Adverse Reactions to Taking Propolis

Cherry Blossom and Honeybee
bee that makes propolis - bee glue in action (Image: SumikoPhoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Bee propolis, also referred to as bee glue, Russian penicillin and beeswax acid, is similar to resin that forms in the buds of cone-bearing trees. The substance is sticky and greenish-brown in color and has a faint aromatic smell. Companies collect propolis from beehives. The substance is used for medicinal purposes such as treating herpes outbreak and treating cold sores. Consult your health care professional before taking propolis to treat a medical condition.

Safe For Use

Propolis does not typically cause adverse reactions and you may use products containing propolis without experiencing side effects. Adverse reactions may be more common if you who use more than 15 grams of propolis daily, according to Drugs.com. Information is lacking for symptoms of toxic levels of propolis. Ointments, oral solutions and lozenges may cause adverse reactions.

Local Irritation

If you use propolis to treat conditions such as a herpes outbreak and mouth pain you may experience irritation. Lozenges containing propolis or a mouth rinse containing the substance may cause mouth ulcers or irritation to occur. When you apply a propolis ointment -- to treat a genital herpes outbreak -- you may experience irritation to the surrounding skin. Eczema sufferers may be more susceptible to developing skin irritation, according to Drugs.com.

Allergic Reaction

You may experience an allergic reaction when taking propolis. If you have an allergy to bees or bee products, honey, poplar trees, conifer trees, Peru balsam, or aspirin you may be more likely to experience an allergic response when using propolis. Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling of the face, mouth and airway; difficulty breathing; an increase in heart rate; and hives. An allergic reaction requires emergency medical attention to prevent life-threatening complications.

Warnings and Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should avoid using propolis. The product may cause harm to your developing baby. Individuals who suffer from asthma should not take propolis because chemicals in the substance may cause the condition to worsen, according to MedlinePlus.

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