Published: 2 May 2014
Propolis is a sticky material collected by bees from plants, and used in the hive as building material and defensive substance. It has been popular as a remedy in Europe since ancient times. Nowadays, propolis use in over-the-counter preparations, "bio"-cosmetics and functional foods, etc., increases.
Volatile compounds are found in low concentrations in propolis, but their aroma and significant biological activity make them important for propolis characterisation. Propolis is a plant-derived product: its chemical composition depends on the local flora at the site of collection, thus it offers a significant chemical diversity. The role of propolis volatiles in identification of its plant origin is discussed. The available data about chemical composition of propolis volatiles from different geographic regions are reviewed, demonstrating significant chemical variability. The contribution of volatiles and their constituents to the biological activities of propolis is considered.
Future perspectives in research on propolis volatiles are outlined, especially in studying activities other than antimicrobial.