Bee Pollen as Food and Medicine
Honey bee pollen is a potent medicinal and nutritional substance.
Medicinally it is anti fungal, antiviral, antibiotic, antiallergic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anticancer, immuno-stimulating, local anesthetic and modulates the burn wound healing process.
The chemical composition varies by plant source, geographic location, climate, and soil, to name a few. There are about 250 substances that make up bee pollen including 22,7% proteins, 10,4% amino acids, 30,8% carbohydrates, acids (linoleic, γ-linoleic and archaic, with phospholipids, phytosterols, especially P-sitosterol), lipids (EFAs) & fatty acids, vitamins (provitamin A and vitamins E and D, and water-soluble vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, and C, and acids: pantothenic, nicotinic and folic, biotin, rutin, and inositol), macronutrients (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) & bioelements - micronutrients (iron, copper, zinc, manganese, silicon, and selenium), polyphenols - flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin), phenolic compounds (triterpene bonds, oleanolic acids, 3-ursolic acid, and betulin alcohol, enzymes & coenzymes.
Clinical studies confirmed the hypolipidemic activity of pollen which lowered the level of lipids and cholesterol, decreased the clumping of blood platelets, lowered the level of cholesterol in blood serum, increased the field of view, and stabilized the visual acuity. Moreover, small doses of pollen given to older people allowed both the inhibition of the atherosclerotic changes of blood vessels and improvement of cerebral blood flow.
The hypoglycemic activity of pollen causes a decreased ability of platelet aggregation and increased fibrinolytic system activity which indicates the anti-atherosclerotic effect giving protection from heart diseases and brain strokes.
The detoxifying activity of pollen and bee bread from occupational diseases, heavy metal contamination, industrial gases & dusts, and drugs (e.g., anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory preparations and antibiotics) should also be mentioned.
Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties pollen is recommended in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, initial degenerative conditions, and cholestatic liver diseases as well as in toxic and post traumatic damages of the liver.
As a dietary supplement, pollen contributes to a higher vitamin C and magnesium content in the thymus, heart muscle, and skeletal muscles as well as higher hemoglobin content and a greater number of red blood cells. It has been shown to regulate metabolic processes which in turn help with developmental delays, malnutrition and surgical recovery.
Furthermore, the adaptogenic properties of pollen increase the resistance to harmful physical, chemical, and biological factors. It both increases the physical fitness when under excessive physical burden, while also improving brain functions, such as memory, learning, comprehending, thinking, and ability to concentrate, while simultaneously boosting the immune system against infection.
Pollen, taken with antidepressants, enables the lowering of doses and improves the overall condition in a shorter period of time. Due to this fact, there are fewer cases of drug addictions or occurrences of side effects. Owing to its nutritional and tonic properties as well as improvement of blood supply to nerve tissue, pollen boosts mental capacity and strengthens the nervous system weakened by stress or overwork. Therefore, pollen is effective in treating physical and mental over-tiredness, asthenia, and apathy.
Particularly good effects are gained in depression caused by decreased life energy, especially in older people. Long-term use of pollen, even in small doses, enables gradual mood improvement, restores the desire to live, and strengthens the organism physically.
In sum, pollen is a classic example of a food and medicine in one. Because it is powerful medicine, if you are dealing with a health condition and want to add pollen to your daily regimen, start slowly with a few grains and work your way up slowly to a couple of teaspoons or even a tablespoon per day mixed with food or warm water. Bon appetit!
For more reading on the health benefits of bee pollen, see Bee Pollen: Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Application (2015).