In a world filled with largely unsubstantiated claims of miraculous "super foods," bee pollen appears to be the real deal. Many people take daily doses of these granules as a dietary supplement, since it does contain nearly every element required for healthy living, including B-complex vitamins, folic acid, free amino acids and proteins. Raw bee pollen is also high in carbohydrates, and may even contain natural antibiotics.
Bee pollen starts out as the microscopic male seed of the various plants attractive to bee colonies. As the bees move through the flower, the dusty pollen collects on their bodies. Using a special natural "comb," the bees are able to concentrate all of this pollen into a single granule carried back to the hive as a source of food for young bees. These concentrated granules are collected by skilled beekeepers for use as a human diet supplement.
The medicinal value of the pollen is still being studied, but so far there have been credible claims of improved fertility, weight loss, allergy reduction, improved hemoglobin production and lower LDL cholesterol levels, among many others. There are even some preliminary studies on the effects of bee pollen on cancer in mice. Mice given food supplemented with it had noticeable reductions in the development of mammary tumors, a common condition among mice.
Bee pollen has also been shown to improve allergic conditions such as hay fever, if taken at least 6 weeks before the start of allergy season. There is also anecdotal evidence that its regular ingestion may improve migraine headaches, digestive tract ulcers, and certain urinary tract infections. Its natural antibiotic properties may be responsible for these results, or it may be a case of desensitization to allergens as a person builds up a tolerance for plant pollen.
There are also claims that ingredients in bee pollen can curb a person's appetite while also providing additional energy for exercise and natural increases in metabolism. The granules may be sprinkled onto food, mixed into cold supplemental shakes or consumed with water as a nutritive tonic.
Many nutritional experts recommend only buying domestically grown bee pollen, since imported granules may be dried before shipping. Quality products are often stored as a live food item in health food outlets and should be semi-moist when purchased. Bee pollen may be mixed with other products such as royal jelly, a highly nutritive substance with its own list of potential health benefits.