Bee pollen is produced by bees from a combination of flower pollen and nectar.
Been pollen is advertised for treatment of alcoholism, allergies, poor appetite, asthma, benign prostatic hypertrophy, cancer, constipation, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, premenstrual syndrome and hot-flashes during menopause, prostatic conditions, and wounds. When pregnant rats were given bee pollen, fetuses with higher birth weights and decreased death rates resulted. Its usefulness for general maintenance of health and improved strength and stamina also is implied.
Aside from the nutrients that bee pollen provides, clinical data do not support any other benefits. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids. It consists of approximately 30% protein, 55% carbohydrate, 1%-2% fat, and 3% minerals and trace elements.
Advertisers of bee pollen often mention components, such as antioxidants, which are, in fact, poorly understood by experts at this time. Most studies completed on bee pollen are small, uncontrolled, human or animal studies. No studies have shown any effect on athletic performance from consumption of bee pollen.
Cernilton, an extract of bee pollen, is used for the treatment of prostatic conditions and appears to relax urethral smooth muscle tone, increase bladder muscle contractions, and relax internal and external sphincter muscles. However, these studies are possibly limited by their short duration, small sample size, and questionable standardization of preparations.
Individuals who are allergic to bee venom, honey, ragweed, or chrysanthemum should not take bee pollen. Rarely, bee pollen has caused serious and sometimes fatal adverse reactions. Acute hepatitis and photosensitivity following ingestion of bee pollen also are reported.
References and recommended readings
Barrett S. Bee pollen, royal jelly, and propolis. Available at: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/bee.html. Accessed November 8, 2010.
Drugs.com. Bee pollen. Available at: http://www.drugs.com/npp/bee-pollen.html. Accessed November 8, 2010.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Bee pollen. Available at: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/print/69132.cfm. Accessed November 8, 2010.