As a human who falls into the category of mentally overactive, it should come as no surprise that I also struggle with sleep. Specifically falling asleep. Even if I feel physically exhausted, oftentimes I will toss and turn for hours before I descend into a light slumber. This can be attributed to what my mom lovingly refers to as my “monkey brain.”
Though I have certain proclivities to be restless, I do have to take ownership of one thing: the amount of caffeine I consume in a day is absolutely ridiculous. I have weaned myself off of diet sodas, but I still rely heavily on caffeinated beverages—we’re talking 6-7 cups of coffee a day, people—to the point of making myself so hopped up, I literally feel ill. This, of course, does nothing for my ability to fall asleep.
So, in an attempt to act like a grown woman (well, allegedly) I have resolved to minimize my caffeine intake. Specifically: I’m not allowing myself to drink coffee after 1 p.m. Which is all well and good until my 2 p.m. slump rolls around and I feel like I’m in a daze. I try to be a functioning member of society, so this, as you can imagine, is less than convenient. A compromise had to be made because I can’t sleepwalk through my days, but I also really need to sleep.
This compromise came in a really unexpected form, too. Specifically, bee pollen. Of course, food is the easiest way to make a difference in how you feel, but supplements can also boost how you feel in a palpable way. Bee pollen is certainly a supplement that has made a major difference in my life, which was perplexing to me. It has no caffeine, but mid-afternoon when I am feeling tired and sluggish, a pinch of this down the hatch and I feel revived. No shakes, no feeling sick to my stomach, but I’m once again alert. It is remarkable.
And there’s a reason why this supplement is so darn effective, according to Diya Sengupta, the founder of Jiva Bhaksa, an edible skincare line (!!!) who learned ayurvedic remedies from her Indian grandmother (she’s also a holistic nutritionist.) It was the belief that food can heal you from the inside out and that caused her to create her own line of skincare products, based on the notion that you eat your way to beautiful skin. In that line, of course, is bee pollen.
You’re probably wondering what that is, because flowers and plants make pollen and bees make honey, right? Essentially, bee pollen is the pellet that is packed together by worker bees when pollen from a flower is brought back to the hive. This is the primary protein source for the hive and all that happens there. It makes the bees buzz.
So why do I feel like I have laser focus after a dash of bee pollen in the afternoon? Well, there are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, because bee pollen is actually protein, explains Diya, it feeds your brain’s RNA and DNA, waking up your body’s cells. In other words, “Bee pollen is a great way to give your body everything it needs — it has protein and it has carbs. Taking it will help even out your blood sugar levels. That’s the first layer of energy, and then the protein inside of it boosts cell function,” say Diya. Essentially it boosts your mental function in the same way that taking a fish oil supplement would. Pretty nifty. Not to mention, the first sign that you are protein deficient is impaired cognitive function. In other words, bee pollen might just be the superfood that boosts your metabolic function.
But bee pollen isn’t just good for a mid-afternoon energy boost — it’s also helpful if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Bear in mind, if your bee pollen is local, it will be more effective in doing so, because the pollen that causes your allergies will more likely to be in the mix. So, the next time your allergies are bothering you, ⅛ of a teaspoon under your tongue will do wonders to clear your sinuses and help you cope. It’s quite literally nature’s antihistamine, that is of course if you're not allergic to the stuff in the first place.
Another amazing benefit of adding bee pollen to your daily routine is that it essentially functions as a stress defense shield. Think about it: superfoods strengthen our cells’ defenses against deterioration due to stress. And the result of this of course, is that with consumption, your cells get a metabolic boost, and by extension you are protected from premature aging. Oh and some other known benefits include a strengthened skin barrier, and stronger hair and nail growth (because, hello, protein.)
Scrimping on coffee in the afternoon definitely hasn’t been the easiest — I would be lying if I said it was. There were a few days when I got headaches from what I’m assuming was caffeine withdrawal or perhaps emotional dependence. Bee pollen, however, proved to be a wonderful substitute energy-wise and I will continue to turn to it, in the pursuit of better sleep habits. And the fact that there are all sorts of added benefits to consuming it aside from the fact that it’s a buzzy brain boost? Well, that’s just fantastic.