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Propolis Benefits for Cold Sores

Propolis Benefits for Cold Sores


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.


Propolis has a long history of use for medicinal purposes from the time of Aristotle. It has been used for healing wounds, relieving abscesses, and preventing tumors. In Egypt, propolis was used for mummification. Propolis has the potential to relieve canker sores and treat respiratory and gastrointestinal problems. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of propolis help prevent infections, reduce inflammation and boost immune health.

There are a lot of studies conducted to analyze the propolis benefits for cold sores and other health conditions.

What is Propolis?

Propolis is a sticky, greenish-brown resin obtained from the buds of cone-bearing trees. In addition to producing honey, bees also make a resin-type material from the sap of needle-leaved trees. When this sap is mixed with beeswax and other discharges, it results in sticky material which coats their hives, this material is known as propolis.

Propolis composition may differ according to the location of bees and the type of trees. For instance, European propolis has different chemical makeup than propolis in Brazil. It is therefore a great challenge for researchers to conclude the health benefits of propolis.

The potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities of propolis make it an effective compound to treat cold sores and herpes simples, prevent diabetes and reduce swelling in the mouth. Propolis is also applied to the skin to promote wound healing, treat genital herpes and cold sores, and treat minor cuts.

Propolis for Cold Sores

Studies showed that propolis contains about more than 300 chemical compounds, the most common of which are polyphenols. These polyphenols are potent antioxidants that fight against infections and prevent diseases.

Treat Cold Sores

Cold sores are the painful blisters formed near your lips due to the Herpes simplex virus. No treatment can heal the cold sore in a night, but it may shorten the life span of these painful sores. In order to get quick relief, you should start some natural remedies as soon as you feel itching and tingling around your lips. If you have strong immunity, these cold sores clear up in 9-10 days. There are some antiviral herbs that fight against viruses and relieve painful cold sores.

Propolis possesses powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Consumption of propolis extract results in a reduction of cold sores and improvement in healing. A study showed that topical application of an ointment containing propolis resulted in improved symptoms of cold sores than those who didn’t get any treatment. It not only treats cold sore symptoms but also reduces the risk of cold sore breakouts.

How Does It work?

Pure propolis extract contains caffeic acid, cinnamic acids, and flavonoids (chrysin, galangin, and kaempferol) which possess potent antiviral activities against the herpes simplex virus. This antiviral potential makes it an effective remedy for cold sores. In addition to fighting against viruses, propolis also blocks the penetration of virus into the cells and avert infections.

A placebo-controlled study was conducted to measure the viability of HSV after treatment with propolis extract. Propolis possesses potent virucidal properties which prevent infections. Tests were performed at room temperature which impairs the penetration of virus and gives real-life results. Results revealed that propolis targets glycoproteins in viral envelop and impair the abilities of viral envelop to penetrate the host cells.

Propolis restricts the replication of Herpes Simplex Virus and shortens the lifespan. In a study, an ointment with 5% propolis extract was consumed and results showed a significant improvement in symptoms of cold sores. Propolis extract is also used for humans in cosmetics and ointments with a proportion of 3%.

Other Benefits of Propolis

Research showed that propolis owns antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties which prevent infections and boost immunity.

Promote Wound Healing

Pinocembrin, a flavonoid present in the propolis serves as antifungal agent. These antimicrobial effects help in wound cleansing and prevent the wounds to be infected. According to a study, the consumption of propolis stimulates cell growth and speeds up the healing of wounds and burns.

Research also revealed that topical application of propolis extract was more potent than steroid creams in preventing cold sores. It may also reduce mast cells in wounds, as mast cells increase inflammation and slowed the process of wound healing.

May Prevent Cancer

Studies suggest that propolis has anticancer effects which help treat and prevent certain types of cancers. Propolis may prevent cancer because it restricts the replication of cancer cells, blocks cell signaling pathways, and induce cell death.

Another study revealed that propolis is effective against breast cancer cells and is used as a complementary therapy to treat breast cancer.

Effective Against Genital Herpes

Evidence showed that topical application of ointment with 3% of propolis increases the healing of genital herpes lesions and is more effective than acyclovir ointment.

Treat Respiratory Infections

 Propolis consumption is associated with a reduced duration of the common cold and other respiratory infections like tuberculosis.

Prevent Fungal Infections

Research suggests that consuming propolis extract 4 times a day for a week treats fungal infections like oral thrush and candidiasis.

Improve Gut Health

The antimicrobial effects of propolis help prevent intestinal infections and promote gut health. Studies showed that consuming 30% propolis extract resulted in curing giardiasis and was more effective than tinidazole.

Possible Risks or Side Effects

  • Propolis is considered usually safe when used orally and applied topically. However, it may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to bees or bees products.
  • Research about the safety of propolis in pregnancy and lactation is limited, it is therefore advised not to use propolis in pregnancy and lactation.
  • People suffering from asthma and bleeding disorders should also avoid propolis. Propolis increases the efficacy of anticoagulant medications and should be avoided in people consuming these medications.

Measures to Prevent Spreading of Cold Sores

Cold sores are mainly triggered by stress, illness, and weak immunity, as low immunity pose the body at risk of various diseases. To lower the risks of cold sores, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet and exercise.

To avoid the transmission of cold sores to other people, you should take some safety measures.

  • You should avoid intimate contact until the sores are healed.
  • Avoid sharing your personal care items like toothbrushes, utensils, clothes, cosmetics, and towels.
  • Remember to wash your hand every time you touch the sore and apply ointment to sores.
  • Apply sunscreen to areas of cold sores if sunlight triggers cold sores.

Bottom Line

Propolis is a resin-like material formed by combining beeswax, saliva, and sap from cone-bearing trees. This sticky greenish-brown material possesses potent antiviral abilities which prevent cold sores resulting from herpes simplex virus. The topical application of ointments with added propolis helps clean wounds, prevent infections, and speed up healing.

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