• Norbert Klose

Bee Pollen as a Supplement

Pollen as a supplement is recommended by many health journals and books and has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It has been claimed to be some kind of superfood like spirulina. If I hear the name superfood, a red flag of my critical thinking mind goes up and shines bright hehe. Usually, the name superfood is used by companies which want to sell you some kind of product. An evidence-based systematic review of bee pollen is worthwhile reading: By going through the full review it becomes clear that there needs to be a lot more research done before we can reach any conclusions about the health benefits of eating pollen A valuable article to read is from Steven Novella on Science-Based Medicine: I recommend reading this short article. It is easy to read and understand. He writes:

"Among the myriad of supplements being offered to the public are various bee products, including bee pollen. The claims made for bee pollen supplements are typically over-hyped and evidence-free, as is typical of this poorly regulated industry" I just can not say it in a better way. When he writes about efficacy Steven says: "In medicine, it is not adequate to assess risk alone. Rather, we consider the risk vs benefit of any intervention. It is clear that ingesting bee pollen products is not risk-free, and the risks may be substantial. Only controlled clinical trials will establish exactly what the magnitude of potential risks from bee pollen is. We also need controlled clinical trials to assess any potential health benefits from these products. Unfortunately, such studies are completely lacking." And in conclusion, he writes: "Bee pollen products are a classic example of the current fallacies of the supplement industry. The claims made for such products are full of hype but are completely unsubstantiated by rigorous scientific evidence. What little evidence we do have shows that it is ineffective. What passes for “scientific” evidence on promotional websites are ancient tales and anecdotes. Further, there are increasing safety concerns about bee pollen products, mainly from the potential for allergic reactions but also including organ toxicity.

There is no current basis on which to recommend the use of bee pollen products. There is a basis for caution, however." I was surprised when I did my own research about the value of pollen as food. I always thought it was great food to eat with heaps of benefits. It is very easy to be taken in what people say and by reading headlines from companies that sell Supplements. It's like always ......if an industry is poorly regulated you will always find that what is promoted so big is mostly not true and not evidence-based but more for the purpose of making a lot of sales. (a good example is the Manuka Industry) I do trust people and it may take a while to realize that what I have been told isn't true, but as my critical thinking skills have matured I tent to question a lot more of what I am told. Very often there is virtually no strong evidence to support some claims. Most of us will not go through the trouble of reading peer-reviewed studies or spend hours looking into history studies. We are all so easily biased and taken in what is easily digestible and fits into our belief. I had to change my beliefs many times in my life. And sometimes it was embarrassing. But its always great to discover what is truer...... than just hanging onto old beliefs. Here is a link to just one article about pesticides: you will find plenty more ......some of them in different languages done in Europe..... But anyway if you do believe that its good for you to eat pollen on a regular basis for whatever reason then I would suggest this: Buy the pollen from a beekeeper you know! And make sure he collects the pollen from areas where pesticides are not used. Which means from bush areas which are at least 3 km away from crops with pesticides. Bon appetite........... And by the way, if you are interested in superfoods, then consider eating bee brood. At least there is some good evidence that eating insects are an amazing rich food source for us. a number of good studies have been done on it........

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