Biological and therapeutic properties of bee pollen: a review

J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Oct;96(13):4303-9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7729. Epub 2016 Apr 19.


Natural products, including bee products, are particularly appreciated by consumers and are used for therapeutic purposes as alternative drugs. However, it is not known whether treatments with bee products are safe and how to minimise the health risks of such products. Among others, bee pollen is a natural honeybee product promoted as a valuable source of nourishing substances and energy. The health-enhancing value of bee pollen is expected due to the wide range of secondary plant metabolites (tocopherol, niacin, thiamine, biotin and folic acid, polyphenols, carotenoid pigments, phytosterols), besides enzymes and co-enzymes, contained in bee pollen. The promising reports on the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticariogenic antibacterial, antifungicidal, hepatoprotective, anti-atherosclerotic, immune enhancing potential require long-term and large cohort clinical studies. The main difficulty in the application of bee pollen in modern phytomedicine is related to the wide species-specific variation in its composition. Therefore, the variations may differently contribute to bee-pollen properties and biological activity and thus in therapeutic effects. In principle, we can unequivocally recommend bee pollen as a valuable dietary supplement. Although the bee-pollen components have potential bioactive and therapeutic properties, extensive research is required before bee pollen can be used in therapy. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: bee pollen; honey; inflammation, cancer; medicine; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Infective Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / analysis
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / adverse effects
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / analysis
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apitherapy* / trends
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements* / analysis
  • Drug Discovery
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Pollen / adverse effects
  • Pollen / chemistry*
  • Propolis / adverse effects
  • Propolis / chemistry
  • Propolis / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Propolis