what kills abacteria? propolis

Is propolis antibacterial? Can it kill bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites?

Yes. Propolis is antibacterial, and through substances which have been partly identified by our science, is able to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, any type of bad microorganism.

Over the last 40 years, hundreds of publications have appeared on biological and health enhancing properties of propolis. While there are countries where propolis is officially considered medicine (Switzerland, Germany), countries where it has always been used as medicine without asking permission to the official alophatic medicine (all Asian countries), countries where it is accepted and considered a supplement (like majority of European countries)there are also countries where it is completely disregarded – we don’t give names for this category! 🙂

Science has been testing the effects of propolis in cell experiments and animals, and fewer clinical trials. The main propolis types that has been studied are poplar and baccharis propolis. While having different active ingredients, these two types of propolis proved to have similar biological properties. And while our scientific work is still in progress, we haven’t yet identified all constituents of propolis, yet recognizing its health benefits. To give only one example: Baccharis (Green) propolis has showed antiviral activity, though no substances that would trigger it have been identified.

It seems that the health enhancing effects are found in the ethanol extractable part of propolis, called balsam. The biological activity of ethanol extracts is generally tested with 70 to 100 % ethanol extracts. 60-80 % aqueous ethanol solutions have a higher biological activity than tinctures, prepared with more or less water.

• What is Propolis
• Propolis can prevent and treat LEUKEMIA and CANCER
• Brazilian Green Propolis health benefits
• Composition of propolis

Antibacterial activity

From all the products of the hive, propolis has the highest antimicrobial activity. We refer here to all pathogenic and harmful bacteria, funghi, viruses, molds and parasites.
There have been numerous scientific studies that confirm its antibacterial activity which has been demonstrated against both gram positive and gram-posivite, both aerobic and anaerobic types.

Although the composition of propolis differs considerably depending on its botanical origin, all examined types of propolis revealed a strong antibacterial activity. There are some differences in the antibacterial activity of some types of propolis, which are due to the type of honey bee that gathered it. E.g. Poplar propolis gathered by by Apis mellifera caucasica had a higher antibacterial activity than the one gathered by Apis mellifera anatolica and Apis mellifera carnica.

Here is a list with what has been studied by now, and which responded well to the treatment with propolis:

Gram-positive bacteria
Bacillus cereus, Bacillus mesentericus, Corynebacterium spp., Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Diplococcus pneumonae, Enterococcus spp., Mycobacteria sp., Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus: critecus epidermis faecalis mutans, pyogenes, viridans, sobrinus, Micrococcus luteus

Gram negative bacteria
Branhamella catarrhalis, E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, Klebsiella ozaemae, Klesbsiella pneumonae, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella: choleraesuis, dublin, enteritidis, exneri, gallinarum, pullorum, typhimurium, paratyphi-A, paratyphi-B, typh;i Shigella: dysinteriae, sonnei

Aspergilus sp., Candida: albicans, guiliermondi, parapsilosis, tropicalis; Cryptococcus sp., Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma encapsulatum, Madurella mycetomi, Microsporum: audoinini, canis, cepleo, distortum, ferrugeneum, gypseum; Piedra hortae, Phialophora jeanselmei, Saccharomyces sp. , Trichophyton: sp., mentagrophytes, rubrum, Trichosporon cutaneum

Adenovirus, Coronavirus, Herpes symplex, Influenca A and B virus, Newcastle disease virus, Polio virus, Vaccinia, Rotavirus; Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, Coronar virus

Cholomonas paramecium, Eimeria: magna, media, perforans; Giardia lambia, Giardia duodenalis, Trichomonas vaginalis, Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma evansi.

Although in previous studies it was claimed that Listeria monocytogenes is not sensitive to propolis, recent works revealed significant antibacterial activity.

With the increasing of antibiotic resistance in the last years there is a considerable interest of hospitals in propolis as an antibacterial agent.

The antibacterial effect of propolis is bactericidal, that means bacteria-killing, and it does that by inhibiting their mobility. What it is very interesting is that each propolis type has different antibacterial substances.

The antibiotic activity doesn’t decrease in time!
Even more interesting is that though it is considered that biological activity decreases in time, it was found that solution propolis in ethanol, stored for 10 to 15 years, induces an increase of antibacterial activity!

