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Balderrama Carmona, A.P. Mexican Propolis. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 11 December 2023).
Balderrama Carmona AP. Mexican Propolis. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 11, 2023.
Balderrama Carmona, Ana Paola. "Mexican Propolis" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 11, 2023).
Balderrama Carmona, A.P.(2021, December 12). Mexican Propolis. In Encyclopedia.
Balderrama Carmona, Ana Paola. "Mexican Propolis." Encyclopedia. Web. 12 December, 2021.
Mexican Propolis

Propolis is a resinous substance collected by bees from plants and its natural product is available as a safe therapeutic option easily administered orally and readily available as a natural supplement and functional food.

Propolis Beekeping regions of Mexico Chemical compounds in propolis

1. Introduction

The etymology of the word “propolis” comes from the Greek “pro” (in defense of) and “polis” (city/community), which defines this word as a “natural product in defense of the community” [1]. Examples and evidence of ancient use of propolis (“black wax” or “balsam”) for therapeutic purposes are found in biblical records [2]. Use by ancient civilizations aimed different purposes such as embalming antiputrefactive (Egyptians) and medical (Greek and Roman) and antipyretic agent (Incas) [3]. In the 17th century, propolis became popular in Europe for its antimicrobial activity, so London pharmacopeias listed it on the official drug list [2].
In 1908, the first scientific work [4] appeared on the chemical properties and composition of propolis, indexed in the Chemical Abstracts. In 1968, the summary of the first patent, from Romania, appeared in Chemical Abstracts, using propolis for the production of bath lotions (RO 48101) [5]. During wars (South Africa, Russia), propolis was widely used as a wound healing agent and also for tuberculosis treatment. In the 1980s, with the knowledge of its pharmacological properties, propolis began to be industrially incorporated into food and pharmaceutical products (topical applications) as a disease preventative [6].
Mexican propolis is a product that has been used since ancient times and has maintained its appeal status through the years due to its medicinal properties. Since pre-Hispanic times, beekeeping was as important as the cultivation of corn, considering honey as an essential food product for the Maya culture. In Puebla, Mexico, the Nahua community continues to market products such as sweets, eye drops, soap, shampoo, and other cosmetic products whose main ingredients are honey, pollen, and propolis [7]. However, the first scientific studies on Mexican propolis did not begin until the early 2000s. Scientific research is motivated by the great potential and positioning of propolis. In 2017, to establish the quality standards of Mexican propolis, the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Feeding established the Official Mexican Standard for the Production and Specifications of Propolis (NOM-003-SAG/GAN-2017-Propolis, production and specifications for its processing) [8].

2. Propolis Production in Mexico

There is no official information on crude propolis trade. Mexico is among the primary honey producers worldwide and ranks the eighth in exports, being Germany its leading importer. However, Mexico is not among the exporting countries of propolis globally, and the leading exporters of this product are China, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Chile, Uruguay, and Canada [9]
Mexico does not have reliable statistics indicating propolis production, nor does it have updated patents on this beekeeping product. In all regions of Mexico, propolis production is potential, and the propolis producing regions are classified as follows: the Northern Region, Pacific Coast Region, Gulf Region, Altiplano Region, and Peninsula of Yucatán. Compared to the other regions, the Peninsula of Yucatan is more organized, producing 6 tons per year of propolis [10].

3. Propolis: Color, Botanical Sources, and Chemical Composition

The coloration of propolis will depend on the plant’s origin and its ecosystem since bees collect substances from plants. For example, the Brazilian green propolis is derived mainly from the species Baccharis dracunculifolia. On the other hand, in the Gulf Region of Mexico, the majority of propolis found is from the green variety, unlike the northern region, where the ecosystem is more desertic than the other regions, and mesquite (Prosopis laevigata) is a predominant vegetable source [11]. Each plant species has its secondary metabolites responsible for its biological activities, and propolis contains the metabolites of the plant that will define its biological activity. In Mexico, the most remarkable locations with diversity of tropical vegetation are in the Gulf and Pacific Coasts of the country; for this reason, a diversity of propolis colors is seen (chestnut-green, red, yellow-red, dark yellow, dun, or black) [10].
In Mexico, among the botanical sources described for red propolis, in the Gulf, Pacific Coast, and Peninsula of Yucatan regions are Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg, Dalbergia glabraCordia alliodoraCardiospermum halicacabumDombeya wallichiiAntigonon leptopusSapindus saponaria, and Dalbergia species [12][13][14]. Valencia et al. [15] refer to brown-green-ocher (chestnut-green) propolis that differs in composition from the Brazilian green propolis, despite the similar color-based nomenclature. Distinctive chemical compounds are present due to botanical sources such as Encelia farinosaAmbrosia deltoideaAmbrosia ambrosioidesBursera laxifloraPopulus fremontii S. Prosopis laevigata, and Acacia greggii. However, this propolis contains compounds also found in other types of propolis, such as gallic acid, cinnamic acid, p-coumaric acid, naringenin, quercetin, luteolin, kaempferol, apigenin, pinocembrin, pinobanksin 3-acetate, CAPE, chrysin, galangin, acacetin, and pinostrobin [11].


