This review aims to present an update of propolis properties, with emphasis on Brazilian samples. It also brings attention to points, such as standardization protocols and scientific evidence, that needed to be further investigated in order to broaden the potential therapeutic use of this bee product. Propolis became a traditional remedy in folk medicine. In recent decades a great interest has arisen in more knowledge about its composition and therapeutic activities. Its composition is very complex, varying with the geographic region, with more than 300 constituents having been identified to date. The biological activity of propolis is associated mainly with phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and derivatives of hydroxycinnamic acids. In recent years, Brazilian propolis became the subject of increasing interest, due to its unusual chemical composition when compared with samples from other countries. Several compounds isolated presented a variety of biological activities, such as microbicidal, antioxidant and antitumoral. Although there is a huge amount of information about the chemistry and biological activity of propolis, its application in human and veterinary therapies has hardly changed. Propolis is used both in human and veterinary clinics in Eastern Europe countries, Cuba and in Uruguay. Most of the therapeutic effect of this resin is associated with microbicidal properties and the ability to scavenge free radicals. A multidisciplinary study correlating chemical composition, basic plant sources in different geographic regions, as well as and biological and pharmacological activities, open the possibility of a classification of a limited number of "chemical types" of propolis which will be possible only with the combined effort of the national and international scientific communities.
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