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Propolis (Bee Glue): Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antiviral and Antioxidant Properties


  • Propolis (Bee Glue): Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antiviral and Antioxidant Properties

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    Bee glue (PROPOLIS) has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. In modern scientific medicine, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antileishmanial, immuno-modulating, and other properties of propolis have been determined.

    Due to these properties, propolis dosage forms have been successfully used in the treatment of burn wounds, otitis media, Peyronie's disease, lung diseases, viral diseases of the genitourinary sphere.

    The word "propolis" comes from the Greek words: "pro" - before and "polis" - city.

    The name is due to the fact that wild bees living in the hollows of trees, when cold weather set in, covered up their entrance. Propolis is a substance used by bees to putty inside hives, crevices, and as a nutrient when needed.

    It is a resinous substance collected by bees from leaf surfaces, with an admixture of nectar, pollen, and processed by enzymes from the glands of workers' bees.

    Depending on the plants common in the area, propolis is distinguished in various colors - from dark green to brown. Pure, fresh propolis tastes bitter-spicy, with a tart odor.

    The chemical composition of propolis has been studied relatively well. More than 180 compounds were identified.

    Propolis is rich in plant phytoncides, it contains a lot of organic acids, terpene compounds (50 - 55% of plant resins, 8 - 10% of volatile substances, about 30% of wax, terpenic acids).

    Propolis contains resinous acids and alcohols, artipillin, phenols, tannins, balsams (cinnamic alcohol, cinnamic acid), wax, essential oils, flavonoids, amino acids, a small number of B vitamins.

    Typical constituents of propolis: acacetin, apigenin, alpha-acetoxybetulenol, kaempferide, rhamnocintrin, ermanine.

    Propolis contains more than 50 organic components and mineral elements (K, Ca, P, Na, Mg, S, Cl, Al, Va, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, Si, Sn, Se, Ag, F, Co, etc., in increased amounts - Zn and Mn), about 10 vital vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, A, E, nicotinic, pantothenic acids, etc., 17 amino acids (asparagine, glutamine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, leucine, cystine, methionine, valine, glycocol, histidine, arginine, proline, tyrosine, threonine, alanine, lysine).

    The medicinal properties of propolis have been known since ancient times. All famous healers of antiquity wrote about it - Dioscorides, Hippocrates, Avicenna, and others - [4].

    In various therapeutic forms - in the form of ointments, lozenges, tinctures, propolis is used in the treatment of stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, allergic diseases, diseases of the oral mucosa, tongue, gums, skin diseases.

    Propolis, thanks to caffeic acid, is a good anti-inflammatory agent - [15]. Vestitol and neovestitol of Brazilian propolis have a pronounced antibacterial effect, increase the rate of migration of neutrophils, have an anti-inflammatory effect - [26].

    The anti-inflammatory properties of propolis are increased when it is combined with grape polyphenols - [21].

    Experimental studies have shown that taking propolis, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, prevents the development of pneumonia under the influence of cigarette smoke in experimental mice - [46].

    Phenyl ester of caffeic acid of propolis has a therapeutic effect in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - [23;33]. Experimental studies have shown that propolis extracts prevent the development of complications from the lungs - pneumofibrosis when taking aminodarone - [34].

    Due to its antioxidant and pronounced anti-inflammatory properties, alcoholic extracts of propolis have a therapeutic effect in artificially induced acute pancreatitis - [12; 43].

    The antibacterial properties of propolis are well known - [1;22;25; 29;45]. The antibacterial properties of propolis are most pronounced in the propolis of countries with a humid tropical climate such as a tropical forest - [9; 41].

    In Brazilian propolis, the properties of a destructive effect on the tubercle bacillus have been revealed - [41].

    Antimicrobial properties of propolis increase when combined with honey and ethyl alcohol - [11]. Propolis oil extracts also have antibacterial properties - [6].

    Despite the presence of antibacterial properties, prolonged use of propolis does not lead to dysbiosis - [6]. Determined antileishmanial properties of propolis extracts - [35; 47].

    Experimental studies have shown that taking propolis prevents damage to internal organs during septic shock - [10].

    Antibacterial, immunomodulatory properties of propolis are used not only in medicine but also in veterinary medicine, for example - for the prevention of bird diseases - [39; 13].

