Bee pollen is a mixture of the pollens picked up by bees as they fly from one flower to another. Bee pollen is a popular folk remedy for many conditions, including PMS and enlarged prostate. It’s also used as an energy tonic.
Why do people take bee pollen?
Despite its long-standing traditional use, there's little evidence that bee pollen has any particular health benefits.
A few studies have been promising:
- One small study found evidence that bee pollen might reduce some side effects of radiation therapy for cancer.
- Other studies looked at an extract of bee pollen and found some benefits in men suffering from chronic prostatitis or enlarged prostate.
- Another study found that a product containing bee pollen (and several other ingredients) seemed to reduce PMS symptoms.
However, more research needs to be done before it’s known whether bee pollen truly helps those conditions.
There is evidence that bee pollen is not helpful in boosting athletic performance or stamina. The many other uses of bee pollen -- from increasing strength to slowing aging -- are largely unstudied.
As a food, bee pollen does at least seem to be nutritious. It's a good source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates. Note that bee pollen is not the same as other substances derived from bees -- which are sometimes used as supplements -- like bee venom, royal jelly, and honey.
How much bee pollen should you take?
Since bee pollen is an unproven treatment, there is no standard dose. Some people use 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of bee pollen granules daily. They gradually increase the dose up to 6 teaspoons. Ask your doctor for advice.
Can you get bee pollen naturally from foods?
There are no foods sources of bee pollen besides the pollen itself.
What are the risks of taking bee pollen?
- Side effects. Generally, bee pollen seems fairly safe. However, it could cause potentially serious allergic reactions in people with allergies to honey, pollen (like ragweed or other plants, depending on where the bee pollen comes from), or bee stings. Symptoms could include itching, redness, swelling, hives, shortness of breath, and even anaphylactic shock.
- Risks. If you have any medical conditions, check with a doctor before you start using bee pollen regularly. It might not be safe for people with allergic asthma, blood disorders, or liver disease. People who take bee pollen for allergies could actually aggravate their symptoms if they are allergic to any of the pollens in the supplement.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using bee pollen supplements.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, bee pollen is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.