Its properties and applications in the pharmaceutical industry and in the production of dietary supplements

Green propolis from Brazil has quickly become very popular among pharmaceutical manufacturers and dietary supplement producers. This is not a temporary fad, but a trend with solid foundations, as this raw material owes its popularity to its proven laboratory-tested therapeutic properties.

What is green propolis and which of its properties make it such an attractive ingredient in the mentioned products?

What is green propolis?

Green propolis is a variety of propolis produced by bees using the resin of Baccharis dracunculifolia, a plant species growing in the tropical forests of Brazil. This resin gives the raw material its characteristic greenish color, a very intense distinct smell, and a sharp taste – which becomes burning after prolonged chewing. Moreover, it has numerous properties that we will analyze later in the article.

Let’s start with the definition of propolis itself. Propolis (bee glue) is a bee product, a rich mixture of resinous organic compounds collected by bees from the bark, shoots, and buds of certain plants, as well as wax, which is a product of the bee’s organism. It is a well-known ingredient in pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, valued for its unique properties, including antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Propolis has a complex chemical composition, which can vary significantly depending on the factors that influenced the bees during the season. Among these factors, the most important is, of course, the species composition of the vegetation available to the bees in a given area.

Green propolis, due to its specific origin, is not only easily recognizable but also has a unique chemical composition, distinguished by, among other things, a high content of polyphenols.

Among the components typical for green propolis, it is worth mentioning: artepillin C, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and kaempferol.

These components have made green propolis an extremely valuable and sought-after medicinal raw material on the market.

What are the properties of green propolis?

Scientific research, the amount of which on propolis in general – and especially on green propolis – has significantly increased in recent years, confirms the following effects:

  • Antibacterial and antimicrobial – among others against such bacterial species as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, and Kocuria rhizophila, as well as Candida fungi;
  • Prevents oral diseases – green propolis can prevent dental caries related to the presence of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in the oral cavity, which is one of the factors contributing to tooth decay;
  • Exhibits anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects;
  • Accelerates the healing of wounds and ulcers;
  • Used as an ingredient in medicines reducing swelling and congestion of the mucous membrane – syrups and effervescent tablets for colds, coughs, or flu, in which honey is often also included;
  • Supports brain activity – flavonoids present in green propolis protect against oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals and show neuroprotective abilities against ischemic neuronal damage and cell death;
  • Studies – both in vitro and in vivo – confirm the benefits of its use in preventing retinal damage. This is related to the neuroprotective action of Brazilian propolis, which can inhibit oxidative stress processes;
  • Proven to protect nerve cells from damage, providing effective, complementary anticancer therapy and chemopreventive action;
  • Anticancer – counteracts, among others, laryngeal and prostate cancer;
  • Finds application in drugs used for diabetic complications;
  • The use of green propolis brings benefits in the treatment of circulatory disorders and heart diseases.

Green propolis: significance for the pharmaceutical industry

Thanks to its long history in traditional medicine, propolis, and particularly green propolis, has been an ingredient in numerous pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements for decades.

Green propolis also responds to consumer preferences and needs, who currently place a great emphasis on health and well-being, seeking natural remedies and preparations to increase immunity.

From publicly available market research, it is evident that:

    • Between 2016 and 2021, 271 products containing green propolis appeared in Europe, targeting all age groups;
    • A rapid increase in the number of such products on the market is observed: while 29 were introduced in 2018, in 2020 – already 41. The growth of the vitamins and dietary supplements market is unquestionable. To create more innovative products that meet current consumer expectations, the sector has recently paid particular attention to propolis, including green propolis.


Kazuo Shimizu, Hitoshi Ashida, Yukinaga Matsuura i Kazuki Kanazawa Antioxidative bioavailability of artepillin C in Brazilian propolis, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2004

Cheung KW, Sze DM, Chan WK, Deng RX, Tu W, Chan GC. Brazilian green propolis and its constituent, Artepillin C inhibits allogeneic activated human CD4 T cells expansion and activation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011

Szliszka E, Zydowicz G, Janoszka B, Dobosz C, Kowalczyk-Ziomek G, Krol W. Ethanolic extract of Brazilian green propolis sensitizes prostate cancer cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Int J Oncol. 2011

Afsharpour F, Javadi M, Hashemipour S, Koushan Y, Haghighian HK. Propolis supplementation improves glycemic and antioxidant status in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2019

Inokuchi Y, Shimazawa M, Nakajima Y, Suemori S, Mishima S, Hara H. Brazilian green propolis protects against retinal damage in vitro and in vivo. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006

Chiu HF, Han YC, Shen YC, Golovinskaia O, Venkatakrishnan K, Wang CK. Chemopreventive and Chemotherapeutic Effect of Propolis and Its Constituents: A Mini-review. J Cancer Prev. 2020

Yuan W, Chang H, Liu X, Wang S, Liu H, Xuan H. Brazilian Green Propolis Inhibits Ox-LDL-Stimulated Oxidative Stress in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells Partly through PI3K/Akt/mTOR-Mediated Nrf2/HO-1 Pathway. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019

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