Most of us understand what a vital role bees play in our environment. Not only are they prolific pollinators, but they also provide honey, which contains both nutritional and medicinal properties. However, another lesser known byproduct of bees is bee pollen, which contains many benefits for both our animals and us.
What is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen is a mixture of flower pollen, nectar, enzymes, honey, wax, and bee secretions; it’s essentially what honeybees pick up, bring back to their hive, and use as a food source for the colony. It’s also the richest source of vitamins contained in a single food! Though the nutritional content changes depending on the plant source and season, bee pollen is typically loaded with amino acids, vitamins, lipids, and over 250 active substances.
The following are some of bee pollen’s most beneficial properties:
Due to their ability to protect the body from harmful molecules known as free radicals (which are linked with several chronic diseases), antioxidants play a valuable role in health. Bee pollen contains a variety of antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, quercetin, and glutathione, which all help fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Another benefit of bee pollen is its detoxifying and liver-protecting properties. In older animals, bee pollen has been shown to boost the liver’s antioxidant defense and remove waste products from the blood. One study even led researchers to conclude that bee pollen promotes healing of liver damage caused by toxicity.
Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Microbial
A natural anti-inflammatory, bee pollen has been compared to drugs such as naproxen, analgin, phenylbutazone (bute), and indomethacin. Because of this property, bee pollen may be helpful both in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.
In addition to internal use, bee pollen can also be used topically to speed healing, especially in the case of burns. The pollen contains the antioxidant, kaempferol, which inhibits the activity of enzymes after a burn and decreases inflammatory reactions and swelling. Bee pollen’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help to relieve pain while its antimicrobial activity helps to prevent infection.
It’s no secret that the immune system plays a critical role in the development of allergies, and studies have also shown that bee pollen contains anti-allergic properties because of its ability to inhibit the activation of mast cells (which contribute to allergic reactions)
Another study in which horses were fed a bee pollen supplement for 42 days resulted in more efficient digestion and decreased excretion of phosphorus, leading researchers to conclude that bee pollen supplementation improves feed intake and nutrient retention. This is especially important in animals who might need help maintaining or gaining weight.