Bee Pollen

By Cynthia Thaik, M.D.

For years, bee pollen has been touted by herbalists and medical professionals alike for its ability to treat a wide variety of ailments. In this article, we take a look at what all the buzz is about and the actual science behind bee pollen.

 

What is Bee Pollen?

Pollen is basically bee food. Pollen from flowering plants is collected by bees while they’re in search of nectar. Farmers then gather pollen granules from the bee’s legs via a small screened box attached to their hive. The result is a batch of small yellow nuggets that may be added to dishes for texture and nutritional value. Bee pollen is widely available for purchase online and in most health food stores.

 

The Molecular Makeup of Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen consists of over 200 active nutritional substances. Per tablespoon, bee pollen is 16 calories, has 0.24 grams of fat, 1.2 grams of protein, 2.18 grams of carbohydrates and over 200 active nutritional substances. Bee pollen is full of amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, and vitamins and minerals, and is well known for its complex nutritional profile. Listed below are some of the way’s bee pollen is used.

 

Energy Enhancer

Bee Pollen may have you feeling more energized. Due to its extensive nutritional diversity, bee pollen is often used as an energy booster. The carbohydrates, protein and B vitamins in it can help keep you alert longer by enhancing stamina and improving endurance and vitality. Bee Pollen has also shown to improve iron absorption. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia which causes fatigue, weakness, and dizziness among other unpleasant side effects.

 

Nutritional Supplement

Due to the complexity of its molecular makeup, many people have turned to bee pollen to replace their daily vitamins. With its macromolecular balance very closely resembling our nutritional needs, there’s ample variety of nutrients and ease of use. Dr. Joseph Mercola of the Dr. Mercola Natural Health Center says, “bee pollen contains all the essential components of life.”

 

Immunity Booster

Pollen is good for the intestinal flora and thereby supports the immune system. According to holistic health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, bee pollen has antibiotic and antiviral-type properties that can help protect the body from contracting viruses. A Harvard Medical School publishing also cited a lack of micronutrients in our diets as a leading cause for a weakened immune system. This is something bee pollen could potentially correct.

 

Weight Management and Muscle Development

Bee pollen works wonders in weight-control or weight-loss programs. That’s because it stimulates the metabolic processes and can increase the rate at which calories are burned. Furthermore, a 2014 study looking at how bee pollen affects muscle protein and energy metabolism found that subjects who included bee pollen in their diet showed a significant increase in muscle mass compared to those who didn’t. The study also revealed the diet change restored mitochondrial activity in case of undernourishment.

 

Digestive Aid

Bee pollen contains enzymes that can aid in digestion. These enzymes assist your body in getting all the nutrients you need by breaking down the food you eat. A study conducted in the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Granada, Spain found benefits to consuming bee pollen in digestion as well as increased absorption of Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium.

 

Assists with Healing

Clinical research has shown that bee pollen applied to burn wounds reduces healing time of wounds and positively affects general health conditions. Additionally, the pollen was noted to be a highly effective antimicrobial agent. This was reflected in a significant reduction in the number of microorganisms and bacterial activity present in wounds, helping prevent infection from newly formed tissues. Further studies have shown that bee pollen demonstrates antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and local analgesic activity as well.

 

Beauty Benefits

When bee pollen is taken daily, it not only gives you a glow of health, but also helps to smooth, soothe, and rejuvenate your skin. Amino acids and vitamins protect and nourish skin while aiding in the regeneration of cells. This makes us look younger, less vulnerable to wrinkles, smoother, and healthier. Which is why it is frequently used today for its many beauty benefits.

 

Anti-Cancer Properties

In 2014, the Biotechnology Faculty of Science in Bangkok reviewed bee products effects on cancer. Scientists found that the peptides in bee products induced apoptotic cell death in the lining of several human cancer cells. Cancerous cells in the kidneys, liver, prostate bladder and lymphoid were changed. While research in this area is currently limited, the study suggested the possibility of promising applications in the ability to target therapy for some cancers in a less physically stressful way.

 

Allergy Treatment

Pollen reduces the presence of histamine, improving many allergic conditions. Studies show that patients who were treated with oral feeding of pollen were completely free from allergy symptoms once treated. Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, bee pollen can ease inflammation and discomfort caused by asthma, hay fever, and allergies. Scientists have even positively compared it to nonsteroidal drugs used to treat allergies such as Analgin and Naproxen. Bee pollen is also used to build immunity to local allergens that may cause uncomfortable symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, hives, and rashes.

 

Cardiovascular Health

Bee Pollen contains large amounts of Rutin; an antioxidant bioflavonoid that helps strengthen capillaries, blood vessels, assists with circulatory problems and corrects cholesterol levels. Its potent anti-clotting powers could also help prevent heart attack and stroke. In a Molecules 2018 Review, scientists found that bee pollen in a high-fat diet significantly decreases TC and LDL cholesterol levels which can improve overall heart health. The numerous antioxidants found in bee pollen also protects against oxidative stress that can harm your cardiovascular system as well as the rest of your body.

 

Menopausal Relief and Fertility Support

Research looking at menopausal women suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss among other difficult symptoms were given bee pollen. The results were dramatic decreases in complaints of menopausal symptoms by the women who were given the pollen. Additionally, bee pollen is known to stimulate and restore ovarian function and may be used to assist in accelerating pregnancy.

 

Improves Liver Function

Your liver is in charge of breaking down and removing toxins from your blood. Alcohol, medicines and other chemicals found in our food and environment can hinder your liver’s ability to function. Animal studies have shown that bee pollen can actually enhance your bodies detoxifying abilities. One study found that pollen extracts reduced serum enzyme elevations caused by alcohol that can harm the liver, confirming its hepatoprotective properties.

 

How Should You Use Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen is a food and acts most effectively when taken at mealtimes. Taking the pollen with Vitamin C rich foods such as fruits can especially boost your ability to absorb its nutrients. When adding bee pollen to your diet, it’s recommended that you start gradually (½ tsp.) a day and work your way up to 1-3 tablespoons by the end of four weeks. Consider adding a spoonful of bee pollen at breakfast, preferably taken with a piece of fruit to enhance the activity of the fresh pollen.

If you think you might have a sensitivity to pollen or a history of hay fever, try this simple test. Place a few granules in your mouth and wait 2 minutes. If you experience no symptoms (watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing), chew slowly and swallow. Wait another 24 hours and monitor your body for any symptoms. If you don’t experience any, gradually increase as stated above.

Buy honey pollen local to ensure you’re building up an immunity to the plants in your area. Ask your farmer, or look for a label that states it is mold and pesticide free. Also, try to get a bottle with a variety of colors to make sure they come from different plants, which improves the bee pollen’s nutrient profile. Store your fresh bee pollen in the refrigerator — sunlight and heat can destroy bee pollen’s nutrient value. It should keep well for up to a year if stored properly.

Important Note

Bee pollen may cause increased bleeding if taken with certain blood thinners like warfarin. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or on blood thinners, please check with your doctor before trying bee pollen.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D. is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.