Bee pollen has amazing health benefits. It can fight inflammation, give you an antioxidant boost, treat iron deficiency anemia, protect your liver, fight infections, help with allergies, and improve menopausal symptoms. But it can cause severe reactions if you’re allergic to pollen and is also not suitable if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It might also react with some medications.
You might already love honey with its amazing health-enhancing properties. But did you know that bees also give us another natural product that’s great for your health? Bee pollen is the pollen of flowers gathered by bees. It is collected by installing a pollen trap at the entrance of the bee hive. Bee pollen is rich in protein and also contains vitamins A, E, D and B, carbohydrates, minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and selenium), and fat.
Bee pollen has been valued for its healing properties for ages. The ancient Egyptians called it “a life-giving dust” and Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder prescribed it to their patients.1 2So, let’s take a look at what this gift from the bees can do for us.
Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen
1. Fights Inflammation
Inflammation can cause swelling and even pain but bee pollen can help deal with this. One study found that an ethanol extract of bee pollen given orally strongly inhibited swelling (edema) in the paws of rats. The bee pollen extract inhibited the activity of an enzyme called COX – 2, which promotes inflammation and pain, and also the production of nitric oxide, which plays a role in the regulation of inflammatory responses. The researchers suggested that flavonoids in bee pollen may be responsible for this effect.3
2. Gives You An Antioxidant Boost
Bee pollen contains compounds like flavonols and anthocyanins which give it potent antioxidant properties and make it helpful in keeping us healthy. Our bodies generate free radicals during the course of normal functioning. These free radicals can cause cellular damage and are implicated in a variety of conditions from autoimmune disorders, cancer, and cataract to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and aging. However, antioxidants can help in the elimination of free radicals and have a protective effect on our health.4 But do keep in mind that the antioxidant capacity of bee pollen can vary depending on the species of pollen that it consists__ of.
3. Treats Iron Deficiency Anemia
Anemia is a condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a deficiency in iron, which is used by the body to produce red blood cells. A study on rats with iron deficiency anemia found that adding bee pollen to their diet led to an increase in hemoglobin levels and resulted in better weight gain. Bee pollen also improved the digestive utilization of iron. It also reduced the adverse effects of iron deficiency on calcium and magnesium metabolism by improving the digestive utilization of these minerals.5
4. Protects Your Liver
Several medications and toxic chemicals are known to damage the liver. But bee pollen might be a safe and natural way to heal your liver. One study found that chestnut bee pollen was effective in healing rats who suffered from liver damage due to exposure to carbon tetrachloride, a toxic chemical. The bee pollen, which was administered orally, was also found to protect cells in the liver from oxidative stress.6
5. Fights Infections
Bee pollen is known for its antimicrobial properties. One study found that Moroccan bee pollen was effective against various strains of bacteria like P. aeruginosa, E. coli, S. aureus, and B. cereus.7 So bee pollen might be able to defend you against a range of infection-causing pathogens.
6. Helps With Allergies
Bee pollen has been used for ages as a folk remedy to deal with allergic reactions. Now, scientific research gives us some insight into how it works. An animal study found that when bee pollen was orally administered it inhibited the activation of mast cells which play a significant role in allergic reactions. Do keep in mind though that bee pollen can cause an allergic reaction if you’re sensitive to pollen.8
7. Improves Menopausal Symptoms
Menopause can be a difficult time with symptoms like hot flushes, hair loss, night sweats, and pain during sexual intercourse. But it has been found that a mixture of honey and bee pollen can be helpful – honey enhances the efficacy of pollen and improves its taste. One study used this for women with breast cancer who were suffering from menopausal symptoms due to anti-hormonal treatments. A majority of them showed improvements and the researchers suggested that this treatment could be used in healthy women undergoing menopause too. It’s also worth noting that honey by itself was also found to improve menopausal symptoms.9
A Word Of Caution
While bee pollen has various beneficial effects, it’s best to avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It can also cause severe allergic reactions if you’re allergic to pollen. And it might increase the effects of certain medications (for instance, certain blood thinners) too. In fact, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking bee pollen if you’re on any medication.10