Bee Pollen as a Natural Supplement Could be the Next Superfood

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Sprinkling nature’s dust, or bee pollen, on food as a supplement is a recent hot topic for ‘superfoods.’ The mixture of flower pollen, nectar, bee secretions, honey, and enzymes is thought to provide a source of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and other health compounds.

Historically, various ancient civilizations used bee pollen medicinally worldwide. Starting in 13,000 B.C., Ancient Romans and then Native Americans used bee pollen for energy and food on long trips. The Māori in New Zealand and ancient people of China and India used bee pollen as food. And medical texts from the early 1100s describe people using bee pollen as a sedative and aphrodisiac. It was also used for stomach and heart ailments.

But fast forwarding to present day, what are the modern-day health benefits to adding a dash of bee pollen to your morning brew or salad? According to recent research, bee pollen can make an impact to your health.

What Is Bee Pollen?

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Bee pollen is found in grocery or health food stores in capsules, pellets, powders, or tablets. Health experts label it as a ‘superfood’ because it contains nutrients and compounds like proteins, enzymes, and essential amino acids. One study refers to bee pollen as a ‘complete food’ because it holds all the amino acids the human body needs to function.

Read More: Yes, Some Pollinators Need Saving — But Honeybees Are Actually Doing Just Fine

What are the Benefits of Bee Pollen? 

A study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that bee pollen holds between 13 percent to 55 percent of carbohydrates, 0.3 percent to 20 percent of crude fibers, 10 percent to 40 percent of proteins, and 1 percent to 10 percent of fats or lipids. Bee pollen is also considered a health food because it contains flavonoids and polyphenols. Beyond the nutritional value, studies also suggest the following health benefits of bee pollen.

Treats Respiratory Illnesses

Bee pollen may be a future therapeutic tool for treating COVID-19 because among other natural bee products, it’s an effective anti-viral product. It’s especially potent against viruses that cause severe respiratory illnesses, like human coronaviruses. Bee pollen’s antiviral potential along with its ability to amplify and strengthen immune systems may make it an effective tool towards preventing some COVID-19 risks.

More specifically, one study found that bee pollen collected from bees foraging on the common poppy, helped patients reduce their COVID-19 symptoms and allowed them to return to work faster.

Lowers Cholesterol

Bee pollen has been found to decrease lipids and triacylglycerols in the blood plasma of rats and rabbits, according to a study published in Herba Polonica. Other studies have found that the pollen is a hypolipidemic, or reduces the amount of fat or lipids in the blood serum in patients. For patients who had arteriosclerosis, it lowered their levels of cholesterol in the blood and improved vision.

Helps Allergies

Bee pollen may also reduce allergies in mice. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that when bee pollen phenolic extract was given to mice, it partially reduced anaphylactic shock among other allergic reactions like inflammation of the paws and asthma. This led the team to suspect that bee pollen could be used as a tool to treat allergies.

Bee pollen might protect the body from allergic reactions because it prevents mast cells, a type of immune cell, from releasing histamines. As chemical compounds in the body, histamines cause allergic reactions to spike, such as hives, redness and itchiness.

Reduces Inflammation

Bee pollen may help reduce inflammation in the prostate gland in nonbacterial prostate gland inflammation. In this type of condition, a study found that ingesting pollen improved the condition and helped with pain.

Researchers also found that in mice, bee pollen improved inflammation caused by a swollen prostate, per a study published in the International Journal of Advanced Research.

Fights Cancer

Because of its effect on the immune system, bee pollen might also reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to this study. Bee propolis, or the resin bees use to build their hives, was found to have anticancer properties against colon, pancreatic, cervical, skin, and lung cancers. The propolis can stop cancerous cells from proliferating or growing at a faster rate than normal.

In some parts of China, bee pollen collected from oilseed turnips is used as a preventative against cancer. Bee pollen collected from beach roses native to eastern Asia may have some anti-tumor properties.

Read More: 6 Ways You Can Help Save Bees and Other Pollinators

Where Does Bee Pollen Come From?

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Contributing to all of these benefits, the variance and composition of the compounds found in bee pollen depend on the pollen’s source. The process starts when foraging bees take pollen back to their hive, and carry it with pollen baskets that are located on their hind legs. After arriving, bees will coat their pollen with saliva and wax. The pollen in this protective seal ferments and becomes ‘bee bread,’ or nutrients for the hive.

The way in which beekeepers then harvest and store the pollen may also affect the benefits of bee pollen. The geographic location of the bees, soil conditions, climate, and a beekeeper’s way of tending to the hive can change the composition. The type of flowers the bees forage on contributes to what compounds the bee pollen contains. From harvesting, the bee pollen can then take on different forms that you see in stores, such as powders, or capsules.

Read More: Why Do I Get Sick So Often, While Others Stay in Freakishly Good Health?

How to Take Bee Pollen

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An easy way to ingest bee pollen is by infusing it in baked goods and drinks. But a study published in Biomolecules states that because bee pollen is coated with a hard shell, the pollen should be ground and then added to water to get all its benefits. This technique increases the digestibility from between 4 percent and 53 percent, to 60 percent and 80 percent.

What Is the Correct Bee Pollen Dosage?

According to a 2021 study published in Nutrients, one dosage of bee pollen is between 3 and five teaspoons for adults. For children, the dose is between one to 2 teaspoons. But, not enough information is known about what the correct dosage of bee pollen is. You should always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement.

Is Bee Pollen Safe?

If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you should check with a healthcare provider before taking it. There are some reports of those with asthma, atopic dermatitis and allergies to pollen may have a reaction to bee pollen.

Can Bee Pollen Interact With Medications?

There is a moderate chance that bee pollen may interact with Warfarin, an anticoagulant that treats blood clots. According to Medline Plus, taking bee pollen may increase bruising or bleeding when taking the supplement with Warfarin. Currently, there are no other known interactions with other herbs or supplements.

Article Sources

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