What Is Pine Pollen?

Pine pollen is a yellow, powdery substance from pine cones of various pine tree species. The three species most commonly studied include Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Chinese red pine (Pinus tabuliformis), and Masson pine (Pinus massoniana). Pine pollen contains chemicals called saccharides (types of sugar), amino acids, and phytosterols.

Very little is known about the nutritional value of pine pollen, and the science supporting any health advantages is weak. Nevertheless, pine pollen has been studied in vitro (in cells and test tubes in a laboratory), in animals, and in people for:

Pine pollen should not be confused with pine bark, which has also been studied for several health conditions. This article covers studies of pine pollen, but there is not yet enough evidence to recommend it to treat any disease.

A green Scots pine cone (Pinus sylvestris)
David and Micha Sheldon / Getty Images

Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. Choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF, whenever possible.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, it doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talking to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and checking in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is important.

Supplement Facts

  • Active Ingredient: Saccharides (types of sugar), amino acids, and phytosterols
  • Alternate Names: Pinus massoniana, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus tabuliformis, pinus pollen, cracked cell wall, songhuang, song hua fen
  • Legal Status: Over-the-counter (OTC) dietary supplement in the United States
  • Suggested Dose: No suggested dose for pine pollen
  • Safety Considerations: Inadequate information; caution advised in children, people with liver or kidney problems, and pregnancy or breastfeeding

Uses of Pine Pollen

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Scientists reviewed pine pollen research articles from three Chinese and two English databases. After reviewing 239 articles, the scientists noted that not enough evidence was available to conclude pine pollen’s use as a treatment for disease.

The articles included 180 studies about pine pollen pharmacology, 37 studies about pine pollen used in people, and 22 review articles. This review was useful as a summary of future pine pollen research directions. Pine pollen has been studied in vitro and in animals for:

  • Aging
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Decreased tumor growth
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Fatigue
  • Immune system regulation
  • Intestinal health
  • Liver health

It's also been studied in humans for:

  • Bed sores
  • Constipation
  • Chickenpox
  • Eczema
  • Enlarged prostate
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Side effects of chemotherapy
  • Skin inflammation from diapers
  • Skin ulcers

Although pine pollen has been studied for several health conditions, there's not enough evidence to suggest it can treat any disease. If you plan to try a pine pollen supplement, ask your healthcare provider before taking it.

Colorectal Cancer

Scientists studied pine pollen polysaccharides in mice with colon cancer tumor cells. They found that tumor growth was slowed or prevented. The researchers also conducted in vitro studies as part of the same experiment. They discovered that pine pollen polysaccharide (carbohydrate) stopped colorectal cancer cell division and triggered apoptosis (programmed cell death) of colorectal cancer cells.

These results are not necessarily transferable to humans. More research is needed.


Limited in vitro and animal studies suggest that pine pollen may have anti-inflammatory activity.

Scientists who studied pine pollen polysaccharide in mice with ulcerative colitis, observed that the body weight of the mice increased, which was a sign of improvement. An additional outcome was a decrease in inflammatory chemicals.

Researchers have also studied pine pollen extract in mice with arthritis. They found oral pine pollen extract decreased arthritis swelling and lowered inflammatory chemicals.

Another in vitro study of pine pollen extract in human cells showed anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

These results do not mean that these effects may occur in humans. Further research is needed.

Liver Health

Researchers studied an herbal formula with pine pollen in rats with liver disease caused by connective tissue build-up. They found that the pine pollen extract decreased tissue buildup in the rat livers.

These results are not necessarily transferable to humans. More research is needed.

Wound Healing

Researchers conducted an in vitro study to determine if pine pollen would increase cell growth to heal wounds faster. They studied the effects of pine pollen polysaccharides (carbohydrates) in animal cells. The study results reported an increase in the production of cell division proteins.

These results do not mean that these effects may occur in humans. Further research is needed.

