Why Bee Pollen Is Picking Up So Much, Er, Buzz

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beepollen_embed Ah, spring! The lovely time of year when we’ll happily exchange blistering wet weather for slightly warmer (but still wet) weather, plus debilitating allergies! And, while most of us have no problem treating our runny noses with a daily OTC pill, we’re still forever on the lookout for an easy way to cure the season-long inflammation. Could the very cause of our allergies be the answer?

Oddly enough, some have lauded bee pollen as a powerful immune booster, antioxidant powerhouse, and weight loss agent with the power to cure — or, at the very least, diminish — our love-hate relationship with April seasonal allergies. The homeopathic herbal supplement has been sold in pill form for decades. So, what's the catch? There’s inconsistent evidence to back these claims.

For instance, a report filed by NYU Langone Medical Center recognized that bee pollen, though high in protein and carbohydrates, contains only trace amounts of B-vitamins and minerals. And, though the FDA approved its antioxidant and immune system claims in 2003, a new report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warns against using it to fight (or, build up resistance to) seasonal allergies. In fact, the journal reported that a 30-year-old woman with seasonal allergies but no history of allergies to food, drugs or insects had an anaphylactic reaction after taking a bee pollen supplement.

Not only has bee pollen not been proven to encourage weight loss, some formulations may actually be hazardous. According to the FDA, Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen Capsules, which were touted exclusively as a weight loss supplement (by “penetrating deeply into the cell and eradicating fat,” no less), was pulled off the shelves in 2010 for containing sibutramine, a banned stimulant. Plus, the fact that bee pollen seems to be tied to weight loss only by sellers of the supplement should make consumers at least a tinge wary.

A wonder cure? Not exactly. But, if you’re lucky enough to not spend the spring constantly wiping your nose and hoarding Visine, perhaps bee pollen is worth trying for its antioxidant benefits — just don’t expect to drop 10 pounds.

Spring Valley Bee Pollen 550 Mg, $5.24, available at Walmart.