Is Bee Pollen Useful For Managing Women’s Health?

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Brittney Brito
Brittney Brito

Is Bee Pollen Useful For Managing Women’s Health?

Brittney Brito, Chloe Munroe, & Emma Wynn

Poster Abstract

Bee pollen is a supplement most often used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms, allergic rhinitis, prevent premature aging, and improve stamina. [1] Although the mechanism of action behind symptom relief is largely unknown, it is thought that bee pollen has hypolipidemic effects. [2] The reduction of lipid and triacylglycerol levels in the plasma affects the concentration of several other hormones, including testosterone and estradiol. [2] Bee pollen is well tolerated in most patients but should be avoided in those with pollen allergies. The most common allergic reactions include rashes, swelling, and difficulty breathing. [1] It should also be avoided in pregnant women and patients taking warfarin since bee pollen can increase the risk of bleeding. [1] This poster aims to summarize the results of studies testing bee pollen’s effectiveness in reducing PMS and menopausal symptoms.

Clinical Evidence:
One study aimed to determine if Femal, a supplement containing bee pollen, reduces hot flashes in menopausal women. [3] This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 64 menopausal women. They took either 2 Femal tablets or 2 placebo tablets every morning for 16 weeks. Patients took a survey every 4 weeks that had them rank their symptoms on a menopause rating scale (MRS). Scores showed a statistically significant reduction in hot flash symptoms in the bee pollen group compared to the placebo group. [3] The trial concluded that daily supplementation of Femal reduces hot flash symptoms in menopausal women compared to placebo. However, it is worth noting that this study had a very small sample size, high attrition rate, and it makes overly summative claims regarding background characteristics.

A second study looked to determine whether bee pollen is efficient in alleviating menopausal symptoms in patients under treatment with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors/inactivators. [4] This prospective, randomized crossover trial comparing bee pollen-honey mixture to pure honey included 46 German women with breast cancer. Patients in each arm received 1 tablespoon of each intervention daily for 14 days with a 14-day washout in between use of pure honey or bee pollen-honey mixture. Patients were stratified based on which cancer therapy they were receiving at the time. The primary outcome was the improvement of menopausal symptoms assessed using the Menopausal Rating Scale. In total, 31 patients completed both arms of treatment. Results showed improvements in menopausal symptoms for both bee pollen-honey mixture (70.9%) and pure honey (68.3%). [4] However, the difference of improvement between the interventions was not statistically significant. [4] The authors concluded that a bee pollen-honey mixture was shown to help reduce menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients, however, compared to placebo (honey) there was no significant difference.

A third study in Norway and Denmark examined if Femal bee pollen could reduce PMS-related sleep disturbances (PSD) and PMS symptoms. [5] Women with PMS were recruited to a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. They were divided into two groups and treated with oral placebo for 5 menstrual cycles or oral placebo for one cycle followed by oral Femal for 4 cycles. Investigators assessed the reduction in PMS symptoms using the Steiner scale and in PSD using a visual analog scale. Femal was associated with a significant decrease of PSD compared to placebo, and this effect was even greater in the irritability-dominant subgroup. [5] Only patients with irritability-dominant symptoms experienced a significant reduction in PMS symptoms compared to placebo. [5] This study only evaluated one formulation of bee pollen. In addition, the study relied heavily on patient-reported data. The study size was also small, with only 101 participants. Results obtained by this study may only be generalizable to European women. In conclusion, Femal bee pollen was shown to be beneficial in reducing PMS-related sleep disturbances and irritability-dominant PMS symptoms.

Overall, studies indicate that supplements containing bee pollen may be effective at reducing PMS-related irritability and sleep disturbance symptoms as well as hot flashes in menopausal women. [3,5] This benefit does not appear to extend to cancer patients experiencing menopausal symptoms caused by cancer treatment. [4] However, these studies had several limitations including small sample size, short duration of treatment, and lack of generalizability to all patients. In order to more clearly ascertain if there is a true benefit to bee pollen supplementation, more research would have to be done. Bee pollen has a good safety profile and appears to be well tolerated in most women. Thus, bee pollen is a low-risk, possibly effective alternative for women burdened by specific PMS or menopausal symptoms.


  1. Natural Medicines Database,-herbs–supplements/professional.aspx?productid=78#scientificName
  2. Komosinska-VassevK, Olczyk P, Kaźmierczak J, Mencner L, Olczyk K. Bee pollen: chemical composition and therapeutic application. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:297425. doi:10.1155/2015/297425
  3. Winther K, Rein E, Hedman C. Femal, aherbal remedy made from pollen extracts, reduces hot flushes and improves quality of life in menopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel study. Climacteric. 2005 Jun;8(2):162-70. doi: 10.1080/13697130500117987. PMID: 16096172
  4. Münstedt K, Voss B, Kullmer U, Schneider U, Hübner J. Bee pollen and honey for the alleviation of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients. Mol Clin Oncol. 2015 Jul;3(4):869-874. doi: 10.3892/mco.2015.559. Epub 2015 May 4. PMID: 26171198; PMCID: PMC4486804. CopyDownload .nbib Format
  5. Gerhardsen G, Hansen AV, Killi M, Fornitz GG, Pedersen F, Roos SB. The efficacy of Femal in women with premenstrual syndrome: a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Adv Ther. 2008 Jun;25(6):595-607. doi: 10.1007/s12325-008-0072-4. PMID: 18568441.
Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in College of Pharmacy, Virtual Poster Session Spring 2021


