17 Health Benefits of Bee Pollen (Science Backed)

Bee pollen is being used and marketed as a dietary supplement to promote health and treat many diseases. It is full of nutrients, antioxidants and other compounds which give bee pollen its health benefitting properties.

Honey bees gather nectar from flowers to make honey.

In this process, pollen grains from the flowers stick to their body parts and are packed together into pellets to form what is called Bee pollen.

Sometimes these get mixed with honey and other secretions from the bees and stored in the honeycomb. These are called bee bread.

The nutritional status of bee pollens varies significantly depending on the flowers from which the pollens were obtained.

On an average, bee pollens contain 20% protein, 70% carbohydrate, 10% fiber and the rest fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. (Read more Nutritional Analysis of Bee Pollen)

Though bee pollen is safe for use, it can cause serious allergic reactions in some people. Therefore, it is important to take this supplement with utmost care and upon medical consultation.

Let us now learn how bee pollen is beneficial in several health conditions and how it improves our nutritional status, health, and well-being.

Health Benefits of Bee Pollen

Bee pollens are known to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; treat cancer, infections, anemia, oral cavities, and atherosclerosis and promote immunity and liver health. Its beneficial effects are due to its high nutrient content, enzymes and compounds like tocopherols, flavonoids, linolenic acid, polysaccharides, folic acid, biotin, thiamine, phenols, carotenoids, and phytosterols. [1][2]

1. Bee pollen has anti-inflammatory effects

Inflammation causes many pathological conditions including arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, neurological disorders, skin conditions, and others.

To control inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed, but they have side effects. Thus, natural agents are used as supplements to reduce inflammation.

Studies have shown that bee pollen has anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of phospholipids and unsaturated fatty acids. [3][4]

In animal models, bee pollen containing flavonoids were found to be successful in reducing pain and inflammation by inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase and the production of nitric acid, which mediate the inflammatory process.

Thus, it can be used as a dietary supplement in inflammatory conditions.[5]

However, studies need to be conducted on a larger scale in humans to evaluate its therapeutic use.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen reduces pain and inflammation and could be used for treating inflammation-related diseases.

2. Bee pollen is an excellent antioxidant

Oxidation reactions take place all the time in the body to carry out cellular and organ functions.

These reactions produce free radicals as by-products which are unstable substances and attack body cells in order to stabilize themselves. This causes cell degradation and cell death.

Antioxidants slow or prevent this damage by scavenging the free radicals or by getting oxidized themselves by these free radicals.

When antioxidants are not enough, free radicals increase in number and cellular damage becomes inevitable.

The imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals leads to the formation of oxidative stress, which is the characteristic of many diseases including cancer, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, neurological problems and aging, to count a few.

Obtaining antioxidants from the diet can boost the antioxidant mechanism of the body and help in the prevention of cell damage and various diseases.

Pollen grains are rich in phenolics and flavonoids which make them excellent antioxidants. [6][7]

They are free radical scavengers which mean that they are able to locate and combat free radical species.[8][9][10]

The antioxidant and radical scavenging activity of bee pollen differs depending on the flower and place from which the pollens were obtained. However, mostly all bee pollens are good antioxidants.[11]

Thus they can successfully deal with oxidative stress and prevent or treat diseases caused by it.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen contains excellent antioxidants which protect the body from toxins and helps in treating diseases caused by oxidative stress.

3. Bee pollen can be used to treat microbial infections

Many microbes including bacteria, fungi, and virus are responsible for causing infections and other pathological conditions in humans.

Some microbes also reside inside the human body and are beneficial for health when present in limited numbers. However, when the unhealthy microbes multiply and increase their population, they can be harmful to health.

Bee pollen has antimicrobial properties. Its antibacterial potential has been tested against various strains of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella sp., E. coli, Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes.[12][13][14]

These bacteria are responsible for many diseases like skin, respiratory, intestinal, stomach, lung, kidney, urinary infections.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen is bactericidal against several strains of bacteria and could be used for treating infections caused by these microbes.

