What Is Propolis And Its Extract ?

Honeycomb made of bee propolis on a white background.
Photo by mel_gama, c/o Pixabay.

Propolis is a natural resinous substance collected by bees from parts of plants, their buds, and other exudates as they pollinate them (Ghisalberti 1979). This resin is eaten then chewed and masticated by adding enzymes from their saliva. The partially digested resin is mixed with beeswax for use as a glue in the hive where it makes for an effective building material. Using propolis dates as far back as 300 B.C. according to ancient papyrus.


Propolis contains many unusual compounds especially flavonoids, phenolic acids and various esters (Bankskota et al., 2001),  phenolic aldehydes, alcohols and ketones, quinones, steroids, and amino acids (Chaillou and Nazareno, 2009).

The main flavonoids are rutin (quercetin 3‐O‐rutinoside) (Bonhevi and Call, 1994) and  isorhamnetin‐3‐O‐rutinoside (Popova et al., 2009).


A regular component of folk medicine (Ghisalberti 1979; Marcucci 1995). It is a natural medicine and has many benefits which include:

  • antibacterial,
  • antifungal,
  • antitumor,
  • antioxidative,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • immunomodulatory,
  • antihepatotoxic (liver protecting), 
  • various other beneficial activities. 

In the food sense, propolis is is taken as a health drink in all sorts of countries from Asia, to Europe and the Americas.

The resin is also a component of various cosmetics. 


Banskota, A.H.Tezuka, Y.Kadota, S.H. (2001) Recent progress in pharmacological research of propolisPhytother. Res. 15 pp. 56171https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1029

Bonvehi, J.S.Call, F.V. (1994) Phenolic composition of propolis from China and from South America. Z Naturforsch C. 49 pp. 71218https://doi.org/10.1515/znc-2000-9-1017

Chaillou, L.L., Nazareno, M.A. (2009) Bioactivity of propolis from Santiago del Estero, Argentina, related to their chemical composition. LWT-Food Sci Technol. 42 pp. 1422–7

Ghisalberti, E.L. (1979) Propolis: a reviewBee World 60 pp. 5984https://doi.org/10.1080/0005772X.1979.11097738

Marcucci, M.C. (1995) Propolis: chemical composition, biological properties and therapeutic activityApidologie 26 pp. 8399https://doi.org/10.1051/apido:19950202

Popova, M.P.Chinou, I.B.Marekov, I.N.,Bankova, V.S. (2009) Terpenes with antimicrobial activity from Cretan propolisPhytochemistry 70 pp. 126271.

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