In a nutshell

Little is known about the effects of propolis on pregnant women but the advice is to be cautious and to avoid products containing propolis altogether, if you have allergies to pollen or bee products

The expert view

Bee propolis is something of a buzzword in beauty and natural remedies at the moment. It is made from a sticky resin that honeybees collect from bark and tree leaves and combine with pollen, nectar and wax. This makes a substance which the bees use for sterilising the hive and protecting it against infections.

As a natural remedy, bee propolis is said to ward off bacteria and strengthen your immune system, and as such has become something of a hero product in the beauty industry. It is used in skin care to treat anything from dermatitis to acne, and medicinally to help soothe sore throats and ulcers. You can buy it as a cream or lotion, or in tablet or liquid form.

Generally, as long as you do not have a known or existing allergy, bee and honey products are usually considered safe to use during pregnancy, and if you are taking propolis as a lozenge or tablet, any risk of bacteria would be killed off by your stomach acid, anyway.

However, on the basis there is little research on propolis use by expectant mums, MFM's expert family GP Dr Philippa Kaye suggests a cautious approach: "While honey and honey products are safe in pregnancy, little is known about propolis and its effect during pregnancy, so it may be best to be safe and avoid."

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Magda Ibrahim is a freelance writer who has written for publications including The Times and Sunday Times, The Sun, and the London Evening Standard, as well for MadeForMums.