“Is there any more perfect symbol of life perpetuating itself than pollen?”Georges Bornes
“I think very sincerely that of all the products of the hive, it is the pollen that is the most effective, because it acts in a multitude of cases where honey and royal jelly do not intervene.”Alain Caillas
A health cocktail?
In 1793, a Berlin publisher published a book with the promising title The Discovery of the Mystery of Nature concerning the constitution and fertilization of flowers. Its author was a certain Sprengel, who was the head of the boys’ school in the village of Spandau. He is a genius of observation and deduction. For years, taking advantage of the free time his job gives him, he has been studying plants and insects “in the field”. His book should be a fantastic revelation: Sprengel explains the process of fertilization of flowers, the role of pollen as a fertilizing element, the pollination “by insects, especially bees.
Unfortunately for him, Sprengel was not an official “scientist”. At first, he was ignored. Then a violent campaign unleashed against him by scientists. What? A little school teacher would question what the patent scientists had written so far! Crime of lèse-science! The book was withdrawn from sale, and Sprengel was forbidden to practice his profession. How could such a madman be a good teacher?
One more injustice in the history of science, which already counts a few, and a big one! It was Charles Darwin who had Sprengel rehabilitated. Much later.
The discovery was important. It brought to light the interactions of the plant cycle, this extraordinary tangle of causes and effects that determine a biological balance.
A little botany
This is what Sprengel had discovered. Plants of the phanerogamous type, i.e. all those that give birth to flowers (from the cherry tree to the rose), have within these flowers reproductive organs, male and female. Pollen is the fertilizing element: when its grains escape from the anther (male organ located in the stamen) at the time of flowering, they can reach the ovaries of the pistil (female organ). When this meeting, which will give birth to the fruit, takes place within the same flower, it is called direct pollination.
The other form of pollination, called indirect or cross-pollination, occurs through the wind or insects that carry and transmit pollen from one flower to another. Bees participate in the
“indirect fertilization” of half of the plant species. Thus, when they gather nectar or collect pollen (we have seen that pollen is a major component of the colony’s food supply), some grains remain attached to their bodies and will be “transmitted” to the female organs of another flower, ensuring pollination.
This explains why an orchard regularly visited by bees is richer in fruit. Farmers and arboriculturists are well aware of this phenomenon of the “useful” apiary for their production. It is not uncommon to place hives in large orchards to ensure perfect pollination.
But back to the bees. To feed the colony, nectar, honeydew and pollen are needed, so a number of “foragers” specialize in collecting the latter.
The morphology of bees lends itself admirably to this operation: their hind legs have a “pollen brush” which they use to make small balls of 6 to 8 mg (the “balls”), which they consolidate with nectar and saliva. These balls are carried to the hive and stored in cells near the brood. The pollen is not collected by humans, as is the case for honey, by extracting it from the frames where the workers have stored it, but just before it enters the hive, thanks to a very ingenious process: the pollen trap. It is a small grid with openings wide enough to allow the bee to pass through, but narrow enough to “retain” some of the pollen she carries, which then falls into a sort of drawer whose contents the beekeeper removes daily. Obviously, there is no question of depriving the hive of pollen, so the trap is designed to take only 5 to 10% of the harvest, which has no adverse consequences for the life of the colony.
Thanks to this process, an average of 3 kg of pollen is collected per year and per hive.
Once harvested, the pollen, to be perfectly preserved and consumable, must undergo a certain number of essential care. First of all, drying. Indeed, fresh pollen contains about 15% water and it is necessary to reduce this rate to 4 or 5%, otherwise the grains will become moldy or fermented. The quality of the drying can be ensured by
The quality of the drying process can be checked by ensuring that the balls do not “stick” to each other. This is an excellent test for the consumer.
Once dried, the pollen is cleaned of impurities (plant debris, small insects, etc.). It will then be stored in a packaging that protects it from heat and humidity.
An intermediate operation consists in reducing the pollen into powder in order to make it more digestible. Most dieticians are not in favor of this “treatment”, for a very simple reason: it is impossible to verify whether the pollen comes from a single floral species or from a large variety of plants. This is important. Indeed, the properties of pollen (we should say of pollens, as we did for honey) are variable according to the flora from which they come, the more varieties are represented, the richer the pollen will be. One can easily recognize this “variety” by the multiplicity of yellow, red, brown, black, etc.
Before discussing the composition and specific properties of pollen, I think it is necessary to recall one of its qualities, too often ignored or even unknown and yet very important for the consumer.
Pure honey contains pollen which microscopic analysis allows to determine the geographical origin and the main botanical characteristics. This is called pollen analysis. It allows the identification of all the characteristics of the observed pollens with a very high precision, which allows a rigorous control of the floral names of the honeys. Thus, we can verify that a honey called acacia, lavender or rosemary, contains a sufficient quantity of pollen of these flowers to deserve its appellation (50% minimum, the rest being composed of varieties of other pollens). This method of analysis allows us to detect and punish counterfeit or fraudulent products.
