The Healthy 'Buzz' - How to Use Honey and Bee Pollen
By Christina Pasternak More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the FOOD-A-MINS Blog Series
Honey and bee pollen have been consumed for their healing properties since ancient Egyptians began incorporating them into almost every ritual as food offered to the gods. Bees are estimated to have survived on Earth for over 150 million years, and they have evolved into over 30,000 different species. Honey and bee pollen are considered an excellent source of concentrated nutrition, containing the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants required for anti-aging and disease prevention. After examining a few of the many benefits of these buzz-worthy foods, you'll see that honey and bee pollen are powerful superfoods that can enrich our health for the rest of our lives.
Oh, Honey! So Good For You!
Organic, raw, and unfiltered honey is packed with minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes. It is an easily digestible and soothing form of sugar, which is required for providing energy to the body. Raw, unprocessed, and unfiltered honey has been determined as nature’s most dense source of live enzymes. Research has shown that honey has the following health-promoting qualities:
- Improves reflexes
- Sharpens mental alertness
- Antifungal, antibiotic, and antiviral properties
- Increases mineral absorption
- Moisture-retaining properties
Honey has been shown to provide relief to and/or cure the following ailments:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Urinary tract infections
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- Sore throat
- Topical infections, such as infected animal bites, abrasions, abscesses, bed sores, burns, cuts, and ulcers
Where to Find/How to Use: Honey can be used in any recipe that calls for a sweetener, as long as the honey remains raw. (Cooked honey doesn't have the live healing enzymes that are required for its health benefits.) I like to add honey to my immune-boosting tea recipe, mixed into oatmeal, in raw desserts (such as my coconut chocolate pudding), and in green smoothies that contain little to no sweet fruit. Raw honey can also be mixed with bee pollen (1 tablespoon of honey: 1 teaspoon pollen) and used as an extremely effective liver detoxifier and hormone-balancing tonic. When consumed by the spoonful on an empty stomach, raw honey has been known to be an excellent treatment for stomach ulcers.
Honey should always be organic (and/or wild), raw, unheated, and preferably packaged in a glass container. (I prefer Canadian Gold Honey by Premier Research Labs.)
Bee Pollen Powder Power
Important Note: If you are allergic to the venom of bee stings or pollen, bee pollen should be completely avoided. If you’re unsure about an allergy, it’s important to start with a very small dose (1/8 teaspoon) and gradually work your way up to one teaspoon over a period of several days. Some people can enjoy pollen by the tablespoonful over time, but note that it’s potent and some may experience minor gastrointestinal upset and/or laxative effects at first. Consume with care!
Bee pollen contains all of the mineral matter found inside the flowers that sticks to the honeybees’ bodies and then travels back to the hive. Beekeepers collect the pollen through a mesh material installed at the entrance of their hive that collects some of the pollen, yet still leaves a sufficient amount for the hive’s needs. The pollen is then dried in an airtight room and sold as granules at most health food stores or online.
Considered the most complete superfood found in nature, bee pollen contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It is also an alkaline food, which is crucial for balancing our body’s pH levels. The nutritional benefits of bee pollen are quite extensive and include the following:
- High in antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals that cause aging and disease
- Contains remarkable hormone-balancing properties, which may boost sex drive, reduce prostate problems, and improve fertility
- Increases strength, endurance, energy, muscle growth and definition, and enhances athletic performance
- Reduces the production of histamine, which can neutralize many allergies
- Rich in B vitamins, which fight stress and increase longevity
- Contributes to a smooth, clear complexion by fighting acne, wrinkles, and fine lines
- Restores mineral and metabolic deficiencies, which may contribute to reversing type 2 diabetes symptoms
- Can assist in relieving anemia, constipation, colitis, sinusitis, and asthma
- Is approximately 25% protein, which is easily assimilated by the body due to its predigested form. Within two hours of ingestion, bee pollen can be found in the blood and urine.
- Pollen is high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, all the essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids
Where to Find/How to Use: Bee pollen should be raw and organic (and/or wild). (I like Premier Research Labs’ brand.) Bee pollen can be mixed with honey or a teaspoon of melted coconut oil and eaten by the spoonful as an energizing and detoxifying elixir, blended into smoothies, or on top of cereal. I’ve even dipped a banana in a teaspoon of pollen sprinkled into my palm before a workout. The granules melt in your mouth and have a mildly sweet flavor.
My favorite way to enjoy bee pollen and honey together is with my hormone-balancing, liver-detoxifying, skin-clearing smoothie. It’s like giving my skin a big smooch and my complexion loves me for it. When I discontinued oral contraceptives, my hormones were out of whack and my skin freaked out (much more about this in a future blog). The combination of honey and pollen, along with the skin-healing properties of pumpkin seeds, put my broken complexion back together again.
Bee-utiful Smoothie (makes about 16 ounces)
My favorite way to enjoy bee pollen and honey together is with my hormone-balancing, liver-detoxifying, skin-clearing smoothie: RECIPE HERE
Support Organic and Humane Beekeeping Practices
Bee products that are purchased from corporate honey makers, which include non-organic and non-wild varieties, are often collected using inhumane practices, such as feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup (rather than allowing them a portion of their own honey), smoking out the hives, and spraying nicotine-based pesticides on the plants that the bees use to collect their pollen. It’s important to know that the recent bee colony collapse has mostly affected the non-organic bee product industry, which is why beekeepers who use organic and cruelty-free practices should be supported through buying only their products. Check your labels, learn about your local beekeeper’s practices, and start enjoying your newly buzzed life.
Wolfe, D. (2009). Superfoods. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Food Matters: 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Bee Pollen