A mixture of tree resin and beeswax, propolis can be found as a byproduct of honey production that is used by bees to seal cracks in beehives. The compound has been used for centuries to counter a variety of medical conditions — some proven and others not. In ointments it is used for herpes outbreaks or as an antibacterial agent. In a propolis spray, it is used to provide relief for sore throat, laryngitis and strep throat.
Bees get propolis, which also goes by the name bee glue, only from certain places, namely the budding leaves of coniferous trees like pines, spruce and fir. They collect the resinous material on their tails and fly back to the hive, where it is used for sound construction and to seal out bacterial infections. The resin is clumped together by the bees' hind legs, at which point it can be used.
Propolis has been used throughout modern civilization. The Egyptians used it for their mummification process, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In ancient Greece and Assyria, it was used to heal wounds and abscesses. Every since, the healing resin in propolis spray and ointment has been considered an effective balm for several ailments, from sore throat to herpes outbreaks.
The NIH states that propolis spray has been proven "possibly effective" for promoting healing and lessening inflammation after mouth surgery. This mouth wash contains a simple mixture of propolis, water and astringent alcohol. Propolis ointment "seems to significantly improve healing," the NIH states, for the genital lesions created by herpes simplex II — even more so than the more-common acyclovir treatment.
Herbalists and other alternative medicine proponents credit propolis spray or ointment with numerous other strengths, though the NIH states there is not enough evidence to rate the effectiveness. These include treating sore throat, canker sores, various infections, ulcers, burns, cuts, intestinal problems, and some cancers of the throat and nasal passages as well as tuberculosis and even the common cold. These varied uses are largely due to the proven anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics of propolis spray and ointment.
A range of bee product companies manufacture propolis spray, which is available without a prescription. These companies advertise its effectiveness as a balm for several throat conditions. These range from sore throat and strep throat to more the serious conditions like laryngitis and surgical healing.