What is Bee Pollen?
Falling into the category of “superfoods” bee pollen is the food of a young bees. From everything I’ve read collecting pollen is hard work! If you are interested in the exact mechanisms of how pollen is collected this website has a great description of the whole process. I will sum it up for you as best I can.
The honeybee arrives at the flower and pollen collects on their bodies from the anthers of plants. The pollen is moistened using either saliva, nectar or a drop of honey and packed into a storage area or basket that is located on their hind legs (which they do while they are flying!). Once the baskets are full the pollen is then pressed down to form a pellet. These pellets are then brought back to the hive and packed into honeycombs. It should not be overlooked that along the way bees also pollinate other flowers, a job for which we would be doomed without.
The colour, shape and size of the pollen pellet can vary greatly. Colours can range from bright yellow to black. The variances have to do with the species of plant they collect the pollen from. On a daily basis bees can collect anywhere from 50-250 grams of pollen – that’s 1-7 kg of pollen per year!
What’s So Good About It?
Bee pollen is made up of approximately 40% protein and contains nearly every nutrient that is required by humans. It’s composition includes approximately 250 substances that range from vitamins to amino acids. Taken from Dr. Axe’s website, here is the chemical composition of bee pollen:
- 30% digestible carbohydrates
- 26% sugars (mainly fructose and glucose)
- 23% protein (including 10% of essential amino acids)
- 5% lipids (including essential fatty acids)
- 2% phenolic compounds (including flavanoids)
- 1.6% minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, silicon and selenium)
- 0.6% water-soluble vitamins and acids (B1, B2, B6 and C)
- 0.1% fat-soluble vitamins (A, E and D)
Top 10 Reasons to Consume Bee Pollen
Bee pollen has large amounts of rutin which is an antioxidant bioflavanoid that helps strengthen the cardiovascular system. It can tone and strengthen the capillaries and blood vessels and aids in circulation.
In general, antioxidants have the important role of neutralizing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that react with other substances in your body thereby damaging cells or creating abnormal ones. A certain level of free radical damage is considered normal (like when we have a fever), but when levels in the body cannot be dealt with by current antioxidant levels, that’s when we begin to notice the toll this damage can take. Fatigue, brain fog, joint and muscle pain, premature aging, decreased eye sight, susceptibility to infections are all signs of oxidative stress.
Chronic inflammation in the body has been linked to conditions likes arthritis, asthma, diabetes, hair loss, lupus, IBS, Crohn’s disease and many more. The anti-inflammatory effects of bee pollen are often compared to that of pharmaceutical medications (without the side effects of course).
There is a difference between acute inflammation (like when you stub your toe or twist your ankle) and chronic inflammation. As more evidence is being gathered we are quickly realizing that the roots of almost all disease states is chronic inflammation. While we have known for many years that conditions such as heart disease are greatly improved when you reduce inflammation in the body, we are now learning that even obesity and diabetes are linked to chronic inflammatory states.
Increase Energy Levels
The extraordinary levels of protein, amino acids, carbohydrates and B vitamins found in bee pollen can greatly impact tiredness levels and fatigue. Stamina is increased and those who consume bee pollen on a regular basis report decreased levels of fatigue. Bee pollen is often recommended for those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal fatigue.
As of note of interest, if your low energy levels are are a result of stress, we know that bee pollen could benefit, as stress lends to oxidative damage in the body which we just read about.
Protects the Liver
A study published in 2013 (published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine) found that consuming bee pollen can help protect the liver against oxidative stress. It also aided in the healing of the liver from damage caused by toxicity.
Bee pollen is also recommended to be used in conjunction with herbs during a liver cleanse.
Boosts the Immune System
Due to it’s antimicrobial properties (anti-viral) and it’s positive relationship with gut flora, bee pollen is the perfect ally for the cold and flu season. In addition the high anti-oxidant levels described above will help to protect the cells in the body from oxidative damage.
Treatment for Allergies
Bee pollen is anti-allergenic which means that it’s an effective treatment again allergies. Most people find that it’s effects are best noticed when taken a few months prior to allergy season.
An allergy is when your body develops an immune response to an allergen. This creates antibodies. When you come in contact with something you are allergic to the antibodies cause histamine to be released. This results in puffy eyes, runny nose and general unpleasantness. Bee pollen helps to reduce histamine levels which is the exact same thing that over-the-counter medications aim to do.
Digestive Aid and Supplement
We’ve already discussed the amazing range of minerals, vitamins and amino acids that bee pollen contains. This makes it a perfect food to help supplement your diet. In addition, bee pollen also contains digestive enzymes. This will aid in the full and complete digestion of your food. The importance of this should not to be underestimated because undigested food can lend to leaky gut. In addition is it very difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs from you food if it’s not digested properly.
As already discussed, bee pollen contains antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, all are attributes are necessary in the topical healing of any injury or skin condition. Aging, acne, eczema and psoriasis could all benefit from the topical application of a bee pollen salve.
Bee pollen also contains flavonoids that help with relieve pain (analgesic). It also contains kaempferol which is especially useful in the treatments of burns.
Female Reproductive System Treatments
Studies have found that bee pollen is an effective treatment for infertility and menopausal symptoms. In the case of menopause, bee pollen is effective against fatigue and decreased cognitive function, both comment complaints of women going through menopause.
Last but certainly not least, bee pollen is effective at mood regulation due to it’s high amino acid content. For those who have been following me for a while you know that I have a whole series on Seasonal Affective Disorder and treating depression naturally. Bee pollen’s nutritional profile and tonic properties help to improve blood flow to all the nervous tissues in general. It also helps to increase neurotransmitter activity and anyone suffering from depression knows that this is key to the treatment of the condition.
Where Can I Get Bee Pollen?
Ideally, from a local beekeeper! There is almost always one beekeeper at local farmers’ markets, sometimes more. Getting it directly from the source means you know exactly where it’s coming from and you can speak directly to the person who helps to collect it if you have any questions. It’s important to ensure that the plants the bees pollinated from were not sprayed!
If you can’t seem to find a local beekeeper health food stores will carry it. It can also be purchased online through Amazon (affiliate link).
Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to hear about how you use bee pollen.
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support myself and my herbal clinic, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any product or services from this blog. I truly appreciate all the support you have shown my blog and my business and I will only ever recommend products that I use myself, truly love or covet. Many thanks.