    The propolis preparations have antiviral properties, especially against the herpes virus - [5; 16]. There are cases of effective treatment of shingles with local applications of 5% propolis solution.

    Due to its antiviral properties, propolis has been successfully used in the treatment of warts - [20], in viral infections of the genital tract in women - [37; 44]. Antiviral, against influenza virus properties of Brazilian propolis - [14;50].

    Aqueous extracts of green propolis have a detrimental effect on the influenza virus IL1 - [42]. Encouraging results have been obtained from the use of propolis in HIV infection - [2].

    Propolis has pronounced antifungal properties - [9]. Good results were obtained in the treatment of fungal infections of the female genital area with propolis extracts, comparable to clotrimazole - [19;24].

    1 and 3% propolis ointments have a pronounced anti-inflammatory. Due to these properties, propolis ointment is very effective in the treatment of post-traumatic and burn wounds - [8; 27]. Wound healing, anti-inflammatory properties of propolis ointment are comparable to those of dexamethasone - [6].

    Propolis has been successfully used in the treatment of ulcers with varicose veins - [17]. Due to its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing properties, propolis is effective in the treatment of burn wounds - [18].

    Experimental studies have shown that propolis-containing ointment is more effective in treating burn wounds than dermazin ointment - [40].

    In the form of an ointment (50%), propolis is also used in the treatment of skin tuberculosis by lubricating the affected areas.

    Propolis ointment is effective for some gynecological diseases - cervical erosion, endocervicitis, colpitis, conditions after diathermocoagulation - [49].

    Yugoslav doctors described a case of a 63-year-old patient cured with Peyronie's disease with external application of propolis with honey - [7].

    Spanish doctors have successfully applied propolis oil in the treatment of Peyronie's disease - [36].

    Good results were obtained in the treatment of this disease with a combination of drugs (verapamil, diclofenate, vitamin E) with propolis - [4; 30; 48].

    Propolis extracts have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties - [5; 3; 7].

    Propolis is applied orally (0.6-0.9 gr. X 3 times a day for 2-3 months) in the treatment of psoriasis.

    Propolis has a therapeutic effect in recurrent otitis media in infants - [28].


    1. Pavilonis A., Baranauskas A., Puidokaite L., Mazeliene Z., Savickas A., Radziunas R. [Antimicrobial activity of soft and purified propolis extracts] - Medicina (Kaunas) 2008, 44(12), 977-983.

    2. Gekker G., Hu S., Spivak M., Lokensgard J.R., Peterson P.K. Anti-HIV-1 activity of propolis in CD4-(+) lymphocyte and microglial cell cultures - J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005, Nov 14,102(2), 158-163.

    3. Nakamura R., Nakamura R., Watanabe K., Oka K., Ohta S., Mishima S., Teshima R. Effects of propolis from different areas on mast cell degranulation and identification of the effective components in propolis - Int. Immunopharmacol. 2010, Sep., 10(9), 1107-1112.

    4. Paulis G., Cavallini G., Brancato T., Alvaro R. Peironimev-Plus® in the treatment of chronic inflammation of tunica albuginea (Peyronie's disease). results of a controlled study - Inflamm. Allergy Drug. Targets. 2013, Feb., 12(1), 61-67.

    5. Naito Y., Yasumuro M., Kondou K., Ohara N. Antiinflammatory effect of topically applied propolis extract in carrageenan-induced rat hind paw edema - Phytother. Res. 2007, May, 21(5), 452-456.

    6. Barroso P.R., Lopes-Rocha R., Pereira E.M., Marinho S.A., de Miranda J.L., Lima N.L., Verli F.D. Effect of propolis on mast cells in wound healing - Inflammopharmacology 2012, Oct., 5, 289-294.

    7. Sy L.B., Yang L.K., Chiu C.J., Wu W.M. The immunoregulatory effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester on the cytokine secretion of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from asthmatic children - Pediatr. Neonatol. 2011, Dec., 52(6), 327-331.

    8. Olczyk P., Komosinska-Vassev K., Winsz-Szczotka K., Kozma E.M., Wisowski G., Stojko J., Kli-mek K., Olczyk K. Propolis modulates vitronectin, laminin, and heparan sulfate/heparin expression during experimental burn healing - J. Zhejiang. Univ. Sci. B. 2012, Nov., 13(11), 932-941.

