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Propolis gel is a product made from chemical substances collected by bees to keep honeycombs free from bacteria. Often called bee glue, the dark, sticky gel is removed from bark or buds of plants by bees and used to fill holes in beehives. It acts as a sanitizer, becoming hard and waterproof when weather turns cold. Propolis gel shows antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It is added to creams, toothpaste, cosmetics, and cough remedies.
One small study showed propolis gel effective in treating gingivitis and periodontitis in the mouth. Gingivitis develops from poor dental hygiene that permits bacteria to form between the teeth and at the gum line. Pockets typically form in the gum, leading to loose teeth and eventual loss of bone.
Participants in the research study brushed their teeth with a Brazilian green propolis gel product and rinsed their mouths with a solution of the substance over a five-week period. Results showed a 95-percent reduction in the depth of pockets near the gums. Patients with loose teeth also showed improvement. Scientists recommended a larger study to confirm the effectiveness of these products.
Propolis gel might also treat denture stomatitis, a fungal infection common in denture wearers. This condition causes pain, swelling, and red sores, usually on the roof of the mouth, caused by ill-fitting dentures or improper cleaning to remove germs. Patients who used the gel in one experiment experienced relief from symptoms after one week.
Used as a cream, propolis gel might treat skin infection and speed healing of sores, scars, burns, and acne. It also might ease itching and pain from insect bites. The gel is high in vitamin B and flavonoids, which might also boost the body’s immune system. Ointments made from bee glue are sold to treat saddle sores and other sores on horses.
The gel generally is not edible in its primary form, but is sold as a dietary supplement. Manufacturers promote gel capsules as a treatment for high blood pressure and to prevent heart disease. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester in the gel might also heal stomach ulcers caused by certain bacteria. People allergic to bees should not use propolis gel.
Bees gather the resin from different plants, depending on season. The composition of propolis varies by its source. As a caulking compound, it makes the hive stronger and seals gaps where intruders or parasites might enter. If a small animal or insect does invade the hive, bees seal it with propolis to prevent decomposition. The gel is also used in car wax, varnish, and in some chewing gums.