Bee pollen consists of ﬂower pollen and nectar from male seed ﬂowers. It is collected by the worker honey bee, mixed with secretions from the bee such as saliva, which contains digestive enzymes, and is then carried back on the hind legs of the bee. The pollen is harvested at the entrance to the beehive as bees travel through the wire mesh brushing their legs against a collecting vessel. Commercial quantities of pollen can also be collected directly from the ﬂowers.
Bee pollen consists of protein, carbohydrates,minerals, and essential fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acids. It also contains small amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, ﬂavonoids and various amino acids, hormones, enzymes and coenzymes.In nutritional terms the amounts of vitamins and minerals are too small to be signiﬁcant.
Bee pollen may have antioxidant and antiinﬂammatory activity.
Bee pollen has been claimed to be useful for improving prostatitis and benign prostatic hypertrophy, although all the studies conducted so far have been uncontrolled and none published in English. Bee pollen has also been claimed to be beneﬁcial in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis,hypertension and varicose veins, but there are no clinical studies to support these claims.
Two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in humans have investigated the effects of bee pollen in cross-country runners, and in elderly patients with memory deterioration. However, there were no improvements in running speed or memory function in these two studies.
Bee pollen is contraindicated in people with a known history of atopy or allergy to pollen or plant products because of the risk of hypersensitivity.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
No problems have been reported, but there have not been sufﬁcient studies to guarantee the safety of bee pollen in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Bee pollen may cause allergic reactions, including nausea, vomiting and anaphylaxis. One 19 year-old man with asthma had a fatal reaction to bee pollen. Anecdotally, bee pollen has been shown to promote hyper-glycaemia in diabetes.
Bee pollen is available in the form of capsules and powder.
The dose is not established. Product manufacturers tend to recommend doses of 500–1500mg daily from capsules or 1 /2–1 teaspoon of the powder.
(excerpted from) Dietary Supplements, Third Edition, by Pamela Mason, BSc, MSc, PhD, MRPharmS, published by Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2007.