    9. Seidel V., Peyfoon E., Watson D.G., Fearnley J. Comparative study of the antibacterial activity of propolis from different geographical and climatic zones - Phytother. Res. 2008, 22(9), 1256-1263.

    10. Korish A.A., Arafa M.M. Propolis derivatives inhibit the systemic inflammatory response and protect hepatic and neuronal cells in acute septic shock - Braz. J. Infect. Dis. 2011, Jul-Aug., 15(4), 332-338.

    11. Sartori G., Pesarico A.P., Pinton S., Dobrachinski F., Roman S.S., Pauletto F., Junior L.C., Prigol M. Protective effect of brown Brazilian propolis against acute vaginal lesions caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 in mice: involvement of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms -Cell. Biochem. Funct. 2011, Oct 24.

    12. Turkyilmaz S., Alhan E., Ercin C. , Kural Vanizor B., Kaklikkaya N., Ates B., Erdogan S., Topal-oglu S. Effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester on pancreatitis in rats - J. Surg. Res. 2008, Mar., 145 (1), 19-24.

    13. Gardjeva P.A., Dimitrova S.Z., Kostadinov I.D., Murdjeva M.A., Peyche L.P., Lukanov L.K., Stanimirova I.V., Alexandrov A.S. A study of chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of Bulgarian propolis -Folia Med. (Plovdiv). 2007, 49(3-4), 63-69.

    14. Takemura T., Urushisaki T., Fukuoka M., Hosokawa-Muto J., Hata T., Okuda Y., Hori S., Tazawa S., Araki Y., Kuwata K. 3,4-Dicaffeoylquinic Acid, a Major Constituent of Brazilian Propolis, Increa-ses TRAIL Expression and Extends the Lifetimes of Mice Infected with the Influenza A Virus - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2012, 2012, 946867.

    15. Búfalo M.C., Ferreira I., Costa G., Francisco V., Liberal J., Cruz M.T., Lopes M.C., Batista M.T., Sforcin J.M. Propolis and its constituent caffeic acid suppress LPS-stimulated pro-inflammatory response by blocking NF-kB and MAPK activation in macrophages - J. Ethnopharmacol. 2013, Aug 26, 149(1), 84-92.

    16. Schnitzler P., Neuner A., Nolkemper S., Zundel C., Nowack H., Sensch K.H., Reichling J. Antiviral activity and mode of action of propolis extracts and selected compounds - Phytother. Res. 2010, Jan., 24 Suppl 1, 20-28.

    17. Kucharzewski M., Kozka M., Urbanek T. Topical treatment of nonhealing venous leg ulcer with propolis ointment - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013, 2013, 254017.

    18. Pessolato A.G., Martins D. dos S., Ambrosio C.E., Manganares C.A., de Carvalho A.F. Propolis and amnion reepithelialise second-degree burns in rats - Burns 2011, Nov., 37(7), 1192-1201.

    19. Berretta A.A., de Castro P.A., Cavalheiro A.H., Fortes V.S., Bom V.P., Nascimento A.P., Marquele-Oliveira F., Pedrazzi V., Ramalho L.N., Goldman G.H. Evaluation of Mucoadhesive Gels with Propolis (EPP-AF) in Preclinical Treatment of Candidiasis Vulvovaginal Infection - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013, 2013, 641480.

    20. Zedan H., Hofny E.R., Ismail S.A. Propolis as an alternative treatment for cutaneous warts - Int. J. Dermatol. 2009, Nov., 48(11), 12461249.

    21. Mossalayi M.D., Rambert J., Renouf E., Micouleau M., Merillon J.M. Grape polyphenols and pro-polis mixture inhibits inflammatory mediator release from human leukocytes and reduces clinical scores in experimental arthritis - Phytomedicine 2013, Sep 19.

    22. Bueno-Silva B., Alencar S.M., Koo H., Ikegaki M., Silva G.V., Napimoga M.H., Rosalen P.L. Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial evaluation of neovestitol and vestitol isolated from Brazilian red propolis -J. Agric. Food Chem. 2013, May 15, 61(19), 4546-4550.

