Bee Pollen Benefits and History Explored
A look at products from the beehive and potential benefits on weight loss.
For centuries, bee pollen has held a legendary place of honor on the apothecary shelf. According to the American Apitherapy Society, ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese, boasted about the therapeutic and nutritional benefits of the pollen collected by the industrious bees. The cave etchings of primitive man show the use of bees in medical treatments. Even some of the best-known healers of the past, including Hippocrates and Pythagoras, prescribed the golden bee pollen gems to their patients.
While pollen collected from bees’ hives was highly prized by ancient medical practitioners, modern professionals continue to value the super-nutrient. Doctors and scientists from around the world, including the U.S., Russia, Germany, Romania and Switzerland continue to research the use of apitherapy, the use of bee products for medicinal purposes, in patients with illnesses and conditions ranging from arthritis and gout to tendonitis and severe wounds. World-class athletes, including Canadian Olympic gold medal sprinter Steve Riddick, wax positively poetic about the extra stamina and energy they get from bee pollen.
Bee pollen is collected from various pollinating plants by honey bees. The bees take the yellow, powdery substance back to the hive and literally pack it into the cells of the honeycomb. The bees then add nectar, enzymes, fungi, bacteria and other organisms that transform the pollen into compact nuggets, sometimes called “bee bread.” These nuggets differ in their nutritional components depending on the plant from which the pollen was taken. Generally, bee pollen consists of about 55 percent carbohydrates, 35 percent protein, 3 percent minerals and vitamins, 2 percent fatty acids, and about 5 percent of other components. Bee pollen’s high protein content makes it especially attractive as a weight loss supplement. Of course this isn’t the only substance collected from the hive. The Queens own Royal jelly with benefits to health,along with bee propolis glue and natural honey are also gifted to us from the remarkable home of the honeybee.
Bee pollen granules also contains almost all B complex vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, folic acid, and carotenoids, as well as several minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, enzymes and amino acids. At just 90 calories per ounce, bee pollen is almost nature’s perfect food.
Recently, bee pollen analysis done at the Agricultural and Food Laboratory in Barcelona found 15 key compounds within pollen. The most predominant chemicals include flavonoid glycosides that act as antioxidants, as well as rutin and quercetin. These powerful nutrients have shared the limelight in recent years due to their anti-inflammatory and circulatory benefits. The additional benefits offered by these chemicals add to bee pollen’s already near-mythical glory.
Bee pollen’s ability to aid in weight control is also legendary. Interestingly, bee pollen can help increase a slow metabolism or reduce a fast metabolism. Thus, it can help increase or reduce the body’s fat-burning mechanisms. The amino acid, phenylalanine, found in bee pollen, helps regulate hunger. If the body needs food, phenylalanine will signal hunger pangs. If the body has enough calories, phenylalanine will help suppress the appetite.
Bee pollen’s ability to help with weight loss may be due, in part, to the fact that it is a natural, nutritional powerhouse. Natural, rather than synthetic, chemicals are more easily assimilated and utilized by the body. When the body receives the nutrients necessary to carry out its complex processes, it runs more effectively and efficiently. Energy meant to be burned is not stored as fat; thus, more energy is available for movement and exercise, which, in turn, burns more calories and reduces built-up fat stores. When the cells receive the nutrition they need to power each of the millions of miniature explosions necessary for breathing, respiration, digestion, circulation, elimination and the myriad of other tasks it carries out each day, they heal faster, grow stronger and provide stable framework necessary for a healthy, active body.
Recent research also suggests that protein may aid in weight loss and that inflammation in the body can contribute to obesity. Bee pollen’s high protein content and anti-inflammatory properties may offer additional benefits to people hoping to whittle their waists.
Bee pollen is sold by many health food stores as well as online sites that market nutritional supplements. Supplementing with bee pollen is not expensive and there are very few, if any side effects. Some people, including those with hay fever, asthma or other allergies, or women who may be pregnant, should check with a medical professional before attempting to lose weight with bee pollen. However, because bee pollen consists of pollen from plants, some people can have strong allergic reactions to it. Reactions can range from mild itching to shortness of breath, hives, swelling and shock. Some allergists use bee pollen to desensitize sensitive individuals but this should be done under the care of a qualified medical professional. If no reaction occurs, build up to about a teaspoon of granules per day. [buy bee pollen here]
Keep granules out of sunlight and store the delicate nuggets in the refrigerator to protect the integrity of the nutrients and enzymes.