POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS AND SIDE EFFECTS OF PROPOLIS
Propolis has attracted much attention in recent years as a popular ingredient used in food and
cosmetic products. It is now extensively used in foods and beverages with the claim that it may
benefit human health. Propolis is also applied in a number of daily products, including lip balms,
cosmetics, lotions and ointments, shampoos, conditioners, and toothpastes. [1,2]
Potential Health Benefits of Propolis
Propolis is a natural product derived from plant resins collected by honeybees. It is used by bees
as glue, a general-purpose sealer, and as draught-extruder for beehives. Propolis has been used
in folk medicine for centuries. Propolis has been shown to have benefits of blood pressure and
cholesterol lowering.  Propolis was found to have benefits of activities against a range of
commonly encountered cocci and Gram-positive rods, including the human tubercle bacillus, but
only limited activity against Gram-negative bacilli.  In addition, because of its antiinflammatory,
antioxidative, anti-ulcer and anti-tumor activities, intake of propolis may further benefit the health of
the users. [1-6]
The chemical composition of propolis is quite complicated. It has more than 300 compounds such
as polyphenols, phenolic aldehydes, sequiterpene quinines, coumarins, amino acids, steroids and
inorganic compounds.  The contents depend on the collecting location, time and plant source.
Consequently, biological activities of propolis gathered from different phytogeographical areas and
time periods vary greatly. [1,4]
Side Effects of Propolis
Reports of allergic reactions are not uncommon. More 200 cases of dermatitis of propolis have
been reported, including the first description of 'poplar bud' contact dermatitis from 1887.  1.2 to
6.6% of patients who are patch-tested for dermatitis are sensitive to propolis. The main allergens
are 3-methyl-2-butenyl caffeate and phenylethyl caffeate. Benzyl salicylate and benzyl cinnamate
are less frequent sensitizers.  Propolis is relatively non-toxic, with a no-effect level (NOEL) in a
90-mouse study of 1400 mg/kg body weight/day. 
REFERENCE  Khalil ML. Biological activity of bee propolis in health and disease. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2006
Jan-Mar;7(1):22-31.  Walgrave SE, et al, Allergic contact dermatitis from propolis. Dermatitis. 2005 Dec;16(4):209-15.  Castaldo
S, Capasso F. Propolis, an old remedy used in modern medicine. Fitoterapia. 2002 Nov;73 Suppl 1:S1-6.  Banskota AH, et al,
Recent progress in pharmacological research of propolis. Phytother Res. 2001 Nov;15(7):561-71.  Burdock GA. Review of the
biological properties and toxicity of bee propolis (propolis). Food Chem Toxicol. 1998 Apr;36(4):347-63.  Gallo FR, Savi G.
Propolis: its use in technology and researchBoll Chim Farm. 1995 Oct;134(9):483-91.  Grange JM, Davey RW. Antibacterial
properties of propolis (bee glue). J R Soc Med. 1990 Mar;83(3):159-60.  Hausen BM, et al, Propolis allergy. (I). Origin, properties,
usage and literature review. Contact Dermatitis. 1987 Sep;17(3):163-70.
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