Bee propolis is a resin-like substance that bees make to coat their hives. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. When taken by mouth, it has been used to help control blood glucose. Bee propolis can also be applied to the skin as a cream or salve. It has been used to help heal wounds and ulcers. It can also be used as a mouthwash to improve oral hygiene.
There are no advised doses for bee propolis.
What Research Shows
May Be Effective
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to take use bee propolis on the skin and to take it orally in small doses for a short time, but allergic reactions are possible.G1-G3 Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with bee allergies should not use propolis.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A. Cancer Treatment Support
A1. Abdulrhman M, Elbarbary NS, et al. Honey and a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil-propolis extract in treatment of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis: a randomized controlled pilot study. Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2012 Apr;29(3):285-292. do
A2. Tomaževič T, Jazbec J. A double blind randomised placebo controlled study of propolis (bee glue) effectiveness in the treatment of severe oral mucositis in chemotherapy treated children. Complement Ther Med. 2013 Aug;21(4):306-312.
A3. AkhavanKarbassi MH, Yazdi MF, et al. Randomized Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial of Propolis for Oral Mucositis in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2016;17(7):3611-3614.
A4. Marucci L, Farneti A, et al. Double-blind randomized phase III study comparing a mixture of natural agents versus placebo in the prevention of acute mucositis during chemoradiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Head Neck. 2017 Sep;39(9):1761-1769.
A5. Piredda M, Facchinetti G, et al. Propolis in the prevention of oral mucositis in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy: A pilot randomised controlled trial. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2017;26(6):12757.
A6. Kuo CC, Wang RH, et al. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of propolis mouthwash in cancer therapy-induced oral mucositis. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(12):4001-4009.
B1. Samadi N, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, et al. Effects of bee propolis supplementation on glycemic control, lipid profile and insulin resistance indices in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. J Integr Med.2017;15(2):124-134.
C1. Giammarinaro E, Marconcini S, et al. Propolis as an adjuvant to non-surgical periodontal treatment: a clinical study with salivary anti-oxidant capacity assessment. Minerva Stomatol. 2018 Oct;67(5):183-188.
D. Mouth Sores
D1. Samet N, Laurent C, et al. The effect of bee propolis on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a pilot study. Clin Oral Investig. 2007 Jun;11(2):143-147.
D2. Rodríguez-Archilla A, Raissouni T. Randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of complementary therapies for recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Med Clin (Barc). 2017 Jul 21;149(2):55-60.
E. Oral Health
E1. Hwu YJ, Lin FY. Effectiveness of propolis on oral health: a meta-analysis. J Nurs Res. 2014 Dec;22(4):221-9. doi: 10.1097/jnr.0000000000000054. PubMed PMID: 25386865.
F. Respiratory Tract Infections
F1. Cohen HA, Varsano I, et al. Effectiveness of an herbal preparation containing echinacea, propolis, and vitamin C in preventing respiratory tract infections in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Mar;158(3):217-221.
G1. Walgrave SE, Warshaw EM, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from propolis. Dermatitis. 2005 Dec;16(4):209-215.
G2. Ventura MT, Viola M, et al. Hypersensitivity reactions to complementary and alternative medicine products. Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(26):3393-3399.
G3. Pecquet C. Allergic reactions to insect secretions. Eur J Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;23(6):767-73.
H1. Zedan H, Hofny ER, et al. Propolis as an alternative treatment for cutaneous warts. Int J Dermatol. 2009;48(11):1246-1249.
Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 9/9/2019