The Propolis Properties’ Possibilities

Unless you have been living in your bee hives for the last few years you cannot have missed the amount of attention propolis has been getting as a health supplement. I find more and more people ask me propolis. Still not as much as honey but it is getting close. A brief search on Pubmed (a science journal search tool) yields 2314 articles related to propolis, and 382 related to propolis and bees.

This is a review article from Jun 2016 covering some of the stand-out findings.

Although propolis is being touted as the new cure all there are clear areas where propolis provides a measurable effect as a treatment option. Afterall alternative medicine that has been proven to work is just medicine. Propolis is gaining a reputation in allergy, obesity, and autoimmunity but today I am going to briefly mention one aspect of its well known anti-viral properties (I have provided a table at the end of this blog with a list of published antiviral effects along with the links to the articles).

Significant progress has been made is in describing propolis’ affect on Herpes simplex virus-1 (cold sores) and herpes simplex virus-2 (genital herpes). Bee products have been used medicinally for millenia but the first published account I found mentioning propolis used specifically in this way was published in 1978 by F.K. Feiks to the Third International symposium on Apitherapy. Since then there have been a number of small multicenter studies comparing the use of propolis ointment at 3-5% to acyclovir (a well known antiviral) and placebo. Consistently, propolis has shown a therapeutic effect over the placebo and has outperformed acyclovir in healing time. Even studies using propolis directly against the virus under laboratory conditions have shown propolis to have “a pronounced virucidal effect against herpes simplex viruses type 1 and type 2, and also interfered with virus adsorption”.

My wife is a cold sore sufferer so when she came to me and asked where the acyclovir was I put on my lab coat and safety specs (figuratively speaking) and made for the kitchen. Two hours later she was presented  with 21x 10mL pots of cold sore treatment. Perhaps this was overkill but then I had no idea how big the cold sore she was expecting would be.


WARNING: Those with asthma and those allergic to bee products should NOT use propolis.

All of the ingredients I used have either been empirically shown to improve cold sore recovery time or have a large amount of anecdotal support. Most of the ingredients are functional in providing the right consistency for the salve/balm so any extra added effects are a bonus. Propolis has a number of components and depending whether you extract in water, oil, or alcohol you get something different.

Cold-sore Salve:
I make this in a bain-marie style affair, though in actual fact I use an old pasta sauce jar in a saucepan of water. It is important to note for this one that you will almost certainly have to throw the container away after use. A second jar (or classier container) is required to filter into.
10 g Propolis
100 mL Olive oil
50 g cocunut oil
15 g beeswax
20 drop of tea tree oil
Add propolis to oilve oil in your first container (the one that will be thrown away). Heat gently in water for ~1-2 hours stirring with a lolly stick (popsicle) or bamboo skewer. There will still be a LOT of undissolved resin in the bottom at the end, this is normal. The oil however will be darker. This should be filtered whilst still warm threw a piece of cheesecloth or even old net curtain into your second container. In the second container add the beeswax and coconut oil and continue to heat until both are melted. Once melted stir gently and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 mins before adding the teatree oil and stirring. This can now be poured into containers. This did 21X 10 mL containers for me.

If you really don’t want to throw you away the clump of proplois in that first container then you can dissolve in alcohol and use it as a shellac style finish for your hives.

Antiviral activity of propolis and its chemical constituents.

Table taken from: Propolis: A Complex Natural Product with a Plethora of Biological Activities That Can Be Explored for Drug DevelopmentRicardo Silva-Carvalho et al

Origin Propolis type/plant source Type of extract/isolated compound(s) Species/cells/viruses Effect References

Purchased: Sigma Aldrich Co. Characteristic of European type propolis Caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, benzoic acid, galangin, pinocembrin, and chrysin RC-37 cells, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strain KOS High anti-HSV-1 activity for both extracts when cells were treated prior to viral infection [123]
Czech Republic European propolis/Populus nigra PEE and PWE RC-37 cells, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) High antiherpetic activity for both extracts when viruses were pretreated prior to infection [196]

Brazil Brown propolis/B. dracunculifolia HPE HSV-2 strain propagated in Vero cells, female BALB/c mice Effective against HSV-2 infection and in reducing extravaginal lesions by acting on inflammatory and oxidative processes; reducing reactive species, tyrosine nitration, ascorbic acid levels, and myeloperoxidase activity and protecting against inhibition of catalase activity [124]
Characteristic of Brazilian propolis Isopentyl ferulate (isolated from an PEE) Influenza viruses A/PR/8/34 (H1N1), A/Krasnodar/101/59 (H2N2), and A/Hong Kong/1/68 (H3N2) Suppression of influenza virus A/Hong Kong reproduction in vitro [121]
Green propolis/B. dracunculifolia, B. erioclada, Myrceugenia euosma PEE Influenza A/PR/8/34 (H1N1) virus propagated Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, female DBA/2 Cr mice Reduction of body weight loss of infected mice and virus yields in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of lungs [122]

