Bee pollen is a valuable apitherapeutic product greatly appreciated by the natural medicine because of its potential medical and nutritional applications. It demonstrates a series of actions such as antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anticancer immunostimulating, and local analgesic.
This is a direct quote from the peer-reviewed journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Pretty amazing stuff, right? Wait, it says bee pollen is 'anticancer'... can bee pollen really cure cancer?
Let's start with the basics - pollen as a food
While most people are aware bees produce honet to store food, many people don't know that honey is for the adult bees whereas the larvae and young bees consume large amounts of pollen to grew and develop into healthy bees! Basically honey is an energy source, whereas pollen is pretty much a whole food containing a ore diverse and better ratio of nutrition.
One tablespoon of pollen can contain over 20% of your daily protein and fibre requirements, over half of your vitamin E, folic acid, Zinc and Manganese requirements and up to 6 times your vitamin A needs! However, these levels vary considerably depending on what plant the bees collected the pollen from.
Luckily for us, Western Australian pollens, and Marri pollen in particular, have exceptionally high levels of many of the key nutrients!
Wait, what about 'cracked' pollen?
Many places advertise 'cracked' bee pollen, on the theory that pollen has tough cell walls and absorption of nutrients is very low unless they are 'cracked' open. 'Increased bioavailability' is often the term used. This is often comes under the 'everybody knows' body of knowledge. Multiple studies have shown up to 100% pollen digestibility without cracking, most likely due to the cell wall naturally dissolving in acidic conditions (such as out stomach!).
So the evidence for benefits of 'cracked' pollen for humans is scarce at best.
OK, so it's a good food. What about a miracle cancer cure?
Firstup, if pollen were a miracle cancer cure it would be used all around the world as such! If you read the whole article making this claim, it's when pollen is taken alongside chemotherapeutic agents, the number of people who felt a significant therapeutic effect significantly increased. There is no direct link/cause/study proving that pollen will destroy cancer cells in a human body.
What pollen DOES do is boost overall health due to the high levels of vitamins, amino acids, etc, etc. This means that, for instance, a person going through chemo can cope with (and heal from) the treatment better. The high levels of antioxidents means pollen helps the body scavenge free-radicals and all kinds of nasties. A great benefiut by all means, but it's not a cancer cure on its own.
There have been a number of small-scale studies giving experimental links between pollen consumption and improved mental health, reducing cholesterol and reducing inflammation.
So yes, pollen can produce some amazing benefits!
Well, I'm convinced! How do I use bee pollen?
The simplest way is to just eat a teaspoon! The bee pollen granules are crunchy, and people describe the flavour as 'nutty' or 'plant-y' depending on their pallet. However, if this isn't to your taste, there are some great serving suggestions (some with surprising benefits!).
After a low-GI breakfast? Try buckwheat pancakes, raw honey (Jarrah is one of the lowest GI honey varieties, though other varieties perform well too) and pollen! This sweet treat gives you a healthy combination of dietary fibre from the buckwheat, plus protein, vitamins and all the nice things from the pollen!
What about for granola or smoothies? For a significantly improved effect, add honey to your yoghurt! This has proven to have significantly increase the phenolic content of the meal, with the total phenolic content of yoghurt and bee pollen significantly more than the sum of them individually!
Do you have a serving suggestion? Tell us in the comments below!