Another possible fraud that a simple chemical analysis could not detect: the absence or the low content of pollen of a honey, provides the proof of an artificial food” of the bees: syrup containing saccharose for example, which, it can also be sanctioned. The pollen analysis of honey is therefore one of the most reliable guarantees of its quality, and for this reason, a guarantee for the consumers.
Characteristics and composition
The evidence of the dietetic and therapeutic properties of pollen is relatively recent. Until now, we only knew about some of its powers and its importance in the bees’ diet. Its study and its systematic analysis go back to a few decades and are due to works like those of professor Rémy Chauvin, doctor J. Louveaux, of Doctor Lenormand, of A. Laurizio, N. Loriche….
There is a huge variety of pollens with their own characteristics. Also, each of them, as for honeys, we will speak here of “common denominator” or, rather, of “common composition” within which the different elements are more or less present, more or less active.
more or less active. Hence, as we have seen, the interest in consuming pollens from various origins, richer because they are varied.
Pollens are composed of :
- protids: in variable quantities from 20 to 35%. These nitrogenous substances contain amino acids which are the “basic material, the fundamental material for the constitution of animal and plant living beings”. These amino acids, essential to all life, are found in pollen. We can list the active ingredients:
- isoleucine: it plays an important role in the process of protein assimilation;
- Leucine: it is necessary for the functioning of the pancreas and the spleen as well as for the energy balance of the organism;
- Lysine: plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and the fixation of calcium;
- methionine: is involved in the growth process
- phenilalanine: it plays a role in the process of integration of the vitamin C;
- Tryptophan: is involved in the integration process of the vitamin PP, as well as in the assimilation of proteins; the threonine: intervenes also in the process of integration of the proteins;
- Valine: plays an important role in nerve and muscle cells;
carbohydrates: about 35%;
lipids: about 5%;
vitamins: A, D, E, C, and those of the B group;
Mineral salts and trace elements: about 3% of :
calcium and phosphorus;
Various substances, and in particular enzymes, antibiotic substances and a number of elements of a still undetermined nature, but which most researchers believe have a definite dietary and therapeutic action.
If, as Alin Caillas points out, the virtues of pollen (which “hundreds of thousands of consumers have come to recognize”) cannot yet be fully explained by its chemical composition, the fact remains that dietetics specialists agree today that it has the qualities of one of the most complete natural foods available.
Pollen and health
Let us recall this virtue of good maintenance which we spoke about honey and royal jelly. This virtue is also that of pollen. It even seems that among all the products of the hive, this one is the most effective to “help” us to maintain in us this harmonious functioning of the body and the spirit which one calls health. “There are two kinds of health, wrote Alexis Carrel, one natural and the other artificial. Medical science has given man an artificial health and protection against most infectious diseases, but man would like a natural health which stems from his resistance to the disease.
This is exactly what we are talking about, when we talk about the virtues of good maintenance, because, above all, it is the preventive action of a product that must hold our attention, it is the possibility that it has, or not, to “participate” in this action of resistance to diseases that Alexis Carrel speaks about. This is a fundamental point.
Another important point is that pollen is not a miracle food any more than royal jelly or honey. It is not a question of making a naive and, finally, dangerous apology, but of knowing why and under which conditions it can help us to preserve our natural health.
General indications, or pollen and the virtue of good maintenance
The known composition of pollen, rich in elements essential to biological balance, makes it a food or food supplement of choice. We have already emphasized how much our health depends on our diet. The presence in pollen of the “active factors” listed above leads most dieticians and biologists to consider it as a remarkable “health cocktail” and an excellent “maintenance agent” of our general condition. I will recall here that,
according to Georges Bornes :
“Of the 22 amino acids identified, 20 are present in pollen and their concentration is such that 100 grams of pollen is equivalent to pollen and their concentration is such that, in this field, 100 grams of pollen is equivalent to 500 grams of beef or 7 eggs. In other words, two tablespoons of pollen (i.e. 30 grams) can meet the daily amino acid requirements of an adult.”
30 grams represents the average daily dose of a pollen cure.
Curative indications of pollen
Pollen and “fatigues”
A drop in “form”… a feeling of exhaustion… difficulties in the face of an effort that usually seems easy? Who among us does not know these moments of rupture of the potential of his energy? We do not always manage to analyze the causes, we only have the unpleasant impression of living “above our strength” and a painful feeling of “fragility”. Very often of physical or nervous origin, these states of asthenia are relatively frequent. Benign at the beginning, they can become worrying, even serious, so complex is the process that I will call “snowball” that they set in motion: “fatigue” leading to fatigue.
How to get out of it? Drugs” and other doping substances? Be careful, we sometimes pay dearly for their temporary “whiplash”. It is therefore better to opt for a hygiene based on natural elements and without toxic side effects. I know that this often leads to smiles: “if it doesn’t do any good, it doesn’t do any harm”, one might say with a slightly condescending air, as when one evokes “women’s remedies”. And yet yes! Remedies that “do no harm” are important.
