternative or holistic medicines use propolis in dilutions and tinctures.

Although it is true that the flavonoids and other substances in propolis are beneficial to health and help reduce free radicals and cellular aging, it is a lie that propolis cures cancer, AIDS and other diseases .

The truth is that propolis can improve conditions such as ulcers, wounds and opportunistic infections such as candidiasis, but it does not cure viruses, certain bacteria or prevent or reduce cancer , so it is not recommended to use propolis as the main medicine or to replace it with he prescribed medication.

Propolis is used by bees to protect the hive.

Contraindications of propolis

Propolis, not because it is a natural remedy, is exempt from consumer precautions. It should be administered under medical supervision or completely avoided in people such as:

  • Patients allergic to bee stings
  • Patients allergic to conifers
  • Patients allergic to trees such as poplars
  • Patients allergic to some resins
  • Patients allergic to the bites of other insects
  • Pollen allergic patients
  • Diabetic patients
  • Little girls and boys
  • Pregnant women

Propolis is manufactured by bees, so people allergic to these insects or their products should refrain from consuming it, either directly or in products to which it is added as an ingredient.

Due to its sugar content, it is not advisable for people with diabetes or blood glucose control problems to consume propolis. In case of ingesting it, it is better to be in small quantities and under medical supervision.

Side effects of propolis

Propolis can cause side effects, especially when there is a history of the previously mentioned allergies.

Some side effects of consuming propolis are:

  • Probabilities of botulism in girls and boys
  • Greater severity of allergic asthma
  • Some gastrointestinal disorders
  • Appearance of pimples on the skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Itchy skin sensation
  • More frequent sneezing
  • Itchy sensation in the nose

This article is informational in nature and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.

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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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