I was talking to my local beekeeper the other day and asked him if he suffers from arthritis. He told me no, and I have since learned that he’s not the only beekeeper that claims this. I thought to myself, “What makes these beekeepers different?” Could it be the bee pollen?
Arthritis is a terrible disease that often includes very severe pain along with inflammation of the joints, stiffness and a decreased range of motion. Apitherapy, or the use of bee products such as bee pollen, honey, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom to benefit health is currently used in the U.S., but very minimally. However, back in the 1990s former U. S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was so convinced of the benefits of bee pollen after his allergies were as he said “cured,” that he helped to create the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the Office of Alternative Medicine in the National Institute of Health. The science of these bee products are also supported and used in other countries such as China, Korea, Russia, Egypt and Greece.
What is Pollen?
Pollen is the male seed of a flower that is necessary to fertilize a plant. When a honeybee arrives at a flower, she sits on the stamen and scrapes off the loose pollen. She moistens it with a bit of honey to create those golden granules of pollen, which by the way cannot be duplicated in a laboratory.
- 30 percent digestible carbohydrates
- 26 percent sugars (mainly fructose and glucose)
- 23 percent protein (including 10 percent of essential amino acids)
- 5 percent lipids (including essential fatty acids)
- 2 percent phenolic compounds (including flavonoids)
- 1.6 percent minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, silicon and selenium)
- 0.6 percent water-soluble vitamins and acids (including B1, B2, B6 and C)
- 0.1 percent fat-soluble vitamins (including vitamins A, E and D)
What about the research?
There is not a lot of bee research about the medicinal value here in the U. S., but this supplemental article to the book, The Art of Getting Well and Bee Pollen: The Perfect Food is supported by over 20 professionals including doctors and Royden Brown, the creator of Aller-Bee-Gone (Allergies and Bee Products). It’s an interesting read as the article speaks to all the different ailments that were improved by bee pollen.
Here is another finding and in this case is for Multiple Sclerosis patients entitled: An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Bee Pollen by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (PDF Download Available)
rSummary: In a preliminary study, bee pollen, as part of multi-bee product therapy, was found to decrease symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Well-designed clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made in this ﬁeld. rEvidence (combination study): Apitherapy (including bee venom, bee pollen, and honey) improved symptoms in 92 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Three 20-day courses of bee venom 4.5 mg daily was administered over one year. Honey 30 g twice daily (orally) was administered with bee pollen 10 g daily for six months. No other therapy was given. The forms of MS in this group were cerebrospinal (70 patients) and cerebellar (22 patients). Stage I to II patients represented 72.8% and stage III to IV patients were 27.2%. Clinical improvement was seen in 100% of patients and 72.8% of disabled patients were able to return to work (Krivopalov-Moscvin, 1997). In this study the criteria used to determine clinical improvement and improvement type were not cited and no control group was mentioned.
Is Bee Pollen Safe?
Bee pollen seems to be safe for most people, at least in short term. I would always consult your physician first, especially if you are allergic to pollen. An allergic reaction to bee products can include: shortness of breath, hives, swelling and anaphylaxis! Doctors do not recommend bee pollen for pregnant or breast feeding women. Bee pollen may cause increased bleeding if taken with certain blood thinners like warfarin.
Where to Buy Bee Pollen
If you can, try to buy pollen collected from unpolluted sources: no GMOs, no pesticides, herbicides, and as far away from industrial pollution as possible. Try to purchase organic when possible and only from a reputable dealer.