Is propolis the drug of the future in the fight against rhinitis?

DAs the years go by, more and more people are struggling with allergic rhinitis. Permanent rhinorrhoea, sneezing or nasal congestion caused by inflammation of nasal mucosa are the reasons of common use of variety of pharmacological substances which are available in the drug stores. None of the groups of medicines which are currently used during treatment of rhinitis – steroids, antihistamines, antileukotrienes, immunotherapy etc., doesn’t cure it completely, so search for something more effective is still in process.

Turkish scientists were determined to investigate if propolis has a chance to revolutionize and modify currently existing rhinitis’ treatment guidelines. Researchers decided to evaluate potential antiallergic activity of propolis on allergic rhinitis using an ovalbumin-induced rat model.

Propolis is pharmacologically active substance, which contains flavonoids, phenolic acid and their esters, characterized by its antiinflamtory and immunomodulatory effects.

First phase of the study remain for 14 days. 30 rats were selected for the study, 28 of them recived daily doses of ovalbumin in order to become sensitize, 2 remaining rats were assigned to the sham group. In the second phase of the experiment, rats were divided into 5 groups which recived respectively: intranasal mometasone furoate group (n:6), oral ketotifen group (n:6), intranasal propolis group (n:6), oral propolis group (n:6) and control group – intranasal saline (n:4). They were cautiously monitored for the next 21 days.

During the second phase of the study, assessment of severity of the symptoms (nasal irritation, sneezing and nasal secretion) was performed 5 times. Each evaluation was made by scientific investigator who was blinded to experimental groups. Severity of each symptom was graded in a 0-3 point scale. Assessment of changes in mucosal histology was also performed.

In 2016, in American Journal of Otolaryngology scientists presented results of their research, which has showed that there was a significant decrease in ciliary loss, inflammation, increase in goblet cells, vascular proliferation, eosinophil count and symptoms scores 1–4 in rats receiving systemic propolis, similar to those receiving mometasone furoate and ketotifen (p < 0.05). In the group with topical applied propolis, results were less satisfactory in compare to the ones achieved with systemic usage.

To conclude, the study had shown that systemic usage of propolis has the chance to become the next treatment option in the fight against allergic rhinitis. It was confirmed that it has strong antinflamatory effect and the decrease in severity of the symptoms caused by it lasts for long-period of time. Anyhow, more studies need to be performed to make propolis approved for usage in clinical practice.

Written by: Karolina Lewczuk, Magdalena Rejmak, Katarzyna Kubiak

1.Yasar M, Savranlar Y, Karaman H, Sagit M, Silici S, Ozcan I. Effects of propolis in an experimental rat model of allergic rhinitis. Am J Otolaryngol. 2016 Jul-Aug;37(4):287-93. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2016.03.007. Epub 2016 Apr 2.
2. Tran NP, Vickery J, Blaiss MS. Management of rhinitis: allergic and non-allergic. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2011 Jul;3(3):148-56. doi: 10.4168/aair.2011.3.3.148. Epub 2011 May 20.

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