How to Take Bee Pollen

Three Parts:Recognizing the Risks and Side Effects of Bee PollenPurchasing Natural Bee Pollen SupplementsTaking Bee Pollen Supplements

Natural bee pollen consists of plant pollen collected by worker bees, combined with plant nectar and bee saliva. Commercially, beekeepers collect the bee pollen directly from within the beehives. It is then used by natural health practitioners to treat health issues like constipation and cancer, and to boost the immune system and help with weight loss.[1][2] Although there are many bee pollen supplements and medicines currently on the market, there is no scientific evidence that bee pollen effectively treats any particular conditions, diseases or health issues, or is an effective nutritional aid.[3] Before you take bee pollen supplements, you need to understand the possible risks and side effects of this so-called “superfood”.[4]

Part 1
Recognizing the Risks and Side Effects of Bee Pollen

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    Understand the origin of bee pollen. Bees gather pollen from flowering plants as they search for nectar in various flowers. Bee pollen contains the gametes—male reproductive cells of flowers—as well as bees' digestive enzymes.[5]
    • Natural bee pollen contains vitamins and minerals in addition to trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids. The exact composition of bee pollen, however, varies depending on the plant from which the pollen was gathered. It is difficult to track the plant source of all bee pollen, and, as a result, the amount of healthy elements in bee pollen is hard to determine. Pollen taken from plants growing in areas affected by toxins and heavy metal contamination may still carry these toxins, and can be detrimental when consumed.[6]
    • Many physicians feel the benefits of bee pollen for humans are outweighed by the dangers associated with its use. Many bee pollen supplements also contain other chemicals or products that can cause negative side effects or allergic reactions.[7]
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    Note possible allergic reactions to bee pollen. Some people may be allergic to ingested pollen and their allergic reactions could range in seriousness from mild to fatal. Wheezing, skin discomfort and a rash are all possible signs of a reaction to bee pollen. Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that causes swollen airways and shock, can also occur.[8]
    • If you are susceptible to allergies or asthma, avoid consuming bee pollen.
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    Understand the other risks and side effects of ingesting bee pollen. Studies have found substances that may cause liver damage, and renal failure in bee pollen. The popular notion that bee pollen is a “superfood” and “naturally good for you” is a false one, as many natural foods can contain toxins that are not good for your body.[9]
    • The safety of bee pollen for young children and pregnant women is not conclusive. It is recommended that young children and pregnant women avoid consuming bee pollen as there is no medical evidence to suggest it is safe to consume.[10]
    • Bee pollen is popular among athletes for being “ergogenic”, which means it enhances athletic performance. But there is no scientific evidence that bee pollen has any ergogenic qualities.[11]
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    Be aware of the risks associated with bee pollen weight loss supplements. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several bee pollen weight loss products have been found to contain chemicals and additives that can cause serious heart issues, stroke, chest pain, seizures, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, and diarrhea. The FDA has received more than 50 reports of serious health issues caused by tainted bee pollen weight loss products, and is currently testing other bee pollen weight loss products for undeclared drugs that could put consumers at risk.[12]
    • Avoid the following tainted weight loss products: Zi Xiu Tang, Ultimate Formula, Fat Zero, Bella Vi Amp'd Up, Insane Amp'd Up, Slim Trim U, Infinity, Perfect Body Solution, Asset Extreme, Asset Extreme Plus, Asset Bold, and Asset Bee Pollen.[13]
    • You should also be wary of bee pollen weight loss products that make unproven claims about treating or preventing obesity, allergies, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
    • There may be risks associated with bee pollen supplements in general. The FDA monitors the safety of dietary supplements, but it does not require supplements to adhere to certain guidelines or standards before it is available on the market. The FDA also does not assume liability for the contamination of natural supplements, so a great deal of responsibility is left up to the manufacturer and the consumer.[14]
    • Several natural bee pollen supplements have been red flagged by the FDA.[15] It’s important to research information on the ingredients in the supplement and the possible health risks reported by other consumers or the FDA as a result of the supplement.

