According to a pilot study published in Fertility and Sterility, a sticky bee product - propolis - may help women with endometriosis to reduce their pain and also increase their chances of conceiving.
In this study the pregnancy rate in the treatment group was an astonishing 60% - over nine months - compared to twenty percent in the placebo group; women in the treatment group took 500 mg of bee propolis twice daily in capsules and the control group took a placebo. The women all had mild endometriosis and primary infertility, they had all been trying to conceive for at least two years.
Propolis contains compounds that are known to act as 'aromatase inhibitors' which means that they block the action of estrogen in the body. This anti-estrogen activity may be the mechanism whereby propolis reduces endometriosis symptoms because endometriosis growth is triggered by estrogen.
Natural aromatase inhibitors have been the focus of many studies on cancer and may have a protective effect when protection against estrogen-dependent cancers is desired. A number of breast cancer drugs are primarily aromatase inhibitors and as such are very powerful inhibitors of estrogen. Propolis is also a powerful anti-inflammatory which may be another way in which it reduces endometriosis pain.
Propolis is a sticky resin that bees collect from the leaves, buds and bark of trees; bees use propolis to line their hives making use of the strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects of the sticky substance.
Two caveats: propolis is a powerful immune stimulant and has been shown to increase natural killer cell (NK cell) activity. Some women with infertility - especially those with recurrent miscarriage - may have over-active NK cells and for these women proplolis may not be a good choice. If you are allergic to bees propolis may not be a wise choice.
You can buy propolis in capsules, it is also available as a liquid which is used as a topical for gum diseases, cold sores and other problems which respond to itís anti-bacterial and anti-viral nature. You should always ask your physician before embarking upon a new nutritional supplement regime.
This information is for purely informational purposes and is not intended to substitute for the medical/nutritional advice of a physician or dietitian.
Fertility and Sterility (2003;80:S32)