Bee pollen is a potent "superfood," full of vitamins and antioxidants that can support healthy aging and improve energy levels. Certified organic bee pollen is harvested from bees that only forage from wild and organic flowers – well away from industrial areas and commercial agriculture – and is free from harmful pesticides and other pollutants.
Bee pollen consists of multiple pollens from flowers and trees combined with honey, which bees compress into granules that stick to the sides of their legs to transport back to the hive. Humans harvest it using small pollen traps that the bees pass through on their way into the hive, gently shaking some of the pollen off with each pass.
Organic bee pollen contains a wide range of vitamins including A, D, E, K, C and the full B complex, according to the Huntington College of Health Sciences. Vitamin B-5, particularly prevalent in bee pollen, may be helpful in treating adrenal fatigue due to stress. Bee pollen also contains all eight essential amino acids – at between five and seven times the level found by weight in other high-protein foods.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Bee pollen is also high in bioflavonoids that may be helpful in preventing oxidative damage from free radicals. Research published in the journal “PLoS One” revealed that bee pollen can reduce oxidation at the cellular level when used in low concentration. The antioxidants in bee pollen also possess potent anti-inflammatory activity in the body, according to research published in “BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine” in 2010. Both the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bee pollen make it a promising supplement to support healthy aging; it may help prevent diseases caused by chronic inflammation or oxidative damage.
Egyptian bee pollen showed antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties for treating genotoxicity – the exposure of cells to substances which may alter the DNA, potentially leading to cancer – in mice, according to a study published in “Cytotechnology” in 2013. Bee pollen may also possess chemoprotective qualities that could prevent cell damage from the common anti-cancer drugs mytomicin C, bleomycin and vincristine, according to research published in the “European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.” The same study concluded that bee pollen possesses anti-estrogenic properties, which may make it useful as a complementary treatment for estrogen-dependent reproductive cancers.
Bee pollen has traditionally been used as a food to increase energy and endurance. Bee pollen may help increase red blood cells and corresponding hemoglobin, allowing more oxygen to get to the cells. According to a Chinese animal study, bee pollen increased hemoglobin and serum iron levels, potentially explaining its reputation as an energy enhancer.
There have been side effects reported with bee pollen, including severe allergic reactions which can result in anaphylactic shock. The “Journal of the American Board of Family Practice” warns that, though rare, these reactions can be life-threatening and that appropriate labeling and more widespread awareness are needed. Bee products can be dangerous to people with severe allergies to pollen and should be avoided in children, just to be safe. Check with your healthcare provider before supplementing with bee pollen.
- Huntington College of Health Sciences: Bee Pollen, Propolis & Royal Jelly
- Mother Nature Network: What's the Buzz on Bee Pollen?
- PLoS One: Integrated Analysis of COX-2 and iNOS Derived Inflammatory Mediators in LPS-Stimulated RAW Macrophages Pre-Exposed to Echium Plantagineum L. Bee Pollen Extract
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Bee Pollen Ethanol Extract From Cistus Sp. of Spanish on Carrageenan-Induced Rat Hind Paw Edema
- Cytotechnology: Assessment of Anti-Mutagenic, Anti-Histopathologic and Antioxidant Capacities of Egyptian Bee Pollen and Propolis Extracts
- European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry: Antiestrogenic and Antigenotoxic Activity of Bee Pollen from Cystus Incanus and Salix Alba as Evaluated by the Yeast Estrogen Screen and the Micronucleus Assay in Human Lymphocytes
- The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice: Anaphylactic Reaction After Ingestion of Bee Pollen
- Allergy and Immunopathology (Spain): Bee Pollen: A Dangerous Food for Allergic Children. Identification of Responsible Allergens
Amy Myszko is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been helping people find greater health and balance through diet, lifestyle and natural remedies since 2006. She received her certification from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. Myszko also holds a BA in literature from the University of Colorado.