Benefits of Bee Pollen for Menopause and Midlife
A common, albeit less frequently discussed, supplement that some women find helpful during menopause is bee pollen. Here’s what you need to know about bee pollen and its potential uses and benefits for women during midlife.
What is bee pollen?
Bee pollen is a mixture of several things you would expect to be associated with bees. It usually contains pollen and nectar from flowers, honey, wax, and other bee secretions, as well as enzymes. In addition to honey, pollen provides nourishment for the bees: proteins, vitamins, and other vital nutrients. Interestingly, bees do not consume their pollen fresh. Instead, they take it into the hive and pack the granules into empty comb cells, mixing them with nectar and digestive fluids and sealing the cell with a drop of honey. Stored in this manner, the pollen remains stable indefinitely. Beekeepers call this form of pollen ‘bee bread’.
People have been using bee products for nutrition and as a folk remedy for centuries. Researchers found beeswax residue on ancient pottery dating from 7,000 BC in Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. More recently, there’s been a revival in the interest in bee products for medicinal purposes. Many people have started using bee pollen to support their overall health due to its purported benefits. Bee pollen is full of powerful compounds and nutrients like lipids, carbs, free amino acids, and proteins. It’s also packed with antioxidants, specifically ones like flavonoids, quercetin, and carotenoids, which are known to have health benefits.
Because of its health potential, the Federal Ministry of Health in Germany has recognized bee pollen as a medicine.
How does bee pollen benefit menopause?
One of the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms is the inability to maintain a constant body temperature, in the form of hot flashes, night sweats, and a consequential disruption of normal sleep patterns.
Interestingly, some women have found relief from hot flashes by adding bee pollen to their daily routine.
One small study found bee pollen to be helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes when taken consistently for three months.
A 2015 study among 46 menopausal women compared the effectiveness of taking a daily pollen and honey mixture versus pure honey, on alleviating hot flashes. In the end, 71% of women taking the combination mixture reported an improvement in symptoms.
An older 2005 study among 54 menopausal women found that taking an herbal remedy made from pollen extracts for three months significantly improved hot flashes and reported quality of life, compared to a placebo.
How to incorporate bee pollen into your routine
Bee pollen is easy to add to your diet and is considered to be safe for the general population, including during menopause. That being said, if you have an allergy to honey, pollen or bee stings or suffer from asthma, eczema, or hay fever, it’s a good idea to avoid bee pollen supplements due to the risk for hypersensitivity reactions to this product. Bee pollen is also not recommended for people taking blood thinners like warfarin due to the likelihood of a negative interaction.
You can find bee pollen at most health stores. If you happen to know a local beekeeper, they could probably help you too. Bee pollen usually comes in either supplements or granules that can be mixed into beverages like smoothies or water. Whichever form you choose, make sure the product is third-party verified and fresh.
If you’re suffering from hot flashes and looking for alternative relief, bee pollen may be worth giving a shot. As always, check with your doctor before taking a supplement to make sure it’s safe for you.
For more information about menopausal symptom relief and popular supplements for menopause, check out the blog at Lisa Health.
Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and speaker who helps families transition to plant-based lifestyles. She can be found at laurenpanoff.com or on Instagram @chronicplanet.