  1. Ghisalberti, L.E. Propolis: A review. Bee World 1979, 60, 59–84.
  2. Castaldo, S.; Capasso, F. Propolis, an old remedy used in modern medicine. Fitoterapia 2002, 73, S1–S6.
  3. Crane, E. Bee Products; Springer: Boston, MA, USA; Tel Aviv, Israel, 1996; ISBN 9780123741448.
  4. Helfenberg, K.D. The analysis of beeswax and propolis. Chem. Ztg. 1908, 2, 987–988.
  5. Sosnowski, Z.M. Method for Extracting Propolis and Water Soluble Dry Propols Powder. U.S. Patent 4,382,886, 10 May 1983.
  6. Pereira, D.S.; Iberê, C.; Freitas, A.; Freitas, M.O.; Berg, J.; Agra, R. Histórico e principais usos da própolis apícola. Agropecuária CIientífica No Semi-Árido 2015, 11, 1–21.
  7. Quezada-Euán, J.J.G. The Past, Present, and Future of Meliponiculture in Mexico. Stingless Bees Mex. 2018, 243–269.
  8. Norma Mexicana. Propóleos, Producción y Especificaciones para su Procesamiento. SAGARPA, NOM-003-SAG/GAN-2017. Mexico. 2017. Available online: (accessed on 15 August 2021).
  9. Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera (SIAP). Alemania Demanda el 50% de las Exportaciones Mexicanas de miel. Available online: (accessed on 15 August 2021).
  10. México. Atlas Nacional de las Abejas y Derivados Apícolas, Instituto Nacional de Geografía y Estadística; Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI): Aguascalientes, Mexico, 2020. Available online: (accessed on 15 August 2021).
  11. Vargas Sánchez, R.D.; Martínez Benavidez, E.; Hernández, J.; Torrescano Urrutia, G.R.; Sánchez Escalante, A. Effect of physicochemical properties and phenolic compounds of bifloral propolis on antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity. Nova Sci. 2020, 12.
  12. Boisard, S.; Huynh, T.H.T.; Escalante-Erosa, F.; Hernández-Chavez, L.I.; Peña-Rodríguez, L.M.; Richomme, P. Unusual chemical composition of a Mexican propolis collected in Quintana Roo, Mexico. J. Apic. Res. 2016, 54, 350–357.
  13. Guzmán-Gutiérrez, S.L.; Nieto-Camacho, A.; Castillo-Arellano, J.I.; Huerta-Salazar, E.; Hernández-Pasteur, G.; Silva-Miranda, M.; ello-Nájera, O.A.; Sepúlveda-Robles, O.; Espitia, C.I.; Reyes-Chilpa, R. Mexican propolis: A source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and isolation of a novel chalcone and ε-caprolactone derivative. Molecules 2018, 23, 334.
  14. Valencia, D.; Alday, E.; Robles-Zepeda, R.; Garibay-Escobar, A.; Galvez-Ruiz, J.C.; Salas-Reyes, M.; Jiménez-Estrada, M.; Velazquez-Contreras, E.; Hernandez, J.; Velazquez, C. Seasonal effect on chemical composition and biological activities of Sonoran propolis. Food Chem. 2012, 131, 645–651.
  15. Bankova, V.; Trusheva, B.; Popova, M. Propolis extraction methods: A review. J. Apic. Res. 2021, 1–10.
Subjects: Area Studies; Allergy
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