    23. Larki-Harchegani A., Hemmati A.A., Arzi A., Ghafurian-Boroojerdnia M., Shabib S., Zadkarami M.R., Esmaeilzadeh S. Evaluation of the Effects of Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester on Prostaglandin E2 and Two Key Cytokines Involved in Bleomycin-induced Pulmonary Fibrosis -Iran. J. Basic. Med. Sci. 2013, Jul., 16(7), 850-857.

    24. Dalben-Dota K.F., Faria M.G., Bruschi M.L., Pelloso S.M., Lopes-Consolaro M.E., Svidzinski T.I. Anti-fungal activity of propolis extract against yeasts isolated from vaginal exudates - J. Altern. Complement. Med. 2010, Mar., 16(3), 285-290.

    25. Wagh V.D. Propolis: A Wonder Bees Product and Its Pharmacological Potentials - Adv. Pharmacol. Sci. 2013, 2013, 308249.

    26. De Vecchi E., Drago L. [Propolis' antimicrobial activity: what's new?] - Infez. Med. 2007, Mar., 15 (1), 7-15.

    27. de Almeida E.B., Cordeiro Cardoso J., Karla de Lima A., de Oliveira N.L., de Pontes-Filho N.T., Oliveira Lima S., Leal Souza I.C., de Albuquerque-Junior R.L. The incorporation of Brazilian propolis into collagen-based dressing films improves dermal burn healing - J. Ethnopharmacol. 2013, May 20, 147(2), 419-425.

    28. Marchisio P., Esposito S., Bianchini S., Desantis C., Galeone C., Nazzari E., Pignataro L., Principi N. Effectiveness of a propolis and zinc solution in preventing acute otitis media in children with a history of recurrent acute otitis media - Int. J. Immunopathol. Pharmacol. 2010, 23(2), 567-575.

    29. Velazquez C., Navarro M., Acosta A., Angulo A., Dominguez Z., Robles R., Robles-Zepeda R., Lugo E., Goycoolea F.M., Velazquez E.F., Astiazaran H., Hernandez J. Antibacterial and free-radical scavenging activities of Sonoran propolis - J. Appl. Microbiol. 2007, Nov., 103(5), 1747-1756.

    30. Paulis G., D'Ascenzo R., Nupieri P., De Giorgio G., Orsolini G., Brancato T., Alvaro R. Effectiveness of antioxidants (propolis, blueberry, vitamin E) associated with verapamil in the medical management of Peyronie's disease: a study of 151 cases - Int. J. Androl. 2012, Aug., 35(4), 521-527.

    31. Kucharzewski M., Kubacka S., Urbanek T., Wilemska-Kucharzewska K., Morawiec T. Stan schel-ler: the forerunner of clinical studies on using propolis for poor and chronic nonhealing wounds - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013, 2013, 456859.

    32. Ramanauskiene K., Inkeniene A.M. Propolis oil extract: quality analysis and evaluation of its antimicrobial activity - Nat. Prod. Res. 2011, Sep., 25(15), 1463-1468.

    33. Larki A., Hemmati A.A., Arzi A., Borujerdnia M.G., Esmaeilzadeh S., Zad Karami M.R. Regulatory effect of caffeic acid phenethyl ester on type I collagen and interferon-gamma in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in rat - Res. Pharm. Sci. 2013, Oct., 8(4), 243-252.

    34. Zaeemzadeh N., Hemmati A., Arzi A., Jalali M., Rashidi I. Protective Effect of Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE) on Amiodarone-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosisin Rat - Iran. J. Pharm. Res. 2011, Spring, 10(2), 321-328.

    35. Amarante M.K., Watanabe M.A., Conchon-Costa I., Fiori L.L., Oda J.M., Búfalo M.C., Sforcin J.M. The effect of propolis on CCL5 and IFN-y expression by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from leishmaniasis patients - J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2012, Jan., 64(1), 154-160.

    36. Lemourt Oliva M., Fragas Valdes R., Bordonado Ramirez R., Santana J.L., Gonzalez Oramas E., Merino A. Peyronie's disease. Evaluation of 3 therapeutic modalities: propoleum, laser and simultaneous propoleum-laser - Arch. Esp. Urol. 2005, Nov., 58(9), 931-935.

