Allergic Inflammation: How Propolis and Its Flavonoids Can Help

In the fight against chronic allergies, propolis and its flavonoids are powerful natural allies. The potential sticky savior, derived from the resinous substance produced by bees, has been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate symptoms associated with allergic reactions.

Does propolis really stack up to its promises, or is it just wishful thinking? And how can you target the underlying cause of chronic allergic inflammation? Let's dive in.

Learn more about our approach to seasonal allergies and food allergies. 

What is Allergic Inflammation?

Common allergy symptoms can all be traced back to allergic inflammation. An allergic reaction is the body's response to a perceived threat, such as pollen or animal dander, and can manifest in a variety of ways including sneezing, itching, hives, and more. While allergic inflammation serves as a protective mechanism for the body against harmful substances, it's also a source of discomfort, and even serious health complications after allergen exposure.

Allergic inflammation is kind of a necessary evil in terms of our body's immune responses. On one hand, it helps protect us from potential harm by recognizing and attacking foreign substances. But on the other hand, it can also lead to chronic inflammatory conditions in the immune system if not properly regulated.

The Conventional Treatment for Allergies & Inflammation

Conventional treatments include antihistamines to block the effects of histamine (though not histamine release), or steroids to calm immune activation in response to allergen exposure. These treatments provide relief, but many people are turning to natural solutions to manage their allergies.

Side effects of antihistamines and steroids, and a lack of perceived effectiveness, plus a high cost of biologic therapies are just a few drawbacks of the conventional approach (1).

Related: Do Allergies Trigger Autoimmune Disease?

The Role of Propolis in Allergic Inflammation

Propolis is a complex mixture of bee saliva, beeswax, and substances collected from plants, such as tree buds and sap flows. Also known as "bee glue" propolis is a natural resin-like compound that bees use to strengthen and protect their hives (2).

It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties (1), making it a promising natural remedy for a wide range of health issues, including allergic inflammation.

Propolis contains flavonoids, which are plant compounds known for their anti-inflammatory effects, among others. Flavonoids can inhibit the production of histamine, the main chemical responsible for triggering allergy symptoms (3). Flavonoids can also prevent the activation of immune cells that contribute to allergic inflammation.

Pediatric Asthma: Explore the Functional Medicine Approach

Flavonoids in Propolis

Flavonoids found in propolis have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of common allergies such as hay fever, eczema, and asthma. Propolis contains varying amounts of several flavonoids that may be responsible for alleviating allergy symptoms, including:

  • chrysin
  • kaempferol
  • galangin
  • pinocembrin
  • cinnamic acid derivatives

Different samples of propolis may not contain all these flavonoids because of the natural variation in composition. They work by inhibiting the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals, thus alleviating symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin irritation.

Read: Time to Breathe Easier—Natural Allergy Relief Tips

How Propolis Flavonoids Impact Allergic Inflammation

Flavonoids have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In the context of allergic inflammation, flavonoids can help by (1,4): 

  1. Inhibiting the release of histamine by mast cells, a key mediator of allergic reactions
  2. Reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-4 and interleukin-13
  3. Modulating the immune system's response to allergens, preventing an overreaction
  4. Protecting cells from oxidative stress, which can exacerbate allergic inflammation

Read: The Warning Signs of Chronic Inflammation

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Efficacy of Propolis for Allergies

Numerous studies have investigated the potential of propolis and its flavonoids in managing allergic inflammation. For example:

  • Propolis produced by Apis mellifera caucasia honeybees was more effective than a common steroid medication and an antihistamine to improve hay fever and seasonal allergy symptoms, also known as allergic rhinitis (5). 
  • Propolis extract was able to inhibit pulmonary inflammation and mucus production as well as to reduce IL-5 and eosinophils (which cause swelling) in one animal study (6). 
  • Propolis treatment was more effective than placebo to reduce asthma symptoms such as cough, dyspnea, wheezing, and nocturnal attacks (7). 

These studies, among others, provide compelling evidence for the use of propolis and its flavonoids in managing allergic inflammation responsible for symptoms associated with asthma, seasonal allergies, and even atopic dermatitis.

How to Incorporate Propolis into Your Daily Wellness Routine

If you’re looking to harness the anti-allergic properties of propolis, there are several ways to incorporate it into your daily wellness routine:

  1. Propolis supplements: Look for high-quality propolis supplements in the form of capsules, tablets, or tinctures. Follow the recommended dosage on the product label.
  2. Propolis throat spray: A propolis throat spray can help soothe irritated throats and provide relief from allergic symptoms affecting the respiratory tract.
  3. Propolis-enriched honey: Add a spoonful of propolis-enriched honey to your tea or consume it directly for a tasty and beneficial treat.
  4. Propolis ointment: Apply a propolis-based ointment to skin areas affected by allergic reactions, such as rashes or hives, for localized relief.

As with any new supplement or natural remedy, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before adding propolis to your wellness routine, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications.

Some people may be allergic to propolis, so it’s important to do a patch test before using it topically. Infants under 1 year old should never be given honey, as this can cause serious illness as a result of the botulinum toxin.

The Importance of Functional Medicine for Allergic Inflammation

Allergic inflammation can significantly impact one’s quality of life, causing discomfort and limiting daily activities. While conventional treatments have their place, a holistic approach gives you the insight to target allergy symptoms at the root cause. 

Treating allergies or asthma requires personalized treatment options including, but not limited to:

  • In-depth evaluation by a certified integrative provider
  • Holistic nutrition and dietary counseling
  • Access to a comprehensive, integrative team — Holistic Nutritionist, Acupuncturist, CranioSacral Therapist, and Integrative Health Coach
  • IV vitamin therapy
  • Personalized nutraceutical and supplement matching

The following tests may also help determine the root cause of your allergy or asthma symptoms: 

  • Food allergy panels/food sensitivity testing (ALCAT)
  • Environmental allergy panels
  • Nutritional deficiency testing
  • Histamine Intolerance
  • Fructosamine Intolerance

By leveraging the anti-allergic properties of natural solutions like propolis, and other functional therapies, you can take a proactive step towards supporting your body’s defenses against allergic inflammation. The power to enhance your well-being lies in making informed choices and doing so with long-term healing in mind.


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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
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