Bees produce a compound called propolis from the sap on needle-leaved trees or evergreens. When they combine the sap with their own discharges and beeswax, they create a sticky, greenish-brown product that is used as a coating to build their hives. This is propolis.
Thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations used propolis for its medicinal properties. Greeks used it to treat abscesses. Assyrians put it on wounds and tumors to fight infection and help the healing process. Egyptians used it embalm mummies.
Propolis is an ingredient used in many of Hershey's Honey skin care products. The compound is still used for medical purposes, which include:
- fighting infections
- boosting the immune system
- healing genital herpes and cold sores
- treating skin injuries
- helping the mouth heal after dental surgery
What the Research Says
Despite its many uses, scientific research on propolis is still limited. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how it works, but the bee product does appear to provide protection from some bacteria, viruses, and fungi. One study found that applying a propolis solution to wounds helped to speed healing in rats with diabetes. These findings are encouraging, but still need further research.
According to the National institutes of Health (NIH), propolis is “possibly effective” for treating cold sores, genital herpes outbreaks, and improving the healing process after mouth surgery.