Other Uses

Some brands of pine pollen focus on the theory that phytoandrogens (plant hormones) could function like the hormone testosterone in your body. Some research has been performed to test this theory, but not enough evidence exists yet to draw conclusions.

For example, there are preliminary studies about phytoandrogens of other plants used to treat enlarged prostate in rats. But quality evidence is lacking to support the use of pine pollen as a source of testosterone in humans.

Far more research is needed to determine whether pine pollen benefits people trying to increase testosterone levels—which may not be a good idea in the first place.

For some people, low testosterone levels may indicate an underlying medical condition requiring treatment. Rather than self-treating, speak to your healthcare provider if you're experiencing symptoms.

What Are the Side Effects of Pine Pollen?

Your healthcare provider may suggest pine pollen for a condition. However, consuming a supplement like pine pollen may have potential side effects. These side effects may be common or severe. 

Common Side Effects

Researchers reviewed studies of pine pollen, and one study reported side effects of diarrhea, bloating, and loss of appetite. But in this study, pine pollen was combined with metformin, a drug that can cause those side effects. Therefore, it isn't possible to say if the side effects were due to metformin or pine pollen.

Severe Side Effects

Many people are allergic to pollen from trees and other plants. Don't take pine pollen products if you have pine allergies since the products may trigger allergic reactions. If you have a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, seek medical help immediately. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include but are not limited to hives, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and swelling of the face and lips.

Call 911 and get medical help immediately if you're having a severe allergic reaction or any of your symptoms feel life-threatening.


Do keep the following precautions in mind when using pine pollen:

Allergy: Many people are allergic to pollen from trees and other plants. Don't take pine pollen products if you have pine allergies since the products may trigger allergic reactions.

Hormonal effects: Pine pollen supplements could theoretically affect testosterone levels, leading to unwanted side effects. Like other hormones, testosterone levels should stay within a specific range.

Other modifications: Children, people who are pregnant or nursing, or people who have liver or kidney disease, shouldn't take pine pollen. Not enough information is available to establish safety in these groups.

Dosage: How Much Pine Pollen Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

There is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for pine pollen or related products. The correct dose for you (if any) may depend on your age, the condition you're looking to treat, and your overall health.

Some doses listed on supplement labels may be unsafe. Always speak to your healthcare provider before taking this or any supplement since it may interfere with other medications or treatments for another condition.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Pine Pollen?

Pine pollen supplements could theoretically affect testosterone levels, leading to unwanted side effects.

If you feel you've ingested too much pine pollen, seek immediate guidance from a healthcare provider.


Pine pollen supplements could theoretically affect testosterone levels, leading to unwanted side effects. Use caution when using other products that impact hormone levels.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to learn which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Pine Pollen

Storage instructions vary for different products. Carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Try to store your medications in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid pouring unused and expired products down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medications. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about how to dispose of your medications or supplements.

If you plan to travel with pine pollen or other medicines, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate might be a helpful resource.

Similar Supplements

A supplement similar to pine pollen is bee pollen. Bee pollen may include pine pollen.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there other natural ways to boost testosterone?

    Testosterone levels change over time. Specific lifestyle changes may be helpful if you're concerned about reduced energy or libido. These include exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, reaching and/or maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and managing stress. While there’s no evidence that pine pollen can keep your testosterone levels from falling if you try it, consult your healthcare provider first. They may check your hormone levels, help you weigh the pros and cons, and discuss whether it's appropriate.

  • What is the difference between pine pollen and pine bark?

    Pine pollen comes from pine cones, and pine bark is on the trunk and branches of the pine tree. Even though they come from the same plant, pine pollen and pine bark contain different chemicals. Pine bark extract has been studied to treat high blood pressure. Always carefully read the label of a supplement before you take it.

  • Is pine pollen an adaptogen?

    Maybe. Adaptogens are natural medicines that are studied for hormone regulation. If further pine pollen study shows that it can regulate testosterone or cortisol levels in people, it could be called an adaptogen in the future. Just because a supplement is marketed as an adaptogen does not mean it has hormone-regulating properties.

