Bee Pollen

Scientific names: Apis mellifera

Common names: Bee pollen also is known as honeybee pollen.

Efficacy-safety rating:

Ò...Little or no evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen consists of plant pollens collected by worker bees, combined with plant nectar and bee saliva. These are packed by the insects into small dust pellets, which are used as a food source for the male drones. Commercially, the pollen is gathered at the entrance of the hive by forcing the bees to enter through a portal partially obstructed with wire mesh, thus brushing the material off the hind legs into a collection vessel. Because of the increasing popularity of this health food, this means of pollen collection has been supplemented by the direct collection of the material from within the hives.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The use of bee pollen increased during the late 1970s, following testimonials by athletes that supplementation with this product increased stamina and improved athletic ability. Bee pollen has been used in certain cultures for thousands of years, but has become increasingly popular over recent years and recognized for its potential health benefits.

Nutritional

Bee pollen is a good nutritional source for drone bees. It has been described as “nature's perfect food” and is a highly concentrated food source containing a complex supply of quality nutrients. A number of traditional Chinese herbal formulas contain bee pollen. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids, and contains approximately 30% protein, 55% carbohydrate, 1% to 2% fat, and 3% minerals and trace vitamins. Vitamin C concentrations of 3.6% to 5.9% also have been found in some pollen samples. Promotional literature lists almost 100 vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds identified in bee pollen. The physiologic importance of many of these components is poorly understood. Bee pollen preparations often contain mixtures of pollens from diverse types of plants, and these pollens vary with the geographic origin of the material.

Other uses

It has been traditionally used for a variety of purposes, including relief of constipation; treatment of prostatic conditions, such as prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostate cancer; wound healing; and for its proposed antioxidant action. Bee pollen has been used to prevent hay fever, but there is a risk of severe allergic reaction with this practice. It may also relieve premenstrual syndrome and climacteric symptoms associated with menopause.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no clinical evidence to guide dosage of bee pollen.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Ingestion produces allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Attempts to hyposensitize patients by administering bee pollen may produce severe anaphylaxis and other acute or chronic responses. Although rare, bee pollen can cause serious, sometimes fatal, adverse reactions. Some case reports of acute hepatitis and photosensitivity following ingestion of bee pollen have been reported.

Toxicities

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicity with the use of this product.

References

  1. Bee Pollen. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; July 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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