Propolis is produced by bees and is used as a construction material in bee hives. To protect the hive and its nutritious contents from attack by micro-organisms, propolis has anti-microbial properties. Propolis is comprised of a complex of chemicals (especially flavonoids), which play a role as antiviral and antibacterial agents.
Propolis for Herpes
When propolis was administered to various laboratory animals and to Vero cells in vitro (in laboratory cultures) significant inhibitory effects against HSV-1 were found. Propolis (5%) prevented development of symptoms of intraperitoneal HSV-1 infection in rats and corneal HSV-1 infection in rabbits.
In one study, 90 men and women with recurrent genital HSV2 were divided into two groups to compare the healing ability of propolis ointment versus acyclovir ointment and placebo. At day 10, 80 percent of patients in the propolis group had healed versus 47 percent in the acyclovir group and 40 percent in the placebo group.
Human trials as an internal anti-viral agent have not been done. Based on successful laboratory and animal studies, and successful use as a topical agent on herpes lesions, it is hypothesized that it may be beneficial as an oral anti-viral agent in humans as well.
Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Viral Properties of Propolis
The early research on propolis was mostly done in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Laboratory tests demonstrated that propolis on its own is effective against over 20 kinds of bacteria. Clinical studies also demonstrated that propolis was effective against various kinds of bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Dr. Kravcuk of Kiev found that propolis was effective against sore throats and dry coughs in 90% of 260 patients. A recent study by Serkedjieva, et al, showed that the active ingredients in propolis significantly inhibited the Hong Kong flu virus. In a recent study, Egyptian researchers examined two types of propolis and found they exhibited antibacterial activity against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli as well as the fungus candida albicans. In a March 2004 article in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, an herbal formula containing echinacea, propolis, and vitamin C was tested on 430 children in a double blind placebo controlled study. The group treated with the herbal formula a 55 percent reduction in the number of illness episodes compared with the placebo group. In treated children, the mean number of episodes per child was decreased by half and the mean number of days each child suffered from a fever was reduced by 62 percent.
The antibacterial properties of propolis appear to be due to multiple mechanisms. Propolis inhibits bacterial growth by preventing cell division. It also disorganizes bacterial cytoplasm, cell membranes, and cell walls. Propolis causes partial bacteriolysis and inhibits protein synthesis. In addition, propolis appears to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics such as penicillin and streptomycin.
Propolis and Immune Enhancement
In addition to providing direct anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects, Propolis also stimulates the bodys immune system. Propolis significantly activates macrophages, which play an important role in infection prevention. In addition, it can significantly inhibit lipoxygenase activity, thereby inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis and producing anti-inflammatory effects.
Propolis in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer
Propolis may also have value in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), one of the active ingredients in propolis, has been shown to prevent cancer formation in animal models. It also showed strong cancer inhibitory effects against several colon cancers, melanoma and glioblastoma. Propolis inhibits cancer cell growth by increasing the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Propolis and Ulcers
Propolis has been reported to be effective in the treatment of Ulcers. In a clinical study involving 294 patients Dr. Franz K. Feiks, in Austria found that 90% of 108 ulcer patients given propolis were free of symptoms after two weeks, compared to only 55% of 186 conventionally treated patients. Dr. Feiks also noticed that 70% of the propolis group obtained relief in three days, compared to only 10% of the group receiving conventional medication.
No side effects have been reported for propolis. The LD50 (the dose causing half of the tested animals to die) for propolis is 7.34 g/Kg body weight in mice. Thats close to 50 gm of propolis for a 160 pound person. Propolis has also been reported to be non-irritating and safe for topical use.