In addition to producing honey, bees also produce a sticky brown-greenish compound called propolis. Propolis is widely believed to be a herbal medicine that can cure various diseases. But how is the effectiveness of propolis scientifically assessed?
Propolis is a kind of sap that honey bees collect from various trees, sap streams, or other botanical sources, which are used by bees to cover or repair gaps in their hives.
Facts and Content of Propolis
Since 350 BC until now, propolis is believed to be a herbal medicine that can cure various diseases. Ancient Greek society used propolis as a drug for boils or abscesses. While many other countries use propolis to ward off infections and help the healing process when injured or even to cope with tumors.
Like honey with diverse contents and beneficial for health and beauty, propolis contains more than 300 chemical compounds. The most content is a polyphenol compound which acts as an antioxidant to overcome damage and disease in the body. One polyphenol compound is a flavonoid that functions as an antioxidant.
However, the composition of propolis is not always the same throughout the world. Therefore, the content of propolis is very much determined by the location of the bees, as well as the types of trees and plants in a country. This is the reason that makes it quite difficult for experts to conclude the benefits of propolis for health.
Benefits of Propolis Based on Medical Research
Propolis is thought to work against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Although it has been well researched by experts and has been registered with the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), the effectiveness of propolis has not been scientifically proven enough and needs to be further studied clinically.
Some conditions that can possibly be overcome with propolis:
Blisters on the lips (cold sores)
Blisters around the lips are also called cold sores, thought to be treated with propolis. Applying propolis to the blisters is thought to accelerate healing and reduce pain.
Propolis is also thought to help cure genital herpes sores caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Several studies have shown that wound healing is faster when compared to conventional treatments such as topical acyclovir. But, this statement still needs to be retested for further proof.
Accelerate healing and reduce pain and inflammation after oral surgery.
In addition, the benefits of propolis for the following conditions also require scientific research:
- Infection, inflammation and injury.
- Thrush and oral candidiasis.
- Heliobacter pylori infection.
- Upper respiratory tract infection.
- Giardiasis or intestinal infection.
- Throat cancer and nose cancer.
- Minor burns.
Further research is needed to prove the benefits of propolis in dealing with a number of diseases, dosages, and the level of safety.
Be careful using Propolis
It’s best to be careful using propolis especially if you have asthma. Some experts believe that a number of chemicals in propolis can make asthma worse. Likewise for those of you who have allergies to bee products, you should avoid propolis.
For those of you who have a disease or bleeding disorder, you should also be careful about using propolis. Because the compounds in propolis might slow the process of blood clotting. For the same reason, propolis should not be consumed about two weeks before surgery.
For pregnant and lactating women, it’s better to avoid using propolis, because it’s not proven to be safe.
Propolis does have the possibility to overcome several types of diseases. However, it still needs further research. It is best to consult a doctor before taking propolis, especially if you have certain health conditions or diseases.
In addition, if you consume propolis which belongs to a group of herbal medicines, make sure it is registered with BPOM and guaranteed safety.