Have you ever thought of eating pollen?
I know, I know, it’s not in any foods. But, it’s in a lot of supplements these days. Yes, supplements for humans, not bees, in case you were wondering.
Turns out, those little industrious insects are onto something. Pollen is a super food that has soothing and antioxidant properties. But, is it just as good for humans as it is for bees?
I’ve been taking bee pollen supplements – Apibal Freeze-Cracked Bee Pollen, to be precise – to find out. Here’s what happened:
What The Heck Is Bee Pollen?
Bee bread. Little bees collect pollen from plants, mix it with their saliva or nectar and store it in their hives. Here, they coat it with honey and wax and leave it to naturally ferment. Once ready, they happily munch on it to get all the energy they need to fly away and do their important job every day.
Pollen is a very complex thing. It’s made up of more than 250 substances, including:
- Antioxidants, including flavonoids
- Essential amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
- Minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium
- Sugars, including fructose and glucose
- Vitamins, including A, C, D and E
That’s its strength. And its Achille’s heel.
Why Is Pollen Good For Your Skin And Health?
Auntie Google will tell you that pollen can do EVERYTHING, from reducing wrinkles to fighting cancer and make you live until you’re 125 (I wish!).
We’ll only cover the claims that can be backed up by scientific studies (cos that’s how we roll here), ok?
1. Pollen Has Antioxidant Properties
A 2005 study shows that the enzymatic hydrolysates in bee bread are powerful antioxidants. They fight the free radicals the cause premature wrinkles, including superoxide anion radical and hydroxyl radicals (the worst culprits!).
They don’t work only against wrinkles. The researchers think they can help with cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Just how to give you an idea of how powerful they are, they work better than vitamin A and almost as well as fermented foods, including sake and vinegar.
2. Pollen Has Soothing Properties
A 2010 study found that bee pollen mixed with honey has anti-inflammatory properties that help the body heal faster. Yes, that includes soothing inflammation, the chronic type of inflammation that makes you age faster.
Another study done on rats backs this up. Scientists suggest its anti-inflammatory properties are so powerful, “bee pollen would be beneficial not only as a dietary supplement but also as a functional food.”
The problem? Bee pollen works by inhibiting COX-2 but not COX-1 (they are enzymes responsible for inflammation and pain). That’s the same effect as Vioxx, the drug that turned out to increase the risk of heart attacks in susceptible individuals.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Yep. Research on bee pollen as human food is still in its early stages so we don’t know exactly if its anti-inflammatory effects do you more harm than good. Or vice versa.
But, there’s more. I’m sure you know where I’m going next: allergies. Bee pollen is notorious for causing them.
Of course, you can just say, “I know I’m allergic to bee pollen, so I wouldn’t go anywhere near bee pollen supplements, duh!” Good, because if you are allergic to pollen, you stay well away from it in any shape or form.
But, avoiding pollen allergies is tricky. Turns out, you can get an allergic reaction from a bee pollen supplement even if you don’t have a history of bee pollen allergy!
Remember when I told you bee pollen’s complexity was its Achille’s heel? The more stuff it contains, the more chances someone is gonna react badly to something.
Bee pollen allergies are serious. You can get an anaphylactic reaction, swelling of lids, lips and throat, problems swallowing… A severe reaction could kill you.
Is it worth the risk?
Apibal Freeze-Cracked Bee Pollen
Eating bee pollen ain’t easy. All its goodness is well protected inside its granule’s hard shell. Apibal uses a delicate freeze-cracking process to open these shells without damaging the nutrients inside. Plus, this way, they’re easier to swallow, too.
A box of Apibal Freeze-Cracked Bee Pollen contains 60 capsule, but it’ll only last you a month. You need to take two a day.
You can swallow them as is or open them up and pour the powder into a smoothie. That’s what I do. I’m a smoothie fanatic, so it’s easier for me to pour the powder into my daily smoothie than swallowing a pill. I do load up on the berries, though – this stuff doesn’t have a very nice taste so I have to cover it to gulp it down!
I didn’t have any allergic reactions (phew!), but I noticed I have more energy when I take the supplements. As it has so many nutrients, it may supplement some of the deficiencies I may have that I don’t know about.
Should You Try A Bee Pollen Supplement?
That depends. If you need more energy, it may be worth a try. But do talk to your health provider first. Just in case.