by Amy Myszko
It might come as a surprise that pollen, a substance most often associated with seasonal allergies and hay fever–achoo!–may be a potent super food that promotes longevity and hormonal balance. Pine pollen has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. While the research on pine pollen remains slim, the market is quickly expanding for this popular wild food supplement. Some proponents claim its benefits are mostly for menas a testosterone booster, while others see pine pollen as more of an adaptogen-or deep healing and rebalancing agent-for both men and women.
How Does Pine Pollen Affect Hormones?
As its name indicates, pine pollen is the pollen from a number of pine tree species. The pollen comes from the male cones of the pine tree and are harvested at a particular stage.
Pine pollen contains plant phyto-androgens, a kind of plant hormone some think may positively affect human hormone balance, including claims that it can help increase testosterone. Phyto-androgens in theory promote testosterone levels by binding to testosterone receptors. Both men and women can be testosterone-deficient (although women have much less of it to begin with). Androgens are a bit different from estrogen in that they can be transformed into a number of other reproductive hormones in the body.
Other Benefits of Pine Pollen
Pine pollen also contains many other phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that may promote overall health. It’s a rich source of vitamins A, beta-carotene, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, vitamin D and vitamin E, and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium and zinc. Pine pollen also contains 20 amino acids including all 8 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Pine pollen is anecdotally reported to improve energy, rebalance the endocrine system and boost immunity, and it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body. Recent research backs up at least some of these claims, by showing for example that pine pollen can have an anti-aging effect.
How to Use Pine Pollen
The normal dose of pine pollen is ½ to 1 teaspoon per day, although there are various ways to find the right dose for your body and circumstances. Some herbalists recommend allergy testing first and then the taking of small doses that are gradually increased, working up to a full dose. Yet others recommend taking mega-doses of pine pollen, in the range of 5 to 10 grams per day. As with all herbs and supplements, its smart to work with a qualified holistic healthcare provider who can help you tailor plant remedies to your particular needs.
Amy Myszko is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, Certified Lactation Counselor and Licensed Lactation Care Provider and has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.