The Health Benefits of Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is a natural mixture of flower pollen, nectar, bee secretions, enzymes, honey and wax used as a nutritional supplement. Natural health practitioners promote it as a superfood due to its nutrient-rich profile that includes tocopherol, niacin, thiamine, biotin, folic acid, polyphenols, carotenoid pigments, phytosterols, enzymes, and co-enzymes.

It's widely available in dietary supplement form used for the following health conditions:

In addition, bee pollen is said to enhance energy, sharpen memory, slow the aging process, promote weight loss, and improve athletic performance.

bee pollen
Verywell / Emily Roberts

Health Benefits

To date, scientific support for the health effects of bee pollen is fairly limited. However, there's some evidence that bee pollen may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:

Allergies

One of the most common uses for bee pollen is the management of seasonal allergies, such as hay fever. It's thought that ingesting pollens will help the body to build resistance to these potential allergens and, in turn, reduce allergy symptoms.

Although very few studies have tested the use of bee pollen as a remedy for seasonal allergies, some animal-based research indicates that bee pollen may provide anti-allergy effects.

A 2008 mice study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed bee pollen may inhibit activity in mast cells, a class of cells involved in releasing histamine in response to allergens and, as a result, triggering the symptoms associated with allergies.

While bee pollen shows promise for treating seasonal allergies, there is a lack of human studies to confirm its use as an allergy treatment.

Cholesterol

Bee pollen may help to lower high cholesterol. Two animal studies one published in the journal Nutrients in 2017 and another published in the journal Molecules in 2018 found bee pollen lowers LDL and total cholesterol levels.

However, research in humans is needed to confirm these results before bee pollen can be recommended for lowering cholesterol.

Liver Health

Several animal studies show bee pollen hay help protect the liver against damage and may even help repair liver damage from alcoholism and drug use.

A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found bee pollen promotes healing in liver cells and protects against damage with fewer side effects than milk thistle.

Osteoporosis

Bee pollen shows promise in the treatment of osteoporosis, suggests an animal-based study published in 2012.

In tests on rats, the study's authors determined that bee pollen may help boost bone levels of calcium and phosphate and protect against osteoporosis-related bone loss.

Possible Side Effects

Serious allergic reactions to bee pollen have been reported, including potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, shortness of breath, light-headedness, and severe whole-body reactions.

These reactions occurred with small amounts of bee pollen (i.e., less than one teaspoon). Most of these case reports involved people with known allergies to pollen. If you have a pollen allergy, it's crucial to take caution and consult your physician prior to consuming bee pollen.

Interactions

Taking bee pollen with warfarin (Coumadin) might result in an increased chance of bruising or bleeding.

Dosage and Preparation 

Bee pollen is sold as granules. According to the National Institutes of Health, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bee pollen.

Alternative health proponents recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon dose gradually increasing up to 2 tablespoons a day, and watch for symptoms of an adverse reaction including itching, swelling, shortness of breath, light-headedness, and severe whole-body reactions. Children should start with just a few granules.

Bee pollen can be sprinkled over cereals, yogurt, or oatmeal, added to homemade granola, or mixed into smoothies.

Bee pollen should be stored in a cool, dark place, like a pantry, refrigerator, or freezer, and kept out of direct sunlight.

What to Look For 

Widely available for purchase online, supplements containing bee pollen are sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Look for products that are all natural with no additives that have not been heated or dried, which can destroy its enzymes.

Other Questions 

I'm allergic to bees. Is it safe to use bee pollen?

It is not recommended that people with bee allergies take bee pollen as it may cause serious side effects, including anaphylaxis.

What does bee pollen taste like?

While individual tastes vary, bee pollen has a generally sweet and flowery taste but can be slightly bitter. Its texture is powdery.

A Word From Verywell

If you're considering the use of bee pollen for a health condition, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.