Bee Pollen Could Treat Your Allergies—Here's How To Use It
I've always been a sensitive person who's extremely responsive to my outside environment. Growing up, I was the kid who had her own tissue box on the desk so I wouldn’t interrupt the teacher by constantly getting up to blow my nose. While I was able to moderately control my allergies with over-the-counter medications, they left me feeling foggy and tired.
After becoming an integrative medicine physician, I began to seek out natural remedies for my allergies. I found dairy to be an important trigger, and by eliminating that from my diet I reduced my allergies by about 80%. Then I started adding herbs (like nettle root), enzymes (like bromelain), and real food (like bee pollen). I can now enjoy the outdoors and warm weather without taking any medications!
I know I'm not alone. It is estimated that about 40 million Americans suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies. If you haven’t tried bee pollen, consider adding it to your diet to become free and clear of your stuffy nose.
What is bee pollen?
It's actually a food. High in protein, as well as other antioxidants and vitamins, it is one of nature’s perfect superfoods. Bees go from flower to flower collecting pollen to bring back to the hive where they create the granules. No bees are harmed in the process of collecting bee pollen from the hives.
How does bee pollen help allergies?
An allergy happens when your body develops an immune response to an allergen, creating antibodies. These antibodies then activate certain receptors on your cells to release histamine, resulting in an allergic reaction (puffy eyes, runny nose, etc). Bee pollen actually reduces histamine, which is the same target over -the-counter medications act upon. It can be effective for a wide range of respiratory diseases, ranging from asthma to chronic sinus infections.
How do I choose the best kind of bee pollen?
Always buy local to ensure you're building up an immunity to the plants in your area. Ask your farmer, or look for a label that states it is mold and pesticide free. Also, try to get a bottle with a variety of colors to make sure they come from different plants, which improves the bee pollen's nutrient profile.
While it does come in pill, powder, or liquid form, it's best to consume the actual granules that the bees make. The granules have a sweet taste and powdery texture that can be used in smoothies, sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt, or combined with granola. It's also worth noting, bees make all sorts of beneficial things like propolis for clearing up skin problems and royal jelly.
How do I take bee pollen?
Start gradually (½ tsp.) a day and work your way up to 1-3 tablespoons by the end of four weeks. I usually take a spoonful with my breakfast or add it to my morning smoothie recipe. It's best to take with food, especially fruit. The fruit fibers will activate the pollen faster and cleanse your colon simultaneously. Gut and immune health are closely linked in regards to severity of allergies.
If you think you might have a sensitivity to pollen or a history of hay fever, try this simple test. Place a few granules in your mouth and wait 2 minutes. If you experience no symptoms (watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing), chew slowly and swallow. Wait another 24 hours and monitor your body for any symptoms. If you don't experience any, gradually increase as stated above.
When should I take bee pollen?
If you have spring allergies, start now! If you have fall allergies, start mid to late June to give your body time to build up an immune response.
How do I store bee pollen?
In the refrigerator — sunlight and heat can destroy bee pollen's nutrient value. It should keep well for up to a year if stored properly.
Important note: If you have a history of anaphylactic shock or highly allergic to bee stings, it’s best to avoid bee pollen. If you're pregnant, breast-feeding, or on blood thinners, please check with your doctor before consuming.
Tiffany Lester, M.D. is the National Clinical Director of Community at Parsley Health San Francisco, a groundbreaking new medical practice that focuses on nutrition, prevention, and wellness. She received her bachelor's in psychology and biology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Lester combines the best of both conventional and functional medicine, navigating the complexity of the body to get to the root cause of disease. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through whole foods and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their fatigue, stress, and pain levels.