Propolis Benefits for Allergies
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
About 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of allergies yearly according to a report of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Propolis-a resin-like material obtained from beeswax and plant material is known to help with allergies. It is claimed that despite the bee pollen may cause allergies, it also provides relief from allergy symptoms. This article details propolis benefits for allergies and how to take them to get rid of allergic reactions.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are the reactions of the body’s immune system to foreign substances like pollen, pet dander, environmental pollutants, and bee venom. Body defense cells fight against foreign substances and result in allergic symptoms. Allergies symptoms may aggravate in certain seasons like springs when plants start to pollinate and tiny particles are released into the air. The Body’s immune system responds to these environmental changes and symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, headache, and sneezing occur. These seasonal allergies are also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis.
What is Propolis?
Propolis or bee pollen is a resin-like material formed by the natural mixture of honey, bee wax, enzymes, nectar, pollens, and bee secretions. Natural health physicians consider it a nutritious food consisting of polyphenols, phytosterols, carotenoids, co-enzymes, folic acid, tocopherols, and vitamins.
Propolis is available in supplement forms and is widely used against various health conditions like allergies, acne, eczema, arthritis, asthma, and raised cholesterol. It is also known to improve energy, boost memory, increase weight loss, slow aging, and enhance athletic performance.
Is Propolis Good for Allergies?
Despite many online claims suggesting the health benefits of propolis, there is limited research and some of them show conflicting results. Antiallergic effects of propolis are not 100% proven however, it is claimed that good quality propolis with other natural remedies relieve allergy symptoms and increase total leukocyte count (TLC).
Various clinical and preclinical studies showed that propolis extract possesses powerful anti-allergic properties. It can fight against inflammation, allergic rhinitis, asthma, dermatitis, and food allergies. Though research is limited and needs to be conducted in humans.
How Does It Work?
Propolis is a complex compound that has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Studies have shown its potent antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It prevents the penetration of pathogen to the host cell and inhibits the enzymes and proteins necessary for the invasion and replication of pathogens in the host cells. Propolis also affects the metabolic processes of pathogens, disrupt cellular pathways, and decreases the energy production in pathogens.
On the other hand, propolis boosts innate immunity in the host and regulates inflammatory signaling pathways. It decreases the release of histamine from mast cells and prevents allergic symptoms. Moreover, propolis also enhances the antioxidant status of host cells. There is only a small number of clinical trials suggesting the efficacy of propolis against allergic conditions and infections.
What does Research Say?
Propolis is a complex mixture of bee wax, secretions, and plant pollens that possesses potent antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Though research is limited, there are some clinical and animal studies that showed the anti-allergic effects of propolis.
According to a study, rats were given propolis for two weeks and results showed that it inhibited the release of histamine from the mast cells of rats. Histamine is a compound released by mast cells and responsible for causing allergic symptoms like watery eyes, stuffiness, itchiness of eyes, and runny nose.
Research showed that ingesting propolis helps the body to build resistance against various pollens and relieve allergy symptoms. Various animal studies showed anti-allergic effects of propolis while there is an extensive need to conduct studies on humans.
There are some studies showing promising benefits of propolis against various health conditions.
- Animal studies revealed that propolis has the potential to reduce blood cholesterol levels including LDL and total cholesterol. However, human studies are limited in this regard and need to be confirmed.
- Propolis supplements promote healthy liver and prevent liver damage caused by alcohol or drug use.
- Studies in rats showed that propolis can be used as an effective remedy to relieve osteoporosis. Propolis may promote calcium and phosphate levels in the bone and prevent osteoporosis.
- Propolis possesses anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce inflammation, resist genetic mutation, and reduce the risk of diseases.
- Studies showed that propolis has the potential to reduce night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms occurred during the treatment of breast cancer.
- Applications of ointments with added propolis promote the healing of wounds and burns. Ointments with 0.5-3% propolis when applied topically help relieve cold sores and reduce inflammation.
Possible Risks and Interactions
People may get severe allergic reactions to propolis resulting in symptoms like itching, shortness of breath, swelling, lightheadedness, and other allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions may also occur in individuals who are allergic to pollens, grass, ragweed, and other plants. It is recommended to take the advice of your doctor before using propolis for allergies.
Propolis should not be used for children and pregnant women. These supplements should also be avoided during lactation.
Bee pollen or propolis can interact with some medications like blood thinners, warfarin. It may raise the risk of bleeding and bruising. Always take the advice of your doctor before using propolis if you are using some blood thinning medications. Stop taking propolis two weeks before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.
Propolis may also interact with some medications which are broken down in the liver. It may affect the way the liver breakdown the medicine and decrease the efficacy of medicines.
Dosage and How to Use?
Propolis can be used in dosages of 400-500 mg capsules by mouth for up to 13 months. Besides oral consumption, there are various creams, gels, ointments, and mouthwashes that contain propolis and are used for topical applications.
People may get allergic reactions to propolis, it is therefore recommended to start taking only a small amount to check its safety. If you have a capsule or tablet, open the capsule and use only a small amount of propolis for the test.
Propolis is a complex mixture of flower pollens, bees secretions, honey, and enzymes, and is considered a nutritious superfood. Packed with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects, propolis offers a variety of benefits to the body. It helps relieve allergies, treat asthma, improve cold sores, lower cholesterol levels and prevent diabetes. Always consult your physician before using propolis and make sure to buy high-quality propolis for better results.