My husband and I partake in what some might consider an “unusual” nutritional supplement, so I tend to get a lot of curious, enthusiastic questions about it. I figured I may as well post about it to help out anyone who’s interested, because it sure changed my life! Will it change yours?
We bought a NutriBullet in Feb. 2013, and started a new habit of blending up super-healthy breakfast smoothies. They’re nothing unusual, accented with everyday items like bananas, spinach, flax seed, etc. (I’m so used to rattling this list off for everyone who asks!)
However, when I mention one specific ingredient, everyone’s ears perk up and they get a quizzical look that says they don’t think they heard me right.
Bee pollen. Local bee pollen, to be exact. Plain and simple. Nothing “scary” or really that unheard-of in the wellness world, but it’s still not something most people expect to hear going into our smoothies. Usually the first question I get is, “You can EAT that?!” That question is often followed with, “But why? Is that good for you?”
The answer to the first question is a resounding “YES!”, and then I usually follow that up with what’s now become a well-rehearsed little speech on the merits of bee pollen as a dietary supplement. Bear with me, we’ll get there.
The Old Me + Allergies = Hell
To truly understand this post’s significance, you need context. I grew into severe seasonal allergies during my early teen years, which worsened into my early 20’s. I experienced allergy hell basically from the very start of spring until the first frost in late fall. You name it, I’m allergic to it – especially grass pollen, ragweed, and certain tree pollens. I could sneeze 15 or 20 times in a row without stopping – my poor nose sometimes bled from the strain. My eyes and throat would swell, itch, and burn. Simply awful.
I’d been through the ringer trying all different types of allergy meds. I tried over-the-counter in practically every brand. I tried prescriptions. Been there, tried that. I had some success, but who wants to be taking an allergy pill daily for months? Not me, especially once I started having unfriendly side effects that included feeling groggy and disconnected and stomach-related problems. Lovely, right?
How I Discovered Bee Pollen
It’s at this point that serendipity kicked in while visiting Jorgensen’s Apiary, which is located at Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. During my first visit, I had an enlightening conversation with the shopkeeper, and I learned about the benefits of honey and pollen for the very first time. This visit planted the little seed in my mind about using bee pollen to treat allergies, and although I didn’t take action immediately, this visit would ultimately change my life.
Admittedly, it was probably about a year or so before I’d finally had enough with the “normal” way of treating my allergies. I realized I needed a real solution, one that wasn’t loading my body with nasty chemicals and causing all sorts of troublesome side effects. I had nothing to lose. We bought our first jar of pollen, and away we went! This coincided with us purchasing the NutriBullet and overall taking charge of our diets – an “awakening” of sorts, or the great epiphany, if you will.
Come spring, several months after starting our new regimen, something magical happened! Lo and behold, I was a new woman. My seasonal allergies had all but disappeared, no joke. It was the first allergy season in years that I didn’t even notice when all the plants and trees started blossoming and pumping pollen into the air! It felt surreal and too good to be true. I should’ve been going through my usual misery, but it just wasn’t happening. Others around me were suffering, but I wasn’t. One might suggest that this was a fluke, or perhaps just not that bad of an allergy season, but the effects have stayed tried-and-true. I made it through allergy season 2014 in exactly the same manner, despite us having been warned by the media’s skull-and-crossbones reports that it was going to be an absolutely terrible season. Sure, there were a few days where the pollen levels were off the charts according to my pollen.com app, so I did sneeze a couple times and/or have my eyes get a little itchy, but it never got worse than that or required taking an allergy pill. Now that, my friends, is what I call results.
Sharing Bee Pollen: My Mission
It’s because of these results that I have to vent my disappointment with our medical community and the pharmaceutical industry. This fantastic solution exists, which could naturally treat thousands upon thousands of frustrated allergy sufferers, but instead, doctors just keep throwing prescriptions at people. And I doubt this will ever change. Pharmaceutical companies exist to make money, don’t forget, and even if there’s a perfect solution, they won’t touch it unless they can slap a patent on it. You can’t patent a bee, folks, so guess what – it gets pushed aside. All in the name of profit.
It’s become my personal goal to share bee pollen with as many people as I can, in hopes that it’ll work wonders for them, just like it did for me. It’s up to all of us to do so. Many traditional medical professionals feel threatened by such an effective solution, and may dismiss it as “unreliable” or “potentially dangerous”, but you’ve got to understand why. The medical community doesn’t want to lose stake in the estimated $15 billion-a-year industry of allergy medications and all associated (astronomically-priced) doctor visits connected with allergies. This is why we, as individuals, need to research and take ownership of our condition. Mother Nature is one smart cookie, and if our society would embrace even just a small portion of what she has to offer, the world would be all the better for it.