    37. Nolkemper S., Reichling J., Sensch K.H., Schnitzler P. Mechanism of herpes simplex virus type 2 suppression by propolis extracts - Phytomedicine 2010, Feb., 17(2), 132-138.

    38. Possamai M.M., Honorio-Franga A.C., Reinaque A.P., Franga E.L., Souto P.C. Brazilian propolis: a natural product that improved the fungicidal activity by blood phagocytes - Biomed. Res. Int. 2013, 2013, 541018.

    39. Freitas J.A., Vanat N., Pinheiro J.W., Balarin M.R., Sforcin J.M., Venancio E.J. The effects of propolis on antibody production by laying hens - Poult. Sci. 2011, Jun., 90(6), 1227-1233.

    40. Jastrz^bska-Stojko Z., Stojko R., Rzepecka-Stojko A., Kabala-Dzik A., Stojko J. Biological activity of propolis-honey balm in the treatment of experimentally-evoked burn wounds - Molecules 2013, Nov 21, 18(11), 14397-14413.

    41. Meneghelli C., Joaquim L.S., Félix G.L., Somensi A., Tomazzoli M., da Silva D.A., Berti F.V., Veleirinho M.B., Recouvreux Dde O., de Mattos Zeri A.C., Dias P.F., Maraschin M. Southern Brazilian autumnal propolis shows anti-angiogenic activity: an in vitro and in vivo study - Microvasc. Res. 2013, Jul., 88, 1-11.

    42. Urushisaki T., Takemura T., Tazawa S., Fukuoka M., Hosokawa-Muto J., Araki Y., Kuwata K. Caffeoylquinic acids are major constituents with potent anti-influenza effects in brazilian green propolis water extract - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2011, 2011, 254914.

    43. Büyükberber M., Sava§ M.C., Bagci C., Koruk M., Gül§en M.T., Tutar E., Bilgig T., Deveci R., Kügük C. The beneficial effect of propolis on cerulein-induced experimental acute pancreatitis in rats - Turk. J. Gastroenterol. 2009, Jun., 20(2), 122-128.

    44. Al-Waili N., Al-Ghamdi A., Ansari M.J., Al-Attal Y., Salom K. Synergistic effects of honey and propolis toward drug multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans isolates in single and polymicrobial cultures - Int. J. Med. Sci. 2012, 9(9), 793-800.

    45. Aygun A., Sert D. Effects of prestorage application of propolis and storage time on eggshell microbial activity, hatchability, and chick performance in Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) eggs - Poult. Sci. 2013, Dec., 92(12), 3330-3337.

    46. Lopes A.A., Ferreira T.S., Nesi R.T., Lanzetti M., Pires K.M., Silva A.M., Borges R.M., Silva A.J., Valença S.S., Porto L.C. Antioxidant action of propolis on mouse lungs exposed to short-term cigarette smoke - Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2013, Dec 15, 21(24), 7570-7577.

    47. da Silva S.S., Thome Gda S., Cataneo A.H., Miranda M.M., Felipe I., Andrade C.G., Watanabe M.A., Piana G.M., Sforcin J.M., Pavanelli W.R., Conchon-Costa I. Brazilian propolis antileishmanial and immunomodulatory effects - Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013, 2013, 673058.

    48. Paulis G., Cavallini G., Giorgio G.D., Quattrocchi S., Brancato T., Alvaro R. Long-Term Multimodal Therapy (Verapamil Associated with Propolis, Blueberry, Vitamin E and Local Diclofenac) on Patients with Peyronie's Disease (Chronic Inflammation of the Tunica Albuginea). Results of a Controlled Study - Inflamm. Allergy Drug. Targets. 2013, Dec., 12(6), 403-409.

    49. Imhof M., Lipovac M., Kurz Ch., Barta J., Verhoeven H.C., Huber J.C. Propolis solution for the treatment of chronic vaginitis - Int. J. Gynaecol. Obstet. 2005, May, 89(2), 127-132.

    50. Shimizu T., Hino A., Tsutsumi A., Park Y.K., Watanabe W., Kurokawa M. Anti-influenza virus activity of propolis in vitro and its efficacy against influenza infection in mice - Antivir. Chem. Chemother. 2008, 19(1), 7-13.

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