raw propolis

What is Propolis?

Propolis is a natural resinous mixture produced by honeybees from substances collected from parts of plants, buds, and exudates. The word propolis is derived from Greek, in which pro stands for “at the entrance to” and polis for “community” or “city,” which means this natural product is used in hive defense. Another name of propolis is bee glue. Due to its waxy nature and mechanical properties, bees use propolis in the construction and repair of their hives—for sealing openings and cracks and smoothing out the internal walls and as a protective barrier against external invaders like snakes, lizards, and so forth, or against wind and rain. Bees gather propolis from different plants in different temperate climatic zones.

  • Thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations used propolis for its medicinal properties.
  • Greeks used it to treat abscesses.
  • Assyrians put it on wounds and tumors to fight infection and help the healing process.
  • Egyptians used it to embalm mummies.

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on September 2, 2016 — Written by Rena Goldman and Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN


Healing Compounds in Propolis

Propolis is a complex mixture made by bee-released and plant-derived compounds. In general, raw propolis is composed of around 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% of various organic compounds . More than 300 constituents were identified in different samples and new ones are still being recognized during chemical characterization of new types of propolis.

The majority of these compounds are forms of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that fight disease and damage in the body. Specifically, propolis contains the polyphenols called flavonoids. Flavonoids are produced in plants as a form of protection. They’re commonly found in foods thought to have antioxidant properties, including:

  • fruits
  • green tea
  • vegetables
  • red wine

The composition of propolis can vary depending on the location of the bees and what trees and flowers they have access to. For example, propolis from Europe won’t have the same chemical makeup as propolis from Brazil. The proportions of the various substances present in the propolis depend upon its place and time of collection.


Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on September 2, 2016 — Written by Rena Goldman and Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN

Wagh V. D. (2013). Propolis: a wonder bees product and its pharmacological potentials. Advances in pharmacological sciences2013, 308249. doi:10.1155/2013/308249


  • Honey and propolis provide beneficial effect on human health.
  • Since ancient times propolis has been extensively employed by man, especially in folk medicine to treat several maladies.
  • Egyptians used bee glue to embalm their cadavers as they well knew about its putrefactive properties.
  • Incas employed propolis as an antipyretic agent.
  • Greek and Roman physicians used it as mouth disinfectant and as an antiseptic and healing product in wound treatment, prescribed for topical therapy of cutaneous and mucosal wounds.
  • Propolis was listed as an official drug in the London pharmacopoeias of the 17th century.
  • Due to its antibacterial activity, in Europe propolis became very popular between the 17th and 20th centuries.


Propolis has been suggested to have a role in treating certain cancers as well. According to one  Trusted Source, some of the anti-cancerous effects of the substance include:

  • keeping cancerous cells from multiplying
  • reducing the likelihood cells will become cancerous
  • blocking pathways that keep cancer cells from signaling to each other

The study also suggested that propolis could be a complementary therapy — but not a sole treatment — for cancer. Another study found that taking Chinese propolis could be a helpful complementary therapy in treating breast cancer due to its anti-tumor effects on breast cancer cells.

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on September 2, 2016 — Written by Rena Goldman and Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN

Scientists examined the cancer killing effects of propolis tincture on two common types of prostate cancer. They concluded that propolis tincture markedly improved cell death in prostate cancer cells and suggested the significant role of propolis in chemo prevention of prostate cancer.The scientists then tested propolis against colon cancer cells. They found that it caused the cancer cells to die by necrosis, which means that it interrupted the blood supply to the cell and caused just the local cancer cells to die and NOT healthy, living cells.If you do suffer from hypertension, you may want to consider using raw honey, which contains propolis, as it has been proven to lower blood pressure.

Benefits of Propolis

  • Propolis Kills Bacteria
  • Propolis Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Propolis Helps Treat Bone Diseases
  • Propolis Helps Treat Allergies
  • Propolis Boosts Prostate Cancer Cell Death
  • Propolis Kills Colon Cancer Cells
  • Propolis May Help Treat Food Poisoning
  • Propolis Protects Injured Teeth
  • Heat Stress & Athletic Performance
  • Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, and detoxifying properties
  • Good for rheumatoid arthritis. Taking propolis can help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain to a certain extent. Its anti-inflammatory action is a result of a varied content of antioxidants, notably the flavonoids naringenin and quercetin, and caffeic acid