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What are the Medical Uses of Propolis?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Bee propolis, which is a bee product, is a popular alternative medicine treatment that was used by many ancient cultures. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which might make it suitable in treating certain bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It also can be used in oral and gastrointestinal (GI) care, in cancer treatments and to boost the immune system. It also is an excellent source of important vitamins and minerals.

Its antimicrobial properties have made it a natural medicine for wound cleaning and treating superficial burns. It appears to speed healing when used in this way. The open lesions of genital herpes seem to heal more quickly when treated with this product.

This bee product has several uses for dental health as well. When it is used in mouthwash, it might ease dental pain and inflammation. A mouthwash with bee propolis as an ingredient also can lessen bacteria and reduce the formation of plaque.

Inflammation might be reduced when bee propolis is used in cases of rheumatic diseases. It can enhance the immune system for these patients as well. For people who suffer from GI ulcers caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties might be helpful.

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Bee propolis contains ingredients that have anticancer properties, known as artepillin C (ARC) and caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE). These properties are why it is being studied as a treatment for neurofibromatosis tumors. In separate studies, its CAPE and quercetin prevented tumors from developing blood supplies of their own, thereby reducing tumor growth.

A resin-like material which originates from cone-bearing and poplar trees, propolis is used by bees to create a compound known as bee propolis. The bees use the bee “glue” to seal the beehive and maintain its sterility. It also can encapsulate any invading pests.

As a dietary supplement or topical treatment, bee propolis is available in several forms, such as powder, capsules, tablets or creams. It can cause an allergic reaction, however, especially in people who are allergic to propolis, bee venom, honey, other bee products or black poplar and poplar bud. Other than allergies, it produces few side effects. Skin or mucous membranes might be irritated. If other drugs or dietary supplements are used, one should check with a healthcare provider for possible interactions.

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