4. Bee pollen aids in the management of diabetes

Diabetes is a type of metabolic disorder which results in raised insulin levels in the blood. This occurs due to decreased insulin production or by body’s inability to respond to insulin, which is called InsuliResistancece.

Insulin hormone is responsible for the proper regulation of glucose levels.

Bee pollen helps in managing diabetes by having a hypoglycemic (sugar-lowering) effect [15].

Polysaccharides from bee pollen have been shown to alleviate insulin resistance and have the potential to treat diabetes.[16]

This could lead to an improved response of body towards insulin which will increase the functioning of insulin and contribute towards more favorable glucose levels.

What does this mean?

Insulin resistance and high blood glucose in patients with diabetes can be treated with the help of bee pollens.

5. Bee pollen helps in weight loss and prevention of obesity

Obesity is caused by disrupted metabolic profile leading to deposition lipids and sugars in the body as fats.

Polysaccharides in bee pollen help in improving insulin function and lipid metabolism which results in efficient utilization of glucose and triglycerides, preventing their storage as fats.

This aids in regularizing metabolism in diabetes patients and treatment of diabetes.[17]

Consumption of bee pollen and honey has shown to decrease lipid levels and assist in losing body weight.[18]

Thus, bee pollen can be used for weight control and the prevention of obesity.

(Read more Bee Pollen for Weight Loss)

What does this mean?

Bee pollen restricts fat deposition and weight gain which is useful for prevention of obesity.

6. Bee pollen is beneficial for the heart

High cholesterol levels in the blood can affect the heart health adversely. It leads to the formation of plaque in the arteries which increases the risk of cardiovascular ailments, like atherosclerosis, stroke and heart failure.

Bee pollen has protective effects on heart health due to its cholesterol-lowering properties.

Food supplements containing bee pollen have been known to decrease total cholesterol (TC) and LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol significantly which otherwise can cause serious cardiovascular risks.

Instead, it increases the HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which benefits the heart and prevents plaque formation.[19]

Bee pollen consumption reduces heart risks in menopause.[20]

Bee pollen taken with honey and bee bread has also shown similar effects by lowering cholesterol by about 18-20%.

This also helps in reducing body mass which is particularly beneficial for obese patients who are more at risk of developing heart diseases.[21]

Due to its ability to prevent atherosclerosis, oxidative stress and high blood pressure, bee pollen can be taken as health supplements for patients with cardiovascular diseases.[22][23]

What does this mean?

Bee pollen reduces cholesterol levels and decreases the risk of many cardiovascular diseases.

7. Bee pollen helps prevent osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is characterized by weak bones that become brittle and tend to break easily. This occurs as a result of decreased bone mass and bone formation.

Elderly persons and women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Bee pollen obtained from some plants can benefit the patients of osteoporosis.

Bee pollen increases the bone calcium and phosphate levels which make the bones stronger and decreases bone loss. [24]

It reduces the risk of osteoporosis in menopause

Factors present in bee pollen stimulate bone formation and the concentration of bone components which help in increasing bone mass.[25][26]

Thus, bee pollen supplements could be effective in preventing fractures and treating osteoporosis.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen increases bone mass and strength which benefits the people with osteoporosis.

8. Bee pollen benefits in anemia

Anemia occurs due to decreased numbers of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This is often caused by deficiencies of nutrients like iron and vitamin B12.

It can also happen as a result of body’s inability to utilize the nutrients properly.

Bee pollen can be useful for persons with anemia as it can increase the absorption and utilization of digested iron and increase hemoglobin levels.

It also increases the metabolism of other minerals like phosphorous, calcium and magnesium. Thus, they help in preventing and managing the adverse effects of iron-deficiency in the body.[27]

What does this mean?

Bee pollen ensures efficient metabolism of iron and other minerals and assists in the treatment of anemia.

9. Bee pollen assist in cancer prevention and treatment

Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled division of certain cells which increases their number and causes the formation of a cell mass called Tumor.

This may happen in any tissue or organ of the body.

Bee pollen is beneficial for cancer treatment in the following ways:

Prevents inflammation and oxidation: Inflammation and oxidative stress caused by free radicals have been known to cause DNA damage and cancer.

As we have already seen that bee pollen has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which could help in treating inflammation and protect cells from oxidative damage. This could assist in the prevention of cancer.[28][29]

  • Inhibits tumor growth: Polysaccharides present in bee pollen suppress tumor growth by inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. [30] Extracts from bee pollen have been shown to be toxic to prostate cancer cells by mediating cancer cell death, which proves its potential for tthe reatment of prostate cancer.[31]
  • Prevents mutations: Another cause of cancer is the occurrence of changes in DNA and the genetic profile. Bee pollens restrict DNA and gene mutation which helps in prevention of cancer.[32]
  • Reduces toxicity caused by cancer drugs: Bee pollens assist in reducing the toxicity, chromosomal damage and adverse effects caused by many anticancer drugs like mitomycin C, bleomycin, and vincristine. Thus, it can be used as a chemoprotective supplement.[33]
  • Inhibits angiogenesis: Angiogenesis or formation of new blood vessels plays a vital role in the progression of cancer. It ensures cancer cell growth by providing them with proper nutrition through newly developed blood vessels. Bee pollen prevents angiogenesis and restricts tumor growth by restricting their nutrient supply. Thus, it could be used for cancer prevention and treatment.[34]
  • Combats respiratory burst: Respiratory burst or rapid release of a large number of free radicals contribute to the development of cancer. [35]

Bee pollen is able to suppress this respiratory burst in cancer cell lines.[36]

(Read more Bee Pollen for Cancer)

What does this mean?

Bee pollen prevents growth and proliferation of tumor cells and combats oxidative stress which aids in cancer prevention. It also prevents mutations in the DNA. It reverses the toxic effects of cancer drugs and restricts nutrient supply to cancer cells.

10. Bee pollen improves immunity

The immune system protects our body from diseases and infections. It helps in tackling any harmful foreign substance or organism that might enter the body.

Polysaccharides from bee pollen assist in stimulating the immune system. They promote phagocytosis (engulfing and killing) of antigens and microbes by macrophages (immune cells).

They increase the proliferation of immune organ cells which enhances their functional capacity.

They also activate the NK (Natural Killer) cells which help in the killing of microbes, cancer cells, and other harmful substances.[37]

Flavonoids in bee pollen, due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, can be used for treatment and prevention of immunological disorders.[38]

What does this mean?

Bee pollen stimulates the body’s immune response and prevents immunological disorders.

11. Bee pollen helps in prevention of allergies

Allergies occur in certain people due to hypersensitivity towards the immune system, which is caused by exposure to certain foods, medications, insect stings, and some other substances.

The symptoms may include fever, rashes, inflammation, swelling, redness, sneezing and breathing problems.

Bee pollen contains phenols which also have anti-inflammatory nature and help in reducing swelling. They also inhibit the migration of immune cells and the production of immunoglobulins which trigger an allergic reaction. [39]

Mast cells, a type of white blood cells (WBCs) also play a vital role in allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Studies have shown that bee pollen inhibits the activation of these mast cells.[40]

Flavonoids in bee pollen have anti-allergic potential and could be used for the treatment of allergic disorders.[41]

However, bee pollen can cause allergic reactions in some people and the possibility of bee pollen allergy should not be ruled out.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen inhibits the immune cells which cause allergic reactions.

12. Bee pollen enhances brain health and prevents neurological diseases

Bee Pollen promotes brain health in the following ways:

Deals with neurotoxicity: Excessive stimulation of some neurotransmitters like glutamate in the brain causes exitotoxicity which damages and kills the nerve cells.

This could lead to stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, depression, loss of memory and many other neurodegenerative diseases.

Bee pollen is capable of reversing the effects of glutamate excitotoxicity and impairing glutamate functioning, which could prevent the occurrence of many brain disorders.[42]

  • Strengthens the brain: Bee pollen is beneficial for mental health and promotes the well-being of the nervous system. It improves blood supply to the nervous system and strengthens the nerve cells which get weakened by stress and toxins.[43]
  • Prevents autism: It could prevent and combat neurotoxicity and nerve impairment caused by propionic acid which mediates autism. Thus, it could be used for the treatment of autism.[44]
  • Treats depression: Bee pollen could also be used for treating depression as its long-term use improves mood and well-being.  It can also be used with anti-depressants which could result in lower dosages and lesser dependency on these drugs. [45]
  • Improves memory: A traditional Chinese medicine containing bee pollen called Nao Li Su has been found to increase the red blood cells in the brain and enhance memory functioning.[46]
  • Good for individuals with multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease caused by damage of nerve cell coverings. This damage may be caused by an autoimmune reaction, neurotoxicity or viral infection. Due to its ability to deal with neurotoxicity and immune stimulation, bee pollen has been recommended by scientists to improve the immunological status of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.[47]
  • Beneficial in Syringomyelia :Syringomyelia is a disorder caused by the formation of cysts or cavity in the spinal cord. This could be congenital or occur due to spinal cord injury, trauma, meningitis or hemorrhage.

In some patients of syringomyelia, combined treatment with bee pollen and radon baths was found to be effective.[48]

(Read more Bee Pollen and Multiple Sclerosis)

What does this mean?

Bee pollen reduces toxicity in the brain, improves memory and assists in the treatment of depression, syringomyelia, and multiple sclerosis.

13. Bee pollen improves nutrition levels in the elderly

Older individuals usually suffer from malnutrition due to decreased absorption. This leads to weakness, loss of body weight and muscle mass.

Bee pollen, when included in the diet of elder persons, may help in improving the metabolism which will result in increased absorption of nutrients.

This, in turn, increases nutrition levels, protein synthesis, and muscle mass. [49]

What does this mean?

Bee pollens are an excellent health supplement for older persons which improve their nutrition status.

14. Bee pollen aids combating toxicity and promotes liver health

The liver helps in the detoxification of the body by removing chemicals, toxins, and drugs that would otherwise harm the body.

Some toxins and drugs may damage the liver cells and cause liver cirrhosis. Also, excess fat deposition in the liver leads to the occurrence of Fatty Liver disease.

Bee pollen assists in removing toxins and thus helps the liver in detoxifying the body.

Studies conducted on animal models show that it is effective in alleviating propoxur toxicity which is largely present in pesticides and insecticides.[50]

Carbon tetrachloride is another chemical present in pesticides, cleaning agents and refrigerants. It is the cause of hepatitis (liver damage) and liver cancer.

Bee pollen has been found to promote the healing of liver cells damaged by carbon tetrachloride toxicity. It also helps in combating the oxidative stress in the liver due to its antioxidant effects. Thus, it could be safely used for treating liver injuries.[51]

Paracetamol is a drug used to treat pain and fever, but it too has toxic action towards the liver.

Certinins are extracts from bee pollen which help in reducing paracetamol toxicity and poisoning and protect the liver from damage.[52]

Polysaccharides from bee pollen contribute to reducing insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, blood glucose levels, and liver fat storage, thereby preventing and treating fatty liver disease.[53]

What does this mean?

Bee pollen aids in the removal of toxins and promotes liver health.

15. Bee pollen is good for persons with prostatitis

Prostatitis refers to the swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland in men. This causes painful urination and pain in the pelvic area. It may be caused by bacterial infection or pelvic injury.

Phytotherapy or use of herbal medicines has been found to be effective in treatment of prostatitis. This includes cernilton and quercetin, which are extracts from bee pollen.[54][55]

Thus, bee pollen can be used as complementary medicine to assist in prostatitis treatment especially when allopathic medicines are unable to provide positive results.[56]

(Read more Bee Pollen and Prostate)

What does this mean?

Scientists have recommended the use of bee pollen for the treatment of prostatitis.

16. Bee pollen contributes to better reproductive health

Bee pollen has shown to promote reproductive health and fertility in animal models.

A study reports the beneficial effects of bee pollen as it increases the body weight of the females, conception rate, milk production, biochemical profile of blood, infant growth and survival rate. [57]

In another study, bee pollen assisted in increasing the hemoglobin, protein, iron and albumin levels of the mother.

In fetuses, it increased the body weight and decreased the death rate, without affecting fetal development and causing any malformations.[58]

These findings suggest the possibility of its safe use as a dietary supplement during pregnancy, but more concrete studies are required to confirm this.

Please consult your health practitioner before taking bee pollen supplements during pregnancy and lactation.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen improves the health of both mother and fetus and enhances fertility.

17. Bee pollen helps in the treatment of menopausal symptoms

Menopause occurs at a stage in woman’s life, usually after 40 years of age, when the reproductive capacity decreases due to the lowering of levels of certain hormones.

This has other physiological and psychological effects on the body like hot flashes, urinogenital problems, urinary tract infections, depression, sleep disorders, mood swings and other changes in skin and hair.

Melbrosia, a herbal supplement containing bee pollen has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of several menopausal symptoms and could be used as an alternative to hormone therapy.[59]

Similarly, in another study conducted on 46 breast cancer patients, 71% patients reported positive results while consuming bee pollen.[60]

Thus, bee pollen could be efficiently used for treating menopausal symptoms.

What does this mean?

Bee pollen alleviates menopausal symptoms in women.

How to use Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen is available as a dietary supplement in the form of pills, tablets, granules, and capsules.

The dosage depends on your medical condition and tolerance levels. This can be determined by consulting with a medical professional.

Bee pollen can be included as toppings on yogurt, cereals, desserts, salad, and soups.

Bee Pollen Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup fruit juice (apple/orange)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp bee pollen

Method:

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender for 30 minutes. A healthy smoothie is ready.

Precautions to be taken with Bee pollen

Bee pollen is considered safe for consumption. However, some people need to be extra careful while taking bee pollen and keep in mind certain precautions.

Bee pollen should only be used as a complementary medicine and supplement and not as an alternative to regular prescribed medications.

Always consult with your doctor or nutritionist before including bee pollen in your diet plan.

Bee pollen has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people, especially who are allergic to pollens.

It could cause fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, bloating, intestinal cramps, coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulties, eczema, increased heart rate, dizziness and in some cases, anaphylactic shock. [61][62][63]

Before consuming bee pollen for the first time, always perform an allergy test. Take a bee pollen and keep it under the tongue until it is absorbed completely.

Wait for any unwanted signs. If no adverse effects occur, increase the number of bee pollens and keep checking for allergic reactions till you are completely sure of its safety for use.

In some cases, consumption of bee pollen has been found to cause acute renal failure, acute hepatitis, and gastroenteritis.

However, these effects have been observed in special cases only and are not the general effects of bee pollen consumption.

Nonetheless, one should be cautious before taking certain herbal supplements.[64][65][66]

Please consult a health practitioner before taking bee pollen supplements during pregnancy and lactation. Consult a doctor before giving bee pollen to children.

Bee pollen can interfere with the working of some drugs like warfarin which is used as an anticoagulant or blood-thinning agent.[67]

One should consume only pure bee pollen supplements as there is the risk of contamination. Bee pollens are sometimes contaminated by bacteria, chemicals and fungus like Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium, which are toxic in nature.[68][69]

Also, the supplements should be branded and genuine. There are many supplements available in the market which are fake and instead contain harmful drugs. They could have adverse health effects.[70]

(Read more Side Effects of Bee Pollen)

Conclusion

Bee pollen has been used for a long time as a dietary supplement and research backs some of its claims on positive health effects. Bee pollen has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

It could assist in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, toxicity, liver injuries, osteoporosis, anemia, cancer, neurological diseases, prostatitis, and menopausal symptoms.

It improves immunity, brain health, and reproductive health. However, more studies need to be conducted in this regard.

It may cause allergic reactions in some people, but otherwise, it is safe for consumption by women, children and elderly. It could be used as a dietary supplement to assist in health improvement and prevention of diseases.

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