Can Bee Pollen Help Your Health?

Bee Pollen Nutrition Facts

Natural bee pollen in ceramic bowl on concrete
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Bee pollen has been used as a folk medicine for centuries: It's been referenced as a sedative, astringent, aphrodisiac and a remedy for upset stomachs in various cultures as early as the 1100s and 1200s. Today, bee pollen is touted as a superfood, with claims that it has anti-aging properties and even that it contains every nutrient needed for human life. But are these claims too good to be true? Let’s see whether bee pollen stands up to scrutiny.

What Is Bee Pollen?

Before diving into any potential benefits of consuming bee pollen, it's helpful to actually understand what bee pollen is. When bees are searching for nectar to turn to honey, they collect pollen along the way. The byproduct of this pollen, combined with the bee's digestive enzymes, is called bee pollen. It is packed by the bees and stored in small balls in the hive and is the main source of protein for the hive.

It's important to note that bee pollen is not the same thing as honey, royal jelly or honeycombs, which are other byproducts of bees that may have health benefits.

Bee Pollen Nutrition Facts

Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and trace elements. But to say it has every nutrient needed for human life is a stretch. The exact amount of nutrients depends on the plants the pollen was harvested from, and the protein in bee pollen is harder for humans to digest than protein from other sources.

The nutritional value also declines with time after harvest and depending on how it is stored.

Bee Pollen and Allergies

Another bee pollen claim is that by taking local bee pollen, you can expose your body to all the different pollens in the air. Over time, your body becomes desensitized to the season’s pollen and your allergies go away.

However, the FDA has specifically cracked down on bee pollen labeling, because there isn’t enough evidence to say that bee pollen prevents allergies.

In addition, some people are actually allergic to bee pollen. The reactions to bee pollen and bee pollen supplements in those who are allergic can range from mild to fatal, and include wheezing, discomfort, rashes or anaphylaxis. If you are prone to allergies and asthma, you should not experiment with bee pollen.

The Bottom Line About Bee Pollen and Health

At best, bee pollen could be an alternative to your daily vitamin, but the evidence isn’t there yet. All the immune boosting, cancer-fighting claims of bee pollen are centered on the vitamins and minerals found in it. You can get these vitamins and minerals from multiple sources, not just from bee pollen.


FDA Notice on Bee Pollen

Stefan Bogdanov, Pollen: Production, Nutrition and Health: A Review, Bee Product Science, 2014, p. 3.

University of Utah Health Care. (n.d.). Bee Pollen. Retrieved February 27, 2016.

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