  1. Hello Brittney, Chloe, and Emma – what are the two main things you learned from preparing and developing this topic?

    1. Dr. Shane-McWhorter,
      I really loved learning about all of bee pollen’s potential uses. I had never heard of bee pollen being used to improve athletic stamina before and thought it was very interesting! I also learned that many of the trials evaluating bee pollen’s efficacy and safety for uses relating to women’s health have been very small in terms of sample size. Use of bee pollen seems promising for PMS irritability-dominant symptoms and hot flashes in menopause but I would be intrigued to learn more about proposed mechanisms of action or see if the effects observed in these small trials are also seen in larger, more diverse patient populations.

      Thank you for looking at our poster and for your question!

    2. Dr. Shane-McWhorter,
      I really enjoyed working on this poster. I already had an appreciation for bees and all they do for our environment and ecosystems already. I had no idea that their pollen or honey had any medicinal properties. So my appreciation for them grew even more!
      Additionally, there are not a lot of effective pharmacologic therapies for PMS or menopausal symptoms. Although research is limited and its efficacy is still uncertain, I think awesome this could be a potential option for women without a lot of other options.

      Thank you for your comments!

    3. Hi Dr. Shane-McWhorter,

      Thank you for viewing our poster! Developing this poster was a great experience. The first take-a-way I have is how many supplements, including bee-pollen, have such limited data. Our group wanted to pick quality, relevant studies and the options were limited. Natural Medicines even did not have much info on bee pollen and our specified disease state. It was a great opportunity to search for quality studies that I can utilize for future recommendations. The second thing I learned is there is a ton of potential uses for bee pollen medically. Probably due to the 250+ biologically active substances.

  2. Interesting topic. In the first study what number of daily symptoms were reported and endpoint? Is there any evidence that bee pollen could interfere with cancer treatment? Any long term outcomes reported for bee pollen? What would you say to a person that wants to use bee pollen?

    1. Is there any evidence that bee pollen could interfere with cancer treatment?
      – The second study actually looked into the safety of bee pollen as a secondary analysis. They found that pure honey increased estradiol levels in patients taking aromatase inhibitors. This was not the case for the bee pollen honey mixture. Despite this, the article still recommends cautioning the use of bee pollen and honey and suggests more research on the topic be conducted.

    2. Dr. Shane-McWhorter,
      The first study asked patients to rank their experience of 16 different menopausal symptoms. This study’s primary endpoint was looking at whether or not there was a significant reduction in hot flashes while taking bee pollen supplements, which was statistically significant (p<0.006). The study did a secondary analysis where they clumped the rest of the 15 menopausal symptoms together, where they found that there was also an overall decrease in those symptoms among the bee pollen group as well (p<0.031). However, this secondary analysis lacked a lot of detailed data which leads me to question how it was conducted and how credible this result actually is. No long-term outcomes were reported in this study either.

      I would first ask a patient interested in bee pollen supplementation if they have any allergies to bees or pollen or if they are taking warfarin. If that's the case, this may not be the best supplement for them. Otherwise, it appears to be relatively safe and a good option for patients who have failed or are unwilling to try traditional pharmaceutical symptom therapy.

  3. I love your poster and design. I have a question on dosing. I know a lot of Asian females including my mom love to drink tea with pure honey syrup for everything from colds to sleep or maybe mesopause. Do you know what the recommend dosage for honey syrup products are since you only have oral dosage forms listed on your poster?

    1. Hey Sara,
      Honey is a great yummy additive to tea! I want to note that our poster specifies the dosing on bee pollen, which has been studied in combination with honey in some trials. I did browse Natural Medicines, however, and found 0.5-2 teaspoons is a good amount to add to tea.

    2. Hey Sara! Thank you. Our poster and studies looked specifically at bee pollen, so the doses are a little bit different. I looked a little bit more into honey specifically and it appears that it’s been most often studied at doses of 35-75 grams per day, but this varies depending on what kind of condition the honey is being used to treat.

  4. Does Bee Pollen have any benefits for men? Especially related to irritability

    This was a very informative poster. I like you you organized the information. Your presentation matched your content.

    1. Thank you for your interest in our poster! I was unable to find any studies evaluating the effects of bee pollen on irritability in men. However, some studies have demonstrated that bee pollen may be useful in decreasing inflammation of the prostate or as an add-on treatment for prostate cancer.

  5. Hello Brittney, Chloe, and Emma!
    Are there any health benefits or safety concerns for a younger female patient (not going through menopause) to use bee pollen?

    1. The third study that we presented looked into bee pollen’s efficacy in managing PMS symptoms. Most of the women in the trial were in their 20s-40s, so it seems reasonable that younger adult female patients who are not going through menopause could use it safely as long as they are not pregnant, allergic to pollen, or taking warfarin. Younger women in the study with irritability-dominant PMS symptoms experienced statistically significant improvