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Bee Pollen Benefits and Side Effects

For years, herbalists have touted bee pollen as an exceptionally nutritious food. They've even claimed it is a cure for certain health problems. Yet after years of research, scientists still cannot confirm that bee pollen has any health benefits.

What Is Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen contains vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. It comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees. Bee pollen may also include bee saliva.

It's important to avoid confusing bee pollen with natural honey, honeycomb, bee venom, or royal jelly. These products do not contain bee pollen.

How Is Bee Pollen Used?

Bee pollen is available at many health food stores. You may find bee pollen in other natural dietary supplements, as well as in skin softening products used for baby's diaper rash or eczema.

You may also hear recommendations for using bee pollen for alcoholism, asthma, allergies, health maintenance, or stomach problems, but there is no proof that it helps with these conditions. Before you take any natural product for a health condition, check with your doctor.

Bee pollen is also recommended by some herbalists to enhance athletic performance, reduce side effects of chemotherapy, and improve allergies and asthma.

At this point, medical research has not shown that bee pollen is effective for any of these health concerns.

Is Bee Pollen Safe?

Bee pollen appears to be safe, at least when taken for a short term. But if you have pollen allergies, you may get more than you bargained for. Bee pollen can cause a serious allergic reaction -- including shortness of breath, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis.

Bee pollen is not safe for pregnant women. A woman should also avoid using bee pollen if she is breastfeeding.

Bee pollen may cause increased bleeding if taken with certain blood thinners like warfarin. Check with your doctor before taking bee pollen if you take any medications, over-the-counter medicines, or herbals.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 19, 2013

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