How to Take Bee Pollen
The methodology is simple – you start out slowly, gradually introducing it to your body day by day. You literally start with a few granules at a time, increasing by a couple a day, until you are at the recommended daily intake of 1/4 tbsp. The key here is that you’re essentially training your immune system that an allergen like pollen is not a mean, scary invader that’s hell-bent on destroying your body.
If you know anything about allergies, they’re the result of your autoimmune response to a foreign substance. Your body treats it as something to attack, and then you experience physical responses (sneezing and other fun things) to the chemicals that your body produces to “attack the invaders” (e.g. histamines). Now it makes sense why “Anti-Histamine” is on your box of allergy meds, right? You’re essentially telling your body to quit it with the histamines and other related chemicals.
This is where the “local” thing comes into play. The more local you can get your pollen, the better. Think of it this way – it wouldn’t help to expose yourself to generic pollens from another state, right? You don’t come into contact with them, so why bother trying to build an immunity? Your results will be best from using pollen from the local trees and plants that you’re going to be up against all spring/summer.
Of course, I get lots of questions about the logistics: what it looks/tastes/smells like, how I store it, how I use it, where I get it, etc. It has a smell and a taste vaguely similar to honey, but not nearly as sweet. It’s more chalky, which makes sense since it’s tiny little granules. You can certainly choose to eat it straight, but for me personally, this isn’t an option. My preferred method is via smoothie, but in a pinch I put it onto a spoon with yogurt and gulp it down that way. The only caveat is that you absolutely 100% cannot heat it! It’s not like honey. Do not mix it in hot food or tea. That will break down its properties and waste your efforts. That being said, pollen should also be refrigerated after opening for max freshness and longevity.
Finding it might take a little detective work, but first check at any local farmer’s markets or health food stores. If you have a Whole Foods near you, see if they carry anything local in the refrigerated area of the nutrition supplement aisle. You can try Googling “[your city here] bee pollen” to see if you get any hits, and also look up your state beekeeper association website. You should be able to find a local beekeeper!
Price will vary based on where you find it. We pay $11/jar from Jorgensen’s, and a jar usually lasts us several months at least, so it’s convenient and affordable. As far as the expense goes, $11 is such a minimal cost to enjoy quality of life, in my book. Not to mention all the money you’re saving on doctor visits and allergy meds/shots!
Other Benefits of Taking Bee Pollen
Although you’re training your body to accept pollen as an okay substance, in the process, it even helps with other allergens! I’ve found that since I’ve started taking pollen, my cat allergies and other indoor allergies (like dust and mold) have gotten much, much better. Not non-existent, but better to the point that I can be exposed for longer before experiencing a reaction, if I react at all, and if so, it’s lesser than normal.
Last but certainly not least, even non-allergy sufferers should stand up and take notice, since pollen also offers a wide range of health benefits. Did you know that bee pollen contains all, yes all, 22 basic elements needed by the human body (vitamins, amino acids, hormones, and enzymes)? Plus, it’s got amazing immune system-boosting properties, and also is considered to be protection against the effects of aging.
If you know for any reason that your immune system may be running a little low or may get a challenge (like if you’ve not gotten a lot of sleep lately or are going to be flying on an airplane or visiting a hospital) you can certainly take more than 1/4 tsp, even double.
I can vouch that since I’ve started taking pollen, I’ve been sick once. Once! In that incidence, it appears I picked up the same virus a co-worker had. Hers turned into a two-week long, antibiotic-filled battle against walking pneumonia! Yet for me, it was just a decently nasty head cold that only lasted one week and necessitated no such medicines, other than honey, of course.
Bee Pollen Now and Always
All in all, I consider bee pollen to be one of the single greatest things that has ever come into my life. I don’t foresee myself ever stopping taking it, and will keep doing so for as long as I can continue to find a supplier. I’m a huge proponent of its use, and hope that my experience can help others make an educated decision and a better choice for treating their own allergies. I can only hope that some day, after word spreads, it will be one of the most widely-used treatments for allergies, rather than drugs.
Originally posted 9/2014 on my original blog site. Edited for posting on a.healthier.happy.
The information expressed in this post are my personal experiences, and should not be taken as the advice of a certified medical professional.
* UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE *
We’ve moved, so we’re no longer getting our pollen from Jorgensen’s, but we actually discovered that we can buy a 1.25 lb. jug of local pollen from our nearest Whole Foods for $25, and the jug lasts us 6 months.
We both started taking the local pollen immediately to build immunity in our new location, which has been a great success! It’s now been 3 years that we’ve been taking bee pollen overall – time flies!