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Bee Pollen

What is it?

Bee pollen refers to the flower pollen that collects on the legs and bodies of worker bees. It can also include some nectar and bee saliva. Pollens come from many plants, so the contents of bee pollen can vary significantly. Don’t confuse bee pollen with bee venom, honey, or royal jelly.

People take bee pollen for nutrition; as an appetite stimulant; to improve stamina and athletic performance; and for premature aging, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), hay fever (allergic rhinitis), mouth sores, joint pain (rheumatism), painful urination, prostate conditions, and radiation sickness.

It is also used for weight loss, bleeding problems including coughing or vomiting blood, bloody diarrhea, nosebleed, brain hemorrhage, and menstrual problems.

Bee pollen is also used for gastrointestinal (GI) problems including constipation, diarrhea, enteritis, and colitis. Some people use bee pollen as a general tonic, to increase urine flow, and for alcohol intoxication.

Bee pollen is used topically for skin care in skin softening products, and for treating eczema, pimples, and diaper rash.

You may hear claims that bee pollen enzymes (chemical compounds that assist in chemical reactions) provide a variety of treatment benefits. However, any enzymes in bee pollen are likely to be digested in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There is no reliable evidence indicating that bee pollen enzymes or other ingredients in bee pollen are effective as treatment.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for BEE POLLEN are as follows:

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance. Research suggests that taking bee pollen supplements by mouth does not seem to increase athletic performance in athletes.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Early research suggests that a specific combination product (Femal, Natumin Pharma) seems to decrease some symptoms of PMS including irritability, weight gain, and bloating when given over a period of 2 menstrual cycles. This product contains 6 mg of royal jelly, 36 mg of bee pollen extract, bee pollen, and 120 mg of pistil extract per tablet. It is given as 2 tablets twice daily.
  • Appetite stimulation.
  • Premature aging.
  • Hay fever.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Joint pain.
  • Painful urination.
  • Prostate conditions.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Colitis.
  • Weight loss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate bee pollen for these uses.

How does it work?

The enzymes in bee pollen are thought to act like medicines. However, these enzymes are broken down in the stomach, so it is unlikely that bee pollen has any effect.

Are there safety concerns?

Bee pollen is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 30 days. There is also some evidence that taking 2 tablets twice daily of a specific combination product that contains 6 mg of royal jelly, 36 mg of bee pollen extract, bee pollen, and 120 mg of pistil extract per tablet for up to 2 months seems to be safe.

The biggest safety concerns are allergic reactions. Bee pollen can cause serious allergic reactions in people who are allergic to pollen.

There have also been isolated reports of other serious side effects such as liver and kidney damage. But it is not known if bee pollen or some other factor was truly responsible for these effects.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking bee pollen is POSSIBLY UNSAFE during pregnancy. There is some concern that bee pollen might stimulate the uterus and threaten the pregnancy. Don’t use it. It’s also best to avoid using bee pollen during breast-feeding. Not enough is known about how bee pollen might affect the infant.

Pollen allergy: Taking bee pollen supplements can cause serious allergic reactions in people who are allergic to pollen. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, shortness of breath, light-headedness, and severe whole-body reactions (anaphylaxis).

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Warfarin (Coumadin)
Bee pollen might increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin). Taking bee pollen with warfarin (Coumadin) might result in an increased chance of bruising or bleeding.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of bee pollen depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bee pollen. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Bee Pollen Extract, Buckwheat Pollen, Extrait de Pollen d’Abeille, Honeybee Pollen, Honey Bee Pollen, Maize Pollen, Pine Pollen, Polen de Abeja, Pollen, Pollen d'Abeille, Pollen d’Abeille de Miel, Pollen de Sarrasin.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 02/13/2015