Do you know many “dopants” or “painkillers” that have no more or less negative side effects? If there is a choice, why not prefer the remedy that has no toxicity, as well as a proven therapeutic effectiveness? Pollen has these qualities. Its richness in amino acids, vitamins (and in particular vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, whose deficiency leads to fatigue, sleep disorders, nervousness…) and mineral salts make it recommended for all forms of these “fatigues” that our era unfortunately knows only too well.
To fight effectively against this kind of asthenia, it is usually recommended to take 30 grams of pollen per day for one month, i.e. two level tablespoons in the morning before breakfast and before lunch. It is necessary to chew the pollen well in order to ensure a faster digestion. Those who do not like the taste of pollen can mix it with honey or honey water. They can also grind it into a powder: a perfectly cleaned electric coffee grinder will do the trick – and drink it mixed with an infusion.
Remember also that pollen can be taken as an adjunct to other therapies, as long as it is not incompatible with other medications. In this case, you may wish to seek medical advice. Fortunately, not all practitioners are hostile to “natural” therapies.
Pollen and depressive states
What is called psychasthenia is a psychological type of fatigue, close to slightly depressive states, which is characterized, among other things, by a difficulty in paying attention, a decrease in willpower, insomnia… These states often go hand in hand with somatic problems such as spinal pain, headaches, etc. Without having miraculous powers, pollen can, as in the case of physical fatigue, be an excellent remedy for these depressive states.
It can be taken either alone or as an adjunct to other therapies. We recommend 30 grams per day, in two doses, morning and noon.
Pollen and loss of appetite
The causes are of physiological or psychological origin. The subject is said to be “anorexic”, the forms are obviously more or less serious. It is therefore absolutely necessary to find and treat the cause(s) of a loss of appetite or excessive weight loss, which can be the effect of extremely diverse disorders. Medical advice is therefore essential here.
Used alone or as an adjuvant, pollen can be very effective thanks to its aperitive qualities. Start with medium doses: 6 grams (i.e. one teaspoon) every morning on an empty stomach for one week, then one tablespoon (one week) then two, until
until you regain your appetite. The same type of treatment is used in case of weight loss.
Generally speaking, pollen is beneficial in the treatment of so-called deficiency states, whether it concerns stunted growth or rickets. The dose for children under ten years of age is 10 grams per day (i.e. two teaspoons) taken over long periods (40 to 60 days) and repeated regularly every two months.
Pollen and intestinal disorders
Pollen is considered an excellent regulator of intestinal functions. Doctor Lenormand, quoted by Eric Nigelle, states in this respect: “First of all, it stops the constipation which unfortunately affects an incalculable number of people (…) Pollen, a natural food, tends to eliminate this constipation without any inconvenience. In a word, it normalizes the transit of lazy intestines.
“As paradoxical as it may seem at first, it stops some diarrhea. This is why we can say that pollen is a regulator of the intestinal function, especially since it has a beneficial effect, which is no less remarkable, in cases of enterocolitis where it makes bloating, fermentation with pain and colic gas disappear in a short time. In colibacillary syndromes, it has given excellent results, alone or in combination with the classic drugs for this disease.”
In case of constipation: 1 level tablespoon before each of the three meals until improvement.
In case of diarrhea: 1 level tablespoon morning and evening.
Pollen and prostatism
Among the “major” indications of pollen, Dr Donadieul cites prostatism, the urinary disorders and complications caused by prostate hypertrophy. Pollen can be used either as a preventive or curative measure and can sometimes allow the patient to avoid surgery.
The doses taken are those of a normal cure, i.e. about 30 grams of pollen per day, 2 tablespoons.
These are the major curative indications of pollen. But let’s go back to what we were saying: let’s not expect more from pollen (any more than from honey or royal jelly) than it can provide. Let’s look at it as a natural food rich in active principles. It is up to us to use it wisely.
Contraindication of pollen ?
Most specialists agree that pollen, a product of the beehive, is practically completely harmless, and therefore not formally contraindicated, except for those with kidney failure, for whom the treatment cannot be given without medical advice.
But what about pollen allergies?
Isn’t there an obvious contraindication to this product?
This question is often asked, since pollen immediately evokes allergy, and in this case, the widespread form of allergic reaction known as pollinosis, or more commonly, hay fever, which can cause asthma attacks in people predisposed to this type of condition.
What exactly is it? We have seen that the pollination of flowers can take place in different ways : it is either “direct” (when the flower pollinates itself), or “indirect” or “crossed”. In this case, the fertilizing agent, i.e. the one who transmits the pollen from one flower to another, is either an insect (mostly bees) or the wind. In learned terms, pollen transported by insects is called entomophilic, and anemophilic pollen is called wind-borne. However, and let us insist on this point, it is the latter that is responsible for “respiratory-type allergic affections and not the pollen from the hive, “collected” by bees, and not “transported” by the wind.
excerpts from La Santé par le miel by Jean-François Chèzeries (LDP)