Is bee pollen the answer to your PMS?
Anyone who struggles with PMS/PMT knows that for as long as 14 days each month, you can feel vaguely like yourself as you battle to keep your hormone equilibrium in check. Often, medical intervention is offered as a remedy in the form of the contraceptive pill or even antidepressants.
Collectively, a global shift in mindset has seen many people seeking out natural approaches to managing the unpleasant symptoms of PMS, specifically bee pollen and royal jelly. But is there any evidence to support the success of these methods?
The health benefits of bee pollen
Bee pollen - a mix of nectar and flower pollen, enzymes, honey, wax and bee secretions - is formulated from plants by foraging honey bees, and taken to the hive for food.
Bee pollen is so highly regarded, that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health officially recognises it as a medicine.
Not to be confused with other bee products such as honey or propolis, bee pollen has been gaining traction in the health spaces due to its abundance of nutrients, vitamins, amino acids and active ingredients.
Having been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, bee pollen is linked to the following health benefits:
- Rapid healing - due to its antibacterial properties, it’s thought to promote the regeneration of cells.
- Immunity - animal studies have shown that a diet containing additional bee pollen can stimulate organ development and immune response from the spleen, responsible for fighting germs in the blood.
- Inflammation - bee pollen contains several compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties including quercetin.
Bee pollen for PMT
Scientific evidence is sparse, but early research dating back to 2002 found that women who were given a special combination product - that included bee pollen - over the course of two months found that their PMS symptoms, specifically bloating, irritability and weight gain, had reduced. Bee pollen is also thought to influence serotonin levels and therefore, mood stabilisation, and has even been linked to reducing constant period hunger pains.
Animal studies have also determined that taking bee pollen supplements supports liver function, enhancing its antioxidant defences, which may be helpful for people in the follicular phase of their cycle, as there can be an excess of estrogen at this stage.
Using bee pollen as a natural supplement for hormone health is also said to reduce painful symptoms of endometriosis, due to its natural anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Five years ago, Serenol landed on the market, a non-prescription supplement said to provide ‘relief from emotional PMS’. The supplement came to be after the above study found this product - containing a combination of bee pollen, royal jelly and chromium picolinate - to be effective in soothing PMT. It's not exactly clear how the supplement works, but early reports are positive.
Writing for The Cut, Cheryl Wischhover stated that after five weeks on the new supplement, she felt calmer and had more stable moods. “I really felt terrible before Serenol, and now I don’t. Maybe my hormones are stabilising and the flower power had nothing to do with it, but I feel better and have not terrorised my loved ones in weeks.”
It’s important to note that Serenol is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved and caution should always be taken when considering taking a new supplement. It’s advised to also consult your GP or a nutrition professional before doing so.
Is it safe to eat bee pollen?
Although bee pollen, for most people, is safe to use as a nutritional supplement, it may not be suitable for people who are pregnant, have allergies to bee stings or honey or are on blood-thinning medication as early research shows it could have negative side effects.
What is royal jelly?
Not to be confused with bee pollen, royal jelly is another substance associated with bees, but it is actually manufactured from them, to feed the Queen bee as her sole source of nutrition. Royal jelly is a combination of bee pollen and enzymes from the throat of the worker bees to produce the milky substance.
Royal jelly’s composition is similar to that of bee pollen, but the key difference is that royal jelly is manufactured as food for the Queen bee, which is why it is highly regarded as a nutritional supplement, due to the superiority of the Queen: strength, stamina, size, fertility and longevity.
Royal jelly has also been used in a clinical sense to help prevent PMS symptoms and has historically been linked to fertility rates.
So the bottom line is, bee pollen is generally safe to consume in small quantities and in moderation as an alternative to synthetic hormones, but there is a lack of scientific evidence to support a definitive improvement on PMT symptoms, largely only anecdotal reports at this time.
If you’re struggling with PMT and want further natural support, take a look at our investigation of how seed cycling can support PMS. Remember, it’s important to consult your GP or a nutrition professional if you are planning to make a change in diet or supplementation.
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