Sources of Pine Pollen & What to Look For

Pine pollen is sold in many health food stores and online. It is sold in the following forms:

  • Powder
  • Liquid extracts
  • Capsules with powder inside
  • Capsules with extract inside

Many brands combine pine pollen with other ingredients, so it is essential to read the label carefully before you buy a supplement.

Remember that dietary supplements like pine pollen are unregulated by the FDA. According to government standards, it is illegal to market a dietary supplement as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. The FDA does not test such products for safety or effectiveness.

Sometimes, a product may deliver ingredient doses that differ from what's specified on its label. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances. Some consumers seek products certified by ConsumerLab, USP, or NSF. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective. Still, they ensure that the product is manufactured correctly, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful contaminants.

Food Sources of Pine Pollen

Pine pollen comes from pine cones.

Pine Pollen Supplements

Pine pollen is usually sold in capsules and powder form.


Pine pollen is a supplement made from pollen in the pine cones of pine trees. It has been studied in cells, animals, and humans for various health conditions, including skin diseases and enlarged prostate. But there is insufficient scientific evidence to recommend it for any specific use.

There is not sufficient safety information about pine pollen either. Because many people are allergic to pollen, use caution if you have allergies. Like any supplement, be careful with unfamiliar brands your healthcare provider does not recommend.

Pine pollen supplements are found in health food stores, pharmacies, and online. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplement. It might interact with your medication or worsen an existing health condition. 

16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Kopylov AT, Malsagova KA, Stepanov AA, Kaysheva AL. Diversity of Plant Sterols Metabolism: The Impact on Human Health, Sport, and Accumulation of Contaminating SterolsNutrients. 2021;13(5):1623. Published 2021 May 12. doi:10.3390/nu13051623

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  5. Ferguson JJA, Oldmeadow C, Bentley D, Eslick S, Garg ML. Effect of a polyphenol-rich dietary supplement containing Pinus massoniana bark extract on blood pressure in healthy adults: A parallel, randomized placebo-controlled trialComplement Ther Med. 2022;71:102896. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102896

  6.  Cai T, Morgia G, Carrieri G, et al. An improvement in sexual function is related to better quality of life, regardless of urinary function improvement: results from the IDIProst® Gold StudyArch Ital Urol Androl. 2013;85(4):184-189. Published 2013 Dec 31. doi:10.4081/aiua.2013.4.184

  7. Shang H, Niu X, Cui W, et al. Anti-tumor activity of polysaccharides extracted from Pinus massoniana pollen in colorectal cancer- in vitro and in vivo studies. Food Funct. 2022;13(11):6350-6361. Published 2022 Jun 6. doi:10.1039/d1fo03908c

  8. Li Z, Wang H, Wang Z, Geng Y. Pine Pollen Polysaccharides' and Sulfated Polysaccharides' Effects on UC Mice through Modulation of Cell Tight Junctions and RIPK3-Dependent NecroptosisPathwaysMolecules. 2022;27(22):7682. Published 2022 Nov 8. doi:10.3390/molecules27227682

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  13. Azis A, Mostary M, Sume IJ, et al. The efficacy of using pine (Pinus massoniana) pollen as an alternative to synthetic steroids in producing monosex male Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus, L.). Aquaculture, Fish, and Fisheries. 2021;2(5):375-383.

  14. Tao R, Liu E, Zhao X, et al. Combination of Ligustri Lucidi Fructus with Ecliptae Herba and their phytoestrogen or phytoandrogen like active pharmaceutical ingredients alleviateoestrogen/testosterone-induced benign prostatic hyperplasia through regulatingsteroid 5-α-reductase. Phytomedicine. 2022;102:154169. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2022.154169

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  16. National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplement Label Database.

Additional Reading

By Carla Eisenstein, PharmD
Carla Eisenstein is a pharmacist and medical writer passionate about clear communication in science and medicine. She has experience in drug information, medical communication, social media, and patient advocacy.

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process