Bee pollen is one of nature’s most complete foods. It’s produced by bees as they fly from flower to flower, gathering nectar. It is a combination of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Just like propolis, bee pollen also contains valuable flavonoids, a group of chemicals which support healthy immune sytems. In this post we’ll explore a bit more about the composition of bee pollen, and explain how it supports the body.
Chemical Composition of Bee Pollen
Pollen is a varied plant-based product, containing over 200 different substances. These include things like proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins as well as less well-known chemicals like phenols, enzymes, fatty acids and lipids.
One study found that pollen contains an average of 22.7% protein and around 30% carbohydrates, including fructose and glucose. Our bodies depend on both of these food groups. Protein helps your body repair cells and grow new ones – it’s vital for growth. Carbohydrates give us energy, they’re the body’s main fuel source.
Fatty acids also act as fuel storage for the body, they’re the building blocks for the fat in our body.
Pollen contains an average of 1.6% phenols and 1.4% flavonoids. These are groups of chemicals prevelant in plants which provide various kinds of support for the body. For example, kaempferol has well-documented anti-cancer properties, and quercetin is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
As far as vitamins go, bee pollen contains a wide range of them. Vitamin A, C, D and E are all found in pollen, as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Vitamin A is important for eye health, vitamin D for bone health, vitamin C for the immune system. B vitamins play an important role in energy production in the body.
Biological Activity of Bee Pollen
Lots of research has been undertaken exploring the biological activity of bee pollen. Perhaps the most prevelant area of research shows pollen to be detoxifying – it appears to have the capacity to remove toxins from the blood stream. Bee pollen has also been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease clumping of platelets in the blood.
Like propolis, pollen is an anti-inflammatory, with comparable activity to that of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. As such, pollen can be used to treat chronic inflammatory diseases. Inflammation is associated with a wide range of conditions including diabetes, Crohn’s disease, cancer and heart disease.
It has been recommended to take pollen in the recovery period after an operation. It is also recommended for those who work in demanding jobs – both physically and mentally.
One of the areas of research which is perhaps most interesting is its apparent capacity to inhibit allergic reactions. Research has shown that pollen appears have an anti-histamine effect.
Pollen has also been administered alongside antidepressants. This has resulted in the loweing of antidepressant doses. It seems that pollen has the capacity to boost mental/cognitive capacity due to it’s nutritional properties. Pollen can be used to treat physical and mental tiredness and apathy. Even in small doses, if taken regularly, pollen “restores the desire to live, and strengthens the organism physically” in those suffering with mild depression.
As you can see, pollen is both highly nutritious and offers wide-ranging health benefits. Available as Pollen Capsules, Pollen Granules and in Pollen Honey, bee pollen us truly one of nature’s superfoods. Whether you’re looking to benefit from high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals or exploring pollen as a natural medicine, the evidence stacks up.
Bee pollen is just one of a range of substances produced by bees which offer medicinal properties. Even honey is packed with phenolic compounds and has been used as a natural medicine for millenia. Bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis all fit within this new category of natural medicines we call ‘apiceuticals’.