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Propolis and Herpes

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Bee propolis has exciting promise for the treatment of herpes. Its effectiveness can be compared to the pharmaceutical drug acyclovir.

Beginning around 1990, medical researchers began to become interested and experimenting with bee propolis for herpes. Italian scientists at the University of Pavia, Italy noted that flavonoids found in propolis reduce the replication of the herpes virus.

What is bee propolis?

Bee propolis is resin bees collect from tree sap to help seal small cracks in the hive. Propolis is sometimes referred to as “bee glue,” which is usually brown in color and sticky.

Propolis not only preserves the structure of the hive but its antimicrobial and anti-parasitic capabilities help keep the hive and bees healthy. It is the health benefits of propolis that captured the attention of scientists.

Propolis and herpes

The Italian study, published in the medical journal Microbiologica tested the effectiveness of five flavonoids contained in propolis on the herpes simplex virus. Chrysine, kaempferol, acacetin, galanin, and quercetin were studied.

Of the five flavonoids, chrysine and kaemferol were able to keep the herpes virus from growing. However, these two flavonoids were not able to keep the herpes virus from infecting anyone else.

The quercetin in bee propolis was able to both reduce the odds of becoming infected with the virus and the virus growing and spreading when the flavonoid was used at high doses.

Propolis and herpes- induced eye disease

Five years later, in 1995, Russian scientists used a topical propolis “film” on patients with keratitis or nebula in connection with herpes.

When an eye ointment made with propolis was placed behind the lower eyelids at bedtime for ten days to fifteen days, the healing time was reduced by half. The patient's ability to see well increased by two times.

Propolis as good as acyclovir for herpes

The British Dental Journal published a letter in 2006 with the statement that propolis might be as effective for the treatment of the herpes simplex virus as the pharmaceutical herpes treatment drug, acyclovir.

The letter cited a 2000 study published in Phytomedicine. In this Russian study, ninety participants took either a placebo, acyclovir ointment or a propolis ointment as a treatment for herpes simplex virus- 2.

The participants were divided into groups of thirty each and were to apply the various ointments four times a day at the blister stage of any genital herpes outbreaks. Each participant was examined on days three, seven, and ten.

On day ten, twenty- four out of thirty participants in the propolis ointment group had healed. In the acyclovir ointment group, fourteen participants had healed. Only twelve of the placebo grouped had healed by day ten.

The study concluded that the healing process was faster with a propolis ointment containing flavonoids.

Propolis for herpes simplex virus-1 and herpes simplex virus-2

By 2007, scientists were working to make a variety of medical products using propolis. One study compared the difference between a bee propolis tincture made with alcohol and a new chelated propolis compound.

Among the different medical conditions used to compare the two forms of propolis was oral herpes. The new formula of chelated propolis worked much better than propolis tincture to help heal oral herpes.

However, in 2010, Phytomedicine reported a German study with propolis extracts in both water and alcohol which brought impressive results when applied to genital herpes virus cell cultures in the laboratory. Infectivity rates were reduced by over 99%.

How to use propolis for herpes

Medline Plus recommends using one of two different propolis ointments for either cold sores or genital herpes. Both ointments are reported to improve the healing time and relieve the pain somewhat.

Propolis ointment should be applied five times a day for cold sores and four times a day for genital herpes outbreaks.


Pubmed.gov,”Effects of propolis flavonoids on virus infectivity and replication.” Debiaggi M and Tateo F, et al. Microbiolgica. July 1990; 13(3): 207- 13.

Pubmed.gov, “The use of ocular drug films of propolis in the sequelae of ophthalmic herpes.” Maichuk luF and Orlovskaia LE, et al. Voenno Meditsinskii Zhurnal. December 1995; (12): 36-9, 80.

Pubmed.gov, “A comparative multi-centre study of the efficacy of propolis, acyclovir and placebo in the treatment of genital herpes (HSV).” Vynograd N and Vynograd I, et al. Phytomedicine. March 2000; 7(1): 1-6.

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