Bee Pollen Can Help Offset Spring Allergies
Bees, sometimes thought of as a nuisance insect, do not get enough credit. Consider that their ingrained act of pollination — transferring pollen from one flower to another — results in a potentially powerful substance that has been touted to aid a miscellany of ails. Bee pollen is considered by some, especially herbalists, as an exceptionally nutritious food source capable of increasing energy and even reducing seasonal allergies.
Benefits of Bee Pollen
It should be noted outright that the efficacy of bee pollen is disputed in scientific circles—despite its long-standing traditional use, none of its benefits have been thoroughly vetted in a clinical setting. A few studies have shown promising results, but consensus remains that further studies are recommended.
Yet, acclaim for bee pollen remains. Herbalists, naturopaths, and individuals alike have advocated that bee pollen can benefit you in a number of ways, including:
- Fighting allergies. One of the more popular recommendations is that bee pollen acts as a natural allergy remedy for those triggered by summer grasses. The idea is that introducing pollen into your system will essentially desensitize you from the inside out and your allergy symptoms should subside after one to two weeks.
- Reducing inflammation. One study found that some flavonoids in bee pollen may partly participate in anti-inflammatory action, such as with joint pain, indicating that bee pollen could be beneficial not only as a dietary supplement but also as a functional food.
- Boosting nutritional intake. While the exact nutritional breakdown of bee pollen depends on the plant from which it was obtained, it is overall an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids, trace elements, and enzymes.
- Aiding digestion. As mentioned, bee pollen is a rich source of enzymes, which help your body break down food and absorb nutrients. As such, bee pollen could correlate to helping with GI conditions like diarrhea or colitis.
- Alleviating PMS symptoms. Research suggests that a specific combination product (Femal, Natumin Pharma)—containing royal jelly, bee pollen extract, bee pollen, and pistil—decreased some symptoms of PMS including irritability, weight gain, and bloating when given over a period of two menstrual cycles.
- Natural skincare. Bee pollen is used in various natural skincare products, in part due to its high concentration of vitamins and minerals. A monograph in the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database suggests bee pollen is particularly used for softening and for soothing skin eruptions. Some estheticians even use bee pollen in face masks for supposed plumping effects.
Before Taking Bee Pollen
Before taking bee pollen, you should always test for potential allergies. Even those who are not allergic to bee stings may be sensitive to bee pollen when consumed as a food product. Try ingesting just a single bee pollen pellet to determine if any intolerances flare up right away such as increased heart rate and breathing or dizziness. If you respond well with no reaction in the first 24 hours, try introducing it into your diet in small quantities.
How to Take Bee Pollen
While bee pollen can be ingested in various forms, including capsules, one of the more common ways is as small granules. These are commercially harvested by brushing the pollen off the hind legs of the worker bees and collected in a vessel. It is recommended that you purchase your bee pollen locally to ensure that it is native to your region; there is also a greater chance that local pollen is fresher than that purchased online and you have greater control over determining whether the pollen has been treated with chemicals or not.
While there is not one single standard for dosing, some people use 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of bee pollen granules daily and gradually increase the dose up to 6 teaspoons.
Taste-wise, bee pollen granules are particularly sweet and a bit chalky. Bee pollen should be stored in a refrigerator to maintain its nutritional properties. While you can take it alone in a spoonful, consider some additional ways to include bee pollen in your diet:
- Top your yogurt or cereal with bee pollen granules.
- Add bee pollen to your smoothies or coffee.
- Sweeten up your morning toast with a sprinkling of bee pollen.
- Sprinkle bee pollen over fruit salad for an unexpected sweet topping.
A Scientific Disclaimer
There are two groups that should exercise particular caution in regard to ingesting bee pollen: pregnant women and those with bee/pollen allergies.
Bee pollen should be avoided especially during breast feeding, as definitive evidence has not shown that it is completely safe for infants. There also exists the potential for an anaphylactic reaction for those with existing bee and pollen allergies. As severe reactions have been documented in certain cases, and the scientific benefits of bee pollen are still being evaluated, it is best to use your judgment and consult your doctor before introducing this supposed superfood into your routine.
Ultimately, when introduced safely, bee pollen has the potential to act as health aid in a variety of areas. See for yourself whether bee pollen lives up to its hype and visit your nearest beekeeper or local health food store to purchase your own bee pollen.
Brittany DeLong is a health enthusiast and freelance writer and editor based in Sterling, Virginia. For the past eight years she has focused her writing on health, fitness, and lifestyle topics for various publications including The Health Journal, Posh Seven Magazine, and Washington Family Magazine. Brittany earned a master’s degree in electronic publishing from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from George Mason University. She is an avid hiker and most recently hiked to the summit of Huayna Picchu in Peru.