Pollen is found in flowering plants. Bees collect pollen while they are searching for nectar. Pollen can be gathered from bees or harvested from plants by machines. Bee pollen contains the male reproductive cells (gametes) of flowers and digestive enzymes from bees.
Pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants. The exact composition varies depending on the plant source from which the pollen was obtained. The protein in bee pollen has decreased digestibility compared with other sources of protein.
Medically valid uses
There are currently no well-established uses for bee pollen. Although many claims are made for pollen, there are no solid scientific studies supporting its use for any particular disease, condition, or nutritional aid.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.
Most of the claims made for bee pollen remain unsubstantiated. Many physicians feel that the use of bee pollen is not worthwhile when weighed against the dangers associated with its use. Nevertheless, bee pollen has been used to improve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia and chronic prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), alleviate allergies, and protect the liver from effects of some toxins. Bee pollen is also claimed to lower cholesterol, reduce the effects of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), improve metabolism, increase hormone levels, stamina and sexual strength, reduce depression, and alleviate problems associated with bleeding.
An optimal dosage has not been established for bee pollen. It is best to take only a small amount at first to test for a possible reaction.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
A small percentage of the population is allergic to ingested pollen. Allergic reactions range from mild to fatal. Wheezing, discomfort, and a rash are possible signs of a reaction to bee pollen supplements. Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), although uncommon, does occur. People who are susceptible to allergies or asthma should avoid bee pollen.
There are no known significant food or drug interactions to bee pollen.
The nature of bee pollen is entirely dependent on the flower from which the pollen was obtained. Carbohydrate and protein content can vary widely from one plant species to another. Pollen taken from plants growing in areas of environmental contamination (particularly heavy metal contamination) may be affected by the toxins in that area.
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