France European propolis/Populus nigra PEE RC-37 cells, HSV-1 strain H29S, acyclovir resistant mutant HSV1-R strain H29R, HSV-2, adenovirus type 2, poliovirus type 2, and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) Reduction of titre of herpes virus, being vesicular stomatitis virus and adenovirus less susceptible; virucidal action on the enveloped viruses HSV and VSV [120]

Brazil Geopropolis from the stingless beeScaptotrigona postica Hydromethanolic extract African green monkey kidney cells (ATCC CCL-81); herpes simplex virus strain (McIntyre) Inhibition of HSV replication and entry into cells [125]

Synthesized Characteristic of Brazilian red and green propolis Homoisoflavonoids, specially 3-benzyl-4-chromones BGM (Buffalo Green Monkey) cells, coxsackie viruses B3, B4, and A9 and echovirus 30 Good antiviral activity against the coxsackie viruses B3, B4, and A9 and echovirus 30 [126]

Canada European propolis/P. trichocarpa and P. tremuloides PEE HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus replicated in MDBK (monolayer cultures of Madin-Darby bovine kidney) cells Impairing the ability of the virus to adsorb or to penetrate the host cells [197]

Brazil Green propolis/Baccharis dracunculifolia Water extracts Female BALB/c mice, Influenza A virus strain A/WSN/33 (H1N1) Extension of the lifetime of mice. 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid which increases mRNA levels of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing and decreases H1N1 hemagglutinin mRNA [198]
Characteristic of Brazilian green propolis 3,4-Dicaffeoylquinic acid (Isolated from Brazilian propolis)

Brazil Characteristic of Brazilian green propolis Melliferone, moronic acid, anwuweizonic acid, and betulonic acid (isolated from Brazilian propolis) H9 lymphocytes, HIV-1 Moronic acid inhibiting anti-HIV replication [129]

Israel Mediterranean propolis/Populusspp., Eucalyptusspp., andCastanea sativa PWE Jurkat, uninfected human T-cell lines, and MT2 (HTLV-1 infected human T cells) cells Inhibition of the activation of NF-κB-dependent promoter by Tax and prevention of Tax binding to IκBα and its degradation [127]
Purchased: Sigma Aldrich Co. Characteristic of European propolis CAPE

Provided by Binzhou Animal
Science and Veterinary Medicine Academy of Shandong
Nanometer propolis Flavone Kidney cells (PK-15)
Porcine parvovirus (PPV)
Britain White guinea pigs
Inhibition of PPV infecting porcine kidney- (PK-) 15 cells
Restraining of PPV copy in lung, gonad, and blood, decrease of the impact of PPV on weight of guinea pigs, and increase of hemagglutination inhibition of PPV in serum as well as improving the contents of IL-2, IL-6, and -IFN

USA and China European propolis/Populus nigra PEE Peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from blood of healthy donors, microglial cells isolated from human fetal brain tissue, HIV-1AT, HIV-1SF162 Inhibition of HIV-1 variants expression [119]
Brazil Green propolis/Baccharis dracunculifolia


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4 Responses to The Propolis Properties’ Possibilities

  1. Julie says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I hope it works!

    Last year, I read Jame Fearnley’s book Bee Propolis, Natural Healing from the Hive. Very interesting read, which you might enjoy.

    Personally, I’ve found propolis wonderful for oral health. I used to suffer from wicked canker sores about 3 weeks out of every month. After I found out that sodium laureth sulfate was a common irritant that contributed to canker sores, I stopped using any kind of oral hygiene product with SLS. Still had canker sores about 1 week out of every month, though. After I started keeping bees, I switched to an SLS-free toothpaste with propolis. Problem solved.

    • deweysanchez says:

      Hi Julie. had a similar problem and have to use bicarbonate of soda toothpaste to avoid them. My wife said that it didn’t take the tingle away but worked about 2 days faster than the acyclovir.

  2. Emily Scott says:

    It was very sweet of you to make the salve for your wife. She now has enough for a lifetime of cold sores! I am a bit haunted by an article I read written by a beekeeper who used to swallow a homemade propolis tincture every day. Unfortunately he developed a nasty allergy to it and had to give up beekeeping as a result. Allergies can change over time with exposure to bee products so it is a bit unpredictable. Probably a rare case though.

  3. Thanks for the helpful information! Be well….!

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