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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (2): 114-125.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.01.008

• Systematic Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Potential effects of propolis and honey in COVID-19 prevention and treatment: A systematic review of in silico and clinical studies

Witoo Dilokthornsakul, Ramanya Kosiyaporn, Rattanamanee Wuttipongwaragon, Piyameth Dilokthornsakul   

  1. Center of Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Naresuan University, Mueang, Phitsanulok 65000, Thailand
  • Received:2021-08-09 Accepted:2022-01-10 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2022-01-31
  • Contact: Piyameth Dilokthornsakul; E-mail address:

Propolis and honey have been studied as alternative treatments for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, no study has yet summarized the full body of evidence for the use of propolis and honey in COVID-19 prevention and treatment.

This study systematically reviews the mechanisms of propolis and honey against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and current evidence for the use of propolis and honey in COVID-19 prevention and treatment.

Search strategy
A systematic search was conducted of electronic databases including PubMed, Scopus, ScienceDirect, and Cochrane Library from their inceptions to April 2021.

Inclusion criteria
Studies that evaluated the effect of propolis or bee products against SARS-CoV-2 using in silico methods, clinical studies, case reports and case series were included.

Data extraction and analysis
A standardized data extraction form was used, and data were extracted by two independent reviewers. Narrative synthesis was used to summarize study results concerning the use of propolis or honey in COVID-19 prevention and treatment and their potential mechanisms of action against SARS-CoV-2.

A total of 15 studies were included. Nine studies were in silico studies, two studies were case reports, one study was a case series, and three studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). In silico studies, using molecular docking methods, showed that compounds in propolis could interact with several target proteins of SARS-CoV-2, including angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, the main protease enzyme, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and spike protein. Propolis may have a positive effect for clinical improvement in mild and moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients, according to case reports and case series. The included RCTs indicated that propolis or honey could probably improve clinical symptoms and decrease viral clearance time when they were used as adjuvant therapy to standard of care.

In silico studies showed that compounds from propolis could interact with target proteins of SARS-CoV-2, interfering with viral entry and viral RNA replication, while clinical studies revealed that propolis and honey could probably improve clinical COVID-19 symptoms and decrease viral clearance time. However, clinical evidence is limited by the small number of studies and small sample sizes. Future clinical studies are warranted.

Key words: Propolis, Honey, Coronavirus disease 2019, Systematic review

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