Part 2
Purchasing Natural Bee Pollen Supplements

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    Check the ingredients listed in the supplement. Look online for a list of ingredients or check the manufacturer’s label.[16]
    • Confirm the product does not contain toxic materials like mercury, metal shavings, and pesticides. You should also check that there are no filler ingredients like cellulose, caramel color and titanium dioxide in the product.
    • Though the supplement may claim to be “all natural.” this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to consume. If the supplement says “natural flavors,” this could mean monosodium-glutamate (MSG) has been added. Many people suffer from severe allergies to MSG and it should not be included in a reputable dietary supplement.
    • You should also look for any “mold inhibitors” or “chemicals to promote color retention.” These are in fact chemical preservatives that could be harmful when consumed.
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    Call the supplement company to confirm the purity of the product. A reputable producer or manufacturer should be able to provide evidence that the supplement is pure and in fact “all natural.” Ask the company if they provide a certificate of analysis (COA) for each batch of products.[17]
    • The certificate of analysis is issued after independent labs perform tests to verify the active ingredients in the supplement and the purity of the product. The certificate ensures the company is selling high-quality supplements.
    • Find out the current batch number of the supplement that you are researching and request a COA for the batch. Check the COA for a list of levels of heavy metals and micro-biological contamination in the product batch. Some companies have COAs available on their website. You can also ask your local health food store or vendor if they maintain current COAs for bee pollen supplements.
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    Determine where the bee pollen in the supplement comes from. Talk to the manufacturer or check the manufacturer’s label to determine where the bee pollen in the product is sourced. A major concern when choosing bee pollen supplements is the amount of pollution the pollen has been exposed to. Bee pollen soaks up pollution from the air, as well as chemicals in the environment. When the pollen is produced in cities that are industrialized, it absorbs any toxic chemicals in the air.[18]
    • The leading sources of bee pollen are: the United States, Canada, China, and Australia. Avoid taking supplements with bee pollen from China, as many areas of the country have severe air pollution.
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    Look for bee pollen products that are freeze-dried. These products should be available in health food stores, and they can also be ordered online. Bee pollen should not be processed or heat dried, as heat removes essential nutrients and enzymes in the pollen. Freeze-dried bee pollen should be considered a superior form of the product.[19]
    • Though there is no scientific evidence that bee pollen can treat particular diseases, conditions, or provide nutritional benefits, purchasing freeze-dried bee pollen ensures you are receiving pollen that has not been sapped of any health benefits.

Part 3
Taking Bee Pollen Supplements

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    Speak to your doctor before you take the supplement. Because the health benefits of bee pollen have not been confirmed or supported by the medical community, talk to your doctor about any possible side effects before you take a bee pollen supplement. Your doctor may be able to give you information on other medically confirmed treatments for your condition or issue. She may also suggest lifestyle or dietary changes that may be more effective than bee pollen supplements. If you have allergic asthma or any blood disorders or liver disease, bee pollen may not be safe for you to take. Your doctor can advise you if this is the case.[20]
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    Find out about drug interaction. If you are taking any other supplements or any prescription medication, speak with a doctor or pharmacist about drug interaction. Some medications and supplements, when taken together, can produce unwanted side-effects. If anything you are taking has a potential interaction issue with bee pollen, your doctor or pharmacist should be able to tell you.[21]
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    Start with a small dose. If you do decide to use bee pollen, you should begin by taking a small dose to ensure you will not have an adverse reaction. You can increase your dose gradually to make sure it is safe for you. You can begin with 1/8 teaspoon per day, increasing by 1/8 teaspoon up to six teaspoons.
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    Stop taking bee pollen if you experience any adverse side effects or reactions. If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction or a negative reaction to bee pollen, stop taking it right away. Speak to your doctor about treatment for your allergic reaction. Bee pollen may actually aggravate allergy sufferers if they are allergic to any of the pollens in the supplement.[22]

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Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine