What Is Pine Pollen?

Pine pollen is gaining popularity among men looking to boost their testosterone levels. Typically taken in supplement form, the powdery substance is made up of grains discharged from the male part of the pine cone of tree species such as Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Chinese red pine (Pinus massoniana).

Often referred to as a “superfood” or “nutritional powerhouse,” pine pollen is touted as a top source of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. But very little is known about the nutritional content of pine pollen, and the science supporting any health advantages is weak.

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

What Is Pine Pollen Used For?

Proponents of pine pollen suggest it may promote healing and protect against a wide range of issues, including:

Proponents also suggest pine pollen may stimulate the immune system, boost brain health, support detoxification, promote weight loss, alleviate pain, and prevent some forms of cancer.

Pine pollen is also sometimes marketed as an adaptogen—a natural substance used to increase your body’s resistance to the negative effects of stress.

Scientific evidence supporting any of these benefits is in fact lacking. There have been limited in vitro and rodent studies that have investigated pine pollen's potential in a few key areas. However, results of such research cannot automatically be extended to humans.

Increased Testosterone

Proponents suggest that pine pollen contains the hormone testosterone and that taking pine pollen supplements can benefit men struggling with a decline in their testosterone levels.

Many men who take pine pollen believe that it can offer benefits such as improved athletic performance, greater muscle mass, enhanced sexual function, and increased energy and libido.

However, there have been only a couple of studies that have investigated the association between testosterone and pine pollen. Researchers who published these reports were only examining the testosterone concentration in the Scotch pine pollen. To know for sure whether pine pollen provides any benefit to men who are trying to increase testosterone levels—which may not be a good idea in the first place—far more research is needed.

For some people, low testosterone levels may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Rather than self-treating, speak to your health care provider if you're experiencing symptoms.

Reduced Inflammation

Limited in vitro studies have suggested that pine pollen may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. In addition, a limited study conducted in mice provided a preliminary suggestion that pine pollen may be helpful in the treatment of chronic inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.

But studies conducted in test tubes and on rodents are generally only helpful in determining if more studies are warranted. To date, it is still unclear if pine pollen has any potential in the treatment of any medical condition in humans.

Anti-Aging

A small study performed on mice and published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity investigated the potential of pine pollen to combat markers of aging. The study authors concluded that pine pollen may have the potential to slow the process of aging and attenuate age-related diseases in humans.

This area of investigation is in its very preliminary stages, and more studies are needed to see if there is any potential in humans.

Disease Prevention

In a report published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2016, researchers found some evidence that an herbal formula containing Song Hua Fen (a pine pollen product used in traditional Chinese medicine) may aid in the prevention of a liver problem called hepatic fibrosis. This variety of pine pollen was sourced from a different species of pine than what is typically found in the pine pollen products available in the United States.

Some preliminary studies have shown that substances extracted from Chinese red pine may offer certain health benefits, such as anti-tumor effects and protection against oxidative stress, while extracts of Scots pine may possess cancer-fighting properties. However, none of these studies tested the effects of pine pollen in particular.

Possible Side Effects

Pine pollen is sourced from trees, which may lead you to believe it's safe. But like any supplement without clinical trials, very little is known about possible side effects and safety. Don't take pine pollen products if you have pine allergies, since they may trigger allergic reactions.

Like other hormones, testosterone levels should stay within a certain range. Theoretically, using pine pollen supplements could affect testosterone levels, leading to unwanted side effects.

Pregnant and nursing women, children, and teens shouldn't take pine pollen.

Dosage and Preparation

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 factors including your age, the condition you're looking to treat, and your overall health.

Always speak to your health care provider before taking this or any supplement, since they may interfere with other medications or treatments for another condition.

What to Look For 

Pine pollen is sold in many health foods stores and online. It is usually sold in powder form, although there are also some liquid extracts and capsules (with powder inside) on the market. Many brands combine pine pollen with other ingredients, so it is important to read the label before you buy.

Keep in mind that dietary supplements like pine pollen are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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. Such products are not tested by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.

In some cases, 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 look for products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, U.S. Pharmacopeia, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Other Questions

Are there other natural ways to boost testosterone?
As men get older, their testosterone levels naturally decline. If you're concerned about reduced energy or libido, certain lifestyle changes may be helpful. These include exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, reaching and/or maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and keeping your stress in check.

While there’s no evidence that pine pollen can keep your testosterone levels from falling, if you choose to try it, be sure to consult your health care provider first. They may check your hormone levels, help you weigh the pros and cons, and discuss whether it's appropriate for you. 

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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.
  1. Graikou K, Chinou I. Qualitative and quantitative determination of natural testosterone type steroids in pollen from two Greek Pinus species (P. nigra and P. heldreichii)Planta Med. 2013;79(13). doi:10.1055/s-0033-1352118

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