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Bee Pollen

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The Many Health Benefits of Bee Pollen Granules

Dixie Schexnaildre
01-05-17
*I am not a medical doctor, please consult your physician for changes in health and before beginning any nutrition program.
My articles should inspire your own research and conclusions.

Years ago, I studied Herbal Medicine and learned of many therapeutic effects offered by ingesting and applying bee pollen granules and other bee products. Traditional therapeutic uses include: treating burns, clearing eczema, and detoxifying the body of heavy metals.
DISCLAIMER: This, of course, applies only to persons who are not allergic to bees and bee products.

You might be wondering how bee pollen is different from honey or Royal Jelly. The pollen granules are made when the bee gathers the male flower seed (anthers) and adds bee digestive enzymes. Honey is made from the sugary flower nectar and mixed with bee saliva increasing the moisture level. The pollen and the nectar offer differing nutrient profiles, with pollen being more complete. Royal Jelly is a secretion of mostly water which provides nourishment for developing larvae.

In addition to superficial skin application, bee pollen granules offer incredible health benefits as a nutrient-dense food source. Depending on which soil and climate conditions of the flower source (Nogueira, Iglesias, Feás, & Estevinho, 2012) to which the bees are exposed (and if human care is taken to avoid harvest near a pesticide-sprayed crop), the finished product generally contains nearly all of the nutrients that the human body requires (Freire, Lins, Dórea, Santos, Camara, & Silva, 2012) including proteins (in the form of amino acids), essential fatty acids, and easily digested carbohydrates. On top of the macro-nutrient profile, is the impressive array of vitamins, (such as A, E, D, and B-complex) mineral elements and water, also present.

Scientific publications of more recent years continue to support the ancient medicinal health claims of bee products. Some of the therapeutic properties, specifically, are the anti-inflammatory qualities (great for autoimmune/ arthritis suffers), digestive support (one of the primary reasons I first sought bee pollen granules), anti-cancer properties, immune-strengthening/ cold-fighting (anti-viral) potential, and antifungal qualities, to name a few!
Patients currently undergoing chemotherapy can consume bee pollen granules to lessen the nausea associated with treatment. (Komosinska-Vassev, Olczyk, Kaźmierczak, Mencner, & Olczyk, 2015) For women that have undergone chemotherapy, menopause can be especially trying, as hormone-replacement-therapy is discouraged. Bee products, such as royal jelly can improve the symptoms of menopause without synthetic hormones. (Seyyedi, Rafiean-Kopaei, & Miraj, 2016) Men with prostate issues have also shown lessened symptoms with bee pollen granules in their diet. (Serving suggestion: I like to sprinkle them over oatmeal.)

With centuries of successful treatment results, the continued validation of ancient health claims is not surprising. However, considering this is a vegan/ cruelty-free promoting blog, the proverbial ‘elephant in the room (albeit tiny one in this case)’ must be addressed.

Eating bee pollen is taking food from the hive, which taxes the bees by forcing more work, “The loss of pollen mobilizes the bees. It increases both the number of field bees and the number of flights. The amount of pollen collected from one colony during one day amounts to 50–250 g. According to National Data, one bee colony gives 1 to 7 kg of pollen a year” (Komosinska-Vassev, Olczyk, Kaźmierczak, Mencner, & Olczyk, 2015). With this in mind, I can understand where a particular subset of people will state that bee pollen granules are animal foods, therefore, a plant-based eater cannot (should not) consume/use them as it is creating unnecessary burden on the bees to make more food for themselves. This is valid from one perspective. Although, this additional pollination may be supporting more plant-food growth. Plant-based eaters also ‘take away’ from other herbivores by using the food sources animals might eat, as we harvest for ourselves.

I’d like to offer another perspective and would enjoy hearing your thoughts and learning which camp you identify with. One of the first ethical considerations in medicine is “do no harm”. If nature is offering us an incredible medicinal product, which does not require us to destroy acres of rainforest per second, displacing many species -in an effort to extract chemical components with which to create BigPharma/commercial pharmaceuticals, is using the bee pollen for healing acceptable?
There is much to consider when we look at the ‘big picture’ and our interactions with our limited resources. I ask that you consider all sides and research your opinion, before taking a hard stance on any topic. ‘When you know better, you do better’- a roughly paraphrased concept by Maya Angelou. Which is ‘better’ to you?

Be (bee) well.

REFERENCES

Freire, K. R. L., Lins, A. C. S., Dórea, M. C., Santos, F. A. R., Camara, C. A., & Silva, T. M. S. (2012). Palynological Origin, Phenolic Content, and Antioxidant Properties of Honeybee-Collected Pollen from Bahia, Brazil. Molecules, 17(12), 1652–1664. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules17021652

Komosinska-Vassev, K., Olczyk, P., Kaźmierczak, J., Mencner, L., & Olczyk, K. (2015). Bee Pollen: Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Application. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2015, 297425. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/297425

Nogueira, C., Iglesias, A., Feás, X., & Estevinho, L. M. (2012). Commercial Bee Pollen with Different Geographical Origins: A Comprehensive Approach. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 13(9), 11173–11187. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijms130911173

Seyyedi, F., Rafiean-Kopaei, M., & Miraj, S. (2016). Comparison of the Effects of Vaginal Royal Jelly and Vaginal Estrogen on Quality of Life, Sexual and Urinary Function in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR, 10(5), QC01–QC05. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2016/17844.7715