For years, herbalists have touted bee pollen as a nutrient-dense food. They even claim that it can cure certain health problems. However, after years of research, scientists are still unable to confirm that bee pollen has any health benefits.
What Is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen contains vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. It comes from the pollen that bees collect on bees as they fly from one flower to another. Bee pollen may also include bee saliva.
It is important to avoid confusing bee pollen with natural hive venom or royal jelly. These products do not contain bee pollen, although some combination products contain one or more of these substances.
How Is Bee Pollen Used?
Bee pollen is available in many health food stores. You may find bee pollen in other natural dietary supplements and in skin softening products for baby diaper rash or eczema.
You may also hear advice about using bee pollen for alcoholism, asthma, allergies, health maintenance, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), an enlarged prostate, or stomach problems. It is also used as an energy tonic.
But there is no evidence that it helps these conditions. Check with your doctor before you take any natural product for a health check.
Some herbalists also recommend using bee pollen to improve athletic performance, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, and improve allergies and asthma.
At this point, medical research has yet to show that bee pollen is effective for any of these health problems. Some studies are promising:
A small study found evidence that bee pollen may reduce some of the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer.
Other studies looked at bee pollen extract and found some benefits in men with chronic prostatitis or enlarged prostate.
Another study found that products containing bee pollen (and several other ingredients) appeared to reduce PMS symptoms.
But more research needs to be done before we know whether bee pollen actually helps these conditions.
The many other uses of bee pollen—from increasing strength to slowing aging—are largely unstudied.
As a food, bee pollen at least seems nutritious. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates.
How Much Bee Pollen Should You Take?
Since bee pollen is an unproven treatment, there is no standard dose. Seek advice from your doctor.
Can you get bee pollen naturally from food?
Bee pollen has no food source other than the pollen itself.
Is Bee Pollen Safe?
Bee pollen appears to be safe for most people, at least for short-term use. However, if you are allergic to pollen, you may get more than you thought. Bee pollen (such as ragweed or other plants, depending on the source of the bee pollen) can cause severe allergic reactions – including itching redness shortness of breath hives swelling and allergic reactions
Bee pollen is not safe for children or pregnant women. Breastfeeding women should also avoid bee pollen.
Bee pollen may cause increased bleeding if taken with certain blood thinners, such as warfarin. If you take any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies, consult your doctor before taking bee pollen.