What Are the Health Benefits of Bee Pollen?
Consuming bee pollen as a wellness supplement isn't a new idea—in fact, the medicinal application of bee pollen, which has been used to treat problems ranging from stomach upset to heart problems, has been practiced for thousands of years. Here, Julie Levin, a medical herbalist and the founder of Leaf People, explains exactly what bee pollen is, and why you could benefit from including it your diet.
Bee pollen actually comes from flowers.
The term bee pollen is actually a bit of a misnomer, says Levin, since bees harvest pollen to meet their protein needs, and use it, along with honey, to sustain developing bee larvae. In short, bees are the ones collecting the pollen, not creating it (that's up to the flowers!). If you're interested in bee pollen supplements, Levin says you'll want to choose ones that are local and come from a variety of different types of flowers. "Different flowers create different colors of bee pollen and it's generally considered better to eat multicolored pollen rather than uniform color pollen in order to widen the variety of available nutrients," she says, adding that when people talk about ingesting local bee products for various health benefits they mean anything produced within 20 miles of where you live.
It's best ingested as a supplement.
Experts claim that bee pollen can be beneficial to a variety of the body's organs and systems, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it's been prescribed for just about every ailment at some point. These days it's used as a dietary supplement. "It is a great source of protein (up to 35 percent, including free amino acids), low in fat, and provides a plethora of vitamins and minerals," she says. "It also offers anti-inflammatory properties and is high in zinc content and immune boosting aspects—making it a great choice during cold and flu season, as well as for immune deficiencies."
Additionally, it can help you achieve a clear mind-body balance. "Think of bee pollen when you want to boost to your immunity, achieve mental clarity, and lift your energy levels, as it has an affinity to the urogenital tract, repairs hormonal, metabolic, and skin imbalances, and is excellent for replenishing our nervous system," she continues.
Talk to your doctor before you add bee pollen into your routine.
With all of the benefits that bee pollen offers, it may seem like a terrific way to boost your health—but as with any supplement, you should consult with your doctor before adding it to your diet. This is especially true for those who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding. "Overall, bee pollen is categorized as a mild remedy with no chronic toxicity, so the majority can enjoy it without hesitation," Levin explains. "But, here are a few things to consider: Ingesting it can upset some people's stomachs or—for others—aggravate their allergies. You should always start off with a small amount (1/4 teaspoon on an empty stomach) to test your tolerance for a few days and increase from there, up to one teaspoon on an empty stomach. Some sources suggest up to three teaspoons per day, but this would be more of a corrective dose versus a maintenance dose of a single teaspoon.