Antifungal activity

Poplar propolis is the bee product with the highest antifungal activity as tested with 40 yeast strains of Candida
albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei, and Trichosporon spp.

Recent research on propolis have shown fungicide effects on juice spoilage fungi Candida famata, C. glabrata, C. kefyr, C. pelliculosa, C. parapsilosis and Pichia ohmeri.

Antivirus activity

Propolis kills the fungi and also the viruses, while the growth of the latter is also inhibited (according to Marcucci MC).  Propolis acts against the influenza virus. This activity is found in propolis of different origin and especially in Brazilian green propolis.

Antiparasite activity

Propolis acts against a number of parasites. Thus, it could act as a protective agent against intestinal parasites, e.g. against S. mansoni and against Giardia duodenalis trophozoites. Propolis is recommended as a dietary supplement to prevent them.


As a dietary supplement, propolis is available in products for the protection of health and prevention of diseases. It can also be found in biopharmaceuticals, and as a constituent of (bio)cosmetics. While it cannot be found under the label “antibiotic”, we can use it raw, in extracts or tinctures to heal ourselves from unwanted microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites. Find an apitherapist for a more professional advice.

Among the recent studies:

• Antibacterial effect of triantibiotic mixture, chlorhexidine gel, and two natural materials Propolis and Aloe vera against Enterococcus faecalis: An ex vivo study, Bazvand L et al, July 2014;

• Antibacterial activity of a cardanol from Thai Apis mellifera propolis, by Boonsai P et al, Feb 2014;

• A Comparison between Antibacterial Activity of Propolis and Aloe vera on Enterococcus faecalis (an In Vitro Study), by Ehsani M et al, 2013

• Chemical and botanical characterization of Chilean propolis and biological activity on cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, by Leticia Barrientos et al, 2013

• Omani propolis: chemical profiling, antibacterial activity and new propolis plant sources, by Milena Popova et al, 2013

• The antibacterial effect of ethanol extract of polish propolis on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli isolated from saliva, by Dziedzic A, March 2013

• Antimicrobial and antiproliferative activities of stingless bee Melipona scutellaris geopropolis by da Cunha MG et al, Jan 2013;

• In vitro antimicrobial activity and biocompatibility of propolis containing nanohydroxyapatite, Grenho L et al, march 2015;

• Antibacterial activity and inhibition of adherence of Streptococcus mutans by propolis electrospun fibers, by Asawahame C et al, Feb 2015;

• Anti-staphylococcal activity of C-methyl flavanones from propolis of Australian stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) and fruit resins of Corymbia torelliana (Myrtaceae) by Massaro CF et al, June 2014;

• Identification of the phenolic compounds contributing to antibacterialactivity in ethanol extracts of Brazilian red propolis, by Inui S, March 2014;

• Susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolates topropolis extract alone or in combination with antimicrobial drugs, by Wojtyczka RD et al, 2013;

• Propolis induced antibacterial activity and other technical properties of cotton textiles, by Sharaf S et al, 2013;

• Antimicrobial activity of Brazilian propolis extracts against rumen bacteria in vitro, by de Aguiar SC et al, 2013 Oct


¹ OZCAN, M; SAGDIC, O; OZKAN, G (2004) Antibacterial effects of Turkish pollen and propolis extracts at different concentrations 171 464. Archiv fur Lebensmittelhygiene 55 (2): 39-40.

YANG, H Y; CHANG, C M; CHEN, Y W; CHOU, C C (2006) Inhibitory effect of propolis extract on the growth
of Listeria monocytogenes and the mutagenicity of 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide. Journal of the Science of
Food and Agriculture 86 (6): 937-943.

Activity of the Honeybee Products Against Candida spp. and Trichosporon spp. Journal of Medicinal
Food 14 (1-2): 128-134.

MARCUCCI, M C (1995) Propolis: chemical composition, biological properties and therapeutic activity.
Apidologie 26: 83-99.

virus activity of propolis in vitro and its efficacy against influenza infection in mice. Antivir
Chem Chemother 19: 7-13.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014

“bacteria” picture credit Carmela Tortajada Serra under CC via flickr.com

Laura Bujor

Laura Bujor is the author and founder of HealthyWithHoney.com. She built this website as a personal journey to discover the power of honey and share it with the world. She learned directly from beekeepers and took a course in apitherapy. From a hobby, honey and apitherapy turned into a professional career. You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and X.

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