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Propolis is a resin that bees create. It contains a mixture of bee saliva, beeswax which can be used into beeswax candles, and substances from plants and trees. Propolis may have some health benefits for humans, but more large-scale studies are necessary.
Bees use propolis, or “bee glue,” as a sealant. Historically, humans have used it topically or as an oral supplement. However, it may not be suitable for everyone.
This article will look at what propolis is, what the research says about its potential benefits, and how to use it.
What is propolis?
Propolis is a resinous, waxy substance that bees create by mixing their saliva with beeswax, along with compounds from various plants and trees. Bees use it to seal gaps in the hive to keep out intruders. Propolis also has antimicrobial properties and may protect bees from pathogens.
The substances that make up propolis can be complex. Scientists have identified more than 300 separate compoundsTrusted Source in propolis. The exact composition can depend on the location of the beehive.
As a rough guideline, propolis typically consists of:
tree and vegetable resins: 50%
essential and aromatic oils: 10%
Propolis also contains polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant.
One 2019 review suggests that people have used bee propolis as a medicine since the year 300 BCTrusted Source. Ancient Egyptians used propolis for embalming, and some doctors used it during World War II to help with wound healing.
The same 2019 review suggests that it may have the following properties:
antiprotozoal, which means that it works against parasitic illnesses, such as giardiasis
Some of the substances present in propolis may also have anticancer properties.
However, although laboratory and animal studies into the properties of propolis and its components are promising, few high quality studies have proven its effectiveness as a treatment for specific conditions in humans.