When it comes to reducing the potential negative effects of toxic chemicals like endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and allergens, my general rule is avoidance first.

Instead of ingesting all of those toxicants and then trying to “detox” from them, we try to avoid them in the first place as much as we can.

BUT, as you already know, we can’t avoid them completely. Many of these chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment and there are a lot of exposures we just don’t have any control over…

And that’s where “detox” support comes into play.

In this article, I’m sharing one natural resource that may be able to give your body a little assistance detoxing the substances we can’t avoid, while also making certain toxic chemicals less toxic.

I’m talking about bee propolis! 🐝

Bee propolis is a substance that bees make (it’s different from honey). We’ll talk more about what it actually is in a minute.

As I dove into the research on the potential for bee propolis to not only benefit overall health and longevity but specifically for detoxification support and resilience against environmental toxins, I was honestly a bit blown away.

I started wondering: why aren’t more people talking about this?! 

As you’ll see in a moment, there’s a lot of promising research on the topic—from decreasing the toxicity of BPA, to perhaps helping increase fertility, to counteracting the carcinogens in our environment, and more.

Not only that, but propolis is generally considered non-toxic and safe, so there is very low risk for adults and kids of all ages.

That said, here are a few common sense disclaimers before we dive in:

  • It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting a new supplement. 
  • When it comes to propolis, you may want to take caution if you have a bleeding disorder or a severe allergy to bees, honey, or pollen.
  • You should not expect propolis to cure any diseases, or be some sort of “fix-all” for all of your ailments. Propolis has a ton of interesting and exciting potential in a lot of ways, but it shouldn’t replace a more holistic healthy lifestyle and/or targeted medicine. If you find the research on bee propolis compelling, it should be used alongside other healing modalities, not in place of them.

Let’s get into it.

This guide contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. As always, we only make recommendations that are genuine.

Propolis: The Immune System of the Beehive

If you don’t know what propolis is, it’s like “bee glue.” It’s a compound that bees make out of tree sap. Bees line their hives with it to help prevent the growth of fungus, microbes, and other foreign invaders. (That’s your first clue into what propolis can do for us!)

Propolis is one of those ancient remedies that humans have been using for thousands of years. It’s said that the Greeks used it to treat abscesses, the Assyrians put it on wounds and tumors for disinfection and healing support, and the Egyptians used it to embalm mummies.

Propolis is made up of over 500(!) different compounds. It is super rich in antioxidants, specifically polyphenols. It also contains other health-promoting compounds, including vitamins A, C, and E, amino acids, potassium, and magnesium.

Because of this, propolis (and other polyphenol-rich foods) has been shown to play a beneficial role in long-term health in a wide variety of ways, including:

I know that kind of sounds like a magical “fix-all” product. And on one hand, it kind of is! (In fact, one group of researchers literally called it a “magical remedy” in their published paper!)

But on the other hand, it’s of course crucial to keep in mind that getting a lot of polyphenols in your diet is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle. It’s not like you can just get crappy sleep and eat junk food all day and then down a shot of propolis and be done with it!

Taking propolis supplements is not going to cure all your ails all on it’s own, and you should not expect it to. But that doesn’t mean I’m not very interested and excited about how it can fit within a healthy lifestyle!

How Bee Propolis May Help With Environmental Toxin Exposure

Now that you know what propolis actually is and how it can aid in overall health more generally, let’s talk specifically about toxic chemicals.

Here are 5 ways propolis may help your body’s resilience against the environmental toxins you can’t avoid:

1. Supports General Detoxification

A 2021 review looked at over 66 studies on propolis and found detoxification to be the most prominent theme among them. The review revealed compelling evidence of propolis’ therapeutic effects in aiding the body’s detoxification processes, particularly in response to chemical and radiation toxicity.

Central to these effects are propolis’ anti-inflammatory properties. Propolis was found to modulate inflammatory and oxidative responses by reducing the expression of key markers while simultaneously enhancing and maintaining antioxidant parameters (such as glutathione, the “master antioxidant” that is essential for proper liver detoxification).

Additionally, propolis was shown to:

  • Downregulate the expression of genes associated with cell death.
  • Preserve cell membrane integrity. (In other words, it helps keep the outer layer of cells strong and undamaged, which stops cells from changing shape or structure when they are exposed to harmful substances).

Help for your Detox Organs: Liver, Kidneys, and Bowels

We can further narrow things down and look at how propolis may be able to help with each of the “detox pathways” in our body:

Liver: You already know that the liver is one of our most important body parts when it comes to flushing out toxic chemicals.

Propolis has been shown to protect liver tissue from various types of liver lesions and fatty liver disease, help with liver disorders (such as acute liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma), and reduce oxidative stress in liver tissue and plasma.

(Oxidative stress is an imbalance in your body when there are too many harmful molecules—free radicals—and not enough antioxidants to neutralize them, hindering detoxification.)

Kidneys: Similarly, propolis has been found to reduce oxidative stress in the kidneys as well. It’s also been found to improve renal tissue damage and general renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Your kidneys naturally detox your body by filtering waste and toxics from your blood, so healthy and optimized kidney function (along with proper hydration!) is essential for resilience against environmental toxins.

Bowels: Going to the bathroom regularly is another essential aspect of detoxification. Propolis has been shown to support an optimal gut microbiome by stopping harmful bacteria from growing and sticking to the cells in the gut.

Furthermore, some research has even found it to be potentially beneficial in specific, chronic GI disorders, including ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal cancers, and gastric ulcers.

2. Helps Counteract the Carcinogens You Can’t Avoid

The statistics surrounding cancer are getting worrisome. Rates of cancer in young people are going up, and the CDC says that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

Although there are certainly many pieces to this puzzle, it can’t be denied that the thousands of chemicals in our environment are at least partly to blame.

So… in addition to avoiding carcinogens when we can (like using non-aerosol personal care products, for example), we can take steps to mitigate the effects of cancer-causing substances we can’t avoid… including taking propolis!

Propolis has been found in research to have “anti-cancer” effects by inhibiting cancer cell multiplication while simultaneously improving the body’s ability to properly kill cancer cells and tumors.

Scientists have found propolis to play a role in fighting breast, colon, prostate, oral, skin cancer, and more.

Propolis has also been found to have synergistic effects when combined with other anti-cancer treatments and medications. That means that taking propolis alongside other cancer treatments may help make the primary treatment even more effective. It may also reduce the side effects of things like chemotherapy.

3. May be Protective Against Reproductive Toxicity (& possibly helping with infertility)

Just like carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are all around us. They include things like phthalates, bisphenols (like BPA), PFAS, and more.

These chemicals are certainly playing a role in our fertility crisis.

Although there’s not nearly as much research on this topic as there is on cancer, a few studies indicate that propolis may help provide some protection against the reproductive toxicity of EDCs and improve fertility outcomes for both females and males.

For example, in a 2010 paper, male mice were given triphenyltin (TPT), which is a known endocrine disruptor that decreases testosterone production.

When the mice were given TPT alone, they experienced numerous negative effects, including lower testosterone, lower semen quality, and more. But when they were also given propolis with the TPT, the propolis alleviated the toxic effects of the TPT.

Similar results have been repeated in multiple other animal studies.

There’s also been comparable research with BPA. For example, a 2017 study showed that when freshwater fish were given both propolis and BPA, the propolis counteracted the liver toxicity induced by the BPA. Another study found that propolis minimized the BPA-induced structural changes in the lungs of rats.

In other words: when you take propolis alongside endocrine disruptors, the propolis may cancel out some or all of the negative effects of the EDCs.

Another 2003 study looked at propolis’ effect on women with endometriosis who were struggling with infertility. Of the patients taking bee propolis, 60% became pregnant compared, 20% in the placebo group. It was a small study (only 40 people), but shows promise for further research!

Personally, I think propolis’ potential ability to “undo” the toxic effects of endocrine disruptors is one of the coolest things about it and I hope more research is done on this topic in the near future.

4. May Decrease Allergy & Asthma Symptoms from Environmental Pollutants

Now, as I already mentioned, those with pollen allergies or similar sensitivities may want to be careful the first time you try propolis or similar products like honey, bee pollen, or royal jelly. It’s not usually a problem, but it never hurts to be safe!

That said, if you can tolerate propolis, then it may be very helpful for respiratory symptoms. There’s actually a lot of research on this topic—propolis has been studied extensively for respiratory tract related illness treatment and symptom alleviation (in in vitro studies, animal models, and human clinical trials). 

Propolis has been shown to decrease the frequency of asthma attacks, increase lung function, and decrease inflammatory indicators in asthma patients.

It’s also been found to reduce various allergy-related factors, including pro-inflammatory cytokines and IgE antibody responses, decreasing allergic symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and running nose.

This is huge, considering that about a quarter of US adults and 19% of US children have seasonal allergies.

Propolis also has anti-fungal properties, which means it may help fight mold illness, along with other fungus-based conditions such as candida overgrowth.

This is super important for me, as someone with CIRS who is very sensitive to mold!

Although I wasn’t able to find any studies that specifically looked at using propolis to treat folks with CIRS, there is plenty of other research demonstrating propolis’ anti-fungal capabilities. This includes multiple studies showing propolis’ use as a natural preservative, displaying its ability to prevent mold growth in food.

Of course, in addition to having anti-fungal properties, it also may help with mold-related illness because of its anti-inflammatory abilities. Patients with CIRS and mold-related illness experience a heightened immune response to mold exposure, so propolis may be able to counterbalance that a bit!

And as I’ve already mentioned, it can also help with the more respiratory symptoms that mold-exposed folks may experience, too (like sneezing, throat irritation, nasal congestion, etc.).

Beekeeper's Naturals Review on TheFiltery.com

Okay, So Where Can You Buy Propolis Products? 

Want to get your hands on some propolis!?

My current favorite brand for a wide variety of propolis products is Beekeeper’s Naturals. They carry throat spray, lozenges, probiotics, cough syrup, and more.

To be honest, when I started digging into the research on propolis, I was kind of amazed at how promising this “magical remedy” is, not only for overall health and longevity, but for resilience against environmental toxins as well.

I should have expected as much from the bees. 🐝

If you found this article helpful and would like to stay updated on the latest guides, toxic chemical news, and more, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter!

As another reminder: nothing in this article is medical advice. You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement or changing your regimen, especially if you have a chronic condition or sensitivities. Neither The Filtery nor Beekeeper’s Naturals are liable for any negative reactions or health issues that may arise from consuming these products. Please keep in mind that these products aren’t meant to “cure” anything either, and they should not replace a more holistic healthy lifestyle and/or targeted medicine. “Bee” smart! 

About Abbie

Abbie Davidson is the Creator & Editor of The Filtery. With almost a decade of experience in sustainability, she researches and writes content with the aim of helping people minimize environmental toxins in an in-depth yet accessible way.

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