Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 10.02.2024

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bee glue; bee resin, bee putty; propolis cera; Putty resin

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55% resin and pollen balm (caffeic acid esters), 20-30% wax, 10% essential oil, benzene carbon, phenyl acrylic acids, benzyl and phenyl alcohols; flavonoids.

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Propolis is the putty resin of bees. Bees collect the sticky exudate from the buds of various trees, mix it with saliva and wax and use it to make a resin with which they seal joints and cracks in their burrows.

Propolis is a brownish crumbly sticky mass with a spicy smell. It consists of 80% resins and waxes containing essential oils, flavonoids, pollen, insect components and foreign bodies. The buds it contains are mainly from Populus nigra L. (Black Poplar, Salicaceae) but also from other Populus species and other tree species, depending on the location of the beehive.

Field of application/use
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It was used for embalming in Egypt even before the Christian era and was also used for medicinal purposes in Greece and ancient Rome. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that it was rediscovered in Europe and has been widely used in folk medicine. Propolis is said to have bactericidal, antifungal, astringent, choleretic, antiseptic, spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing and anaesthetic properties. The antiviral effect is attributed to the flavonoids and caffeic acid esters it contains.

Dermatological applications include acne, psoriasis, atopic eczema, leg ulcers, burns, wounds, contact eczema, rosacea, herpes simplex infections, etc. Propolis is also widely used in cosmetics and toiletries.

Cosmetic applications: Propolis is used in cosmetic formulations. The mixture of substances acts as a care for blemished skin, as a preservative and as a moisturizing substance.

Homeopathic preparations can contain propolis, as can chewing gum and caramel sweets.

Technical uses: Propolis is used in the textile industry and is used in the production of modeling compounds, polishes and varnishes, e.g. for the surface treatment of violins.

Medical application: Propolis-containing topicals are widely used in cosmetics and toiletries. It is used for the care of blemished skin, as a preservative and as a moisturizing agent.

Undesirable effects
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The main allergens are the caffeic acid esters isolated from the poplar buds (see also Populi gemmae). Sensitizing potency: Medium (propolis) or strong (caffeic acid ester). Frequency of sensitization: Rare. In the past, mainly beekeepers were sensitized, today mostly private persons, who use the external application of products containing propolis (see above). Owing to their antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anaesthetic and other effects, they are often contained in local therapeutic products. Cross allergies with colophony, beeswax, Peru balsam, Pix pinaceae, Pix betulina, cinnamic aldehyde. Sensitization rate in patients between 1 and 2%.

Clinical picture
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Contact allergy on hands, face, trunk, lower legs.

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  1. Ammon HTP (2014) Hunnius Pharmaceutical Dictionary. Walter de Gruyter GmbH Berlin,Boston p.1464
  2. Hausen BM, Vieluf K (1997) Allergy plants, plant allergens. Ecomed publishing house, Landsberg/Munich, S. 209-213
  3. Miorin PL et al (2003) Antibacterial activity of honey and propolis from Apis mellifera and Tetragonisca angustula against Staphylococcus aureus. J Appl Microbiol 95: 913-920
  4. Patricio EF et al (2002) The propolis of stingless bees: terpenes from the tibia of three Frieseomelitta species. J Insect Physiol 48: 249-254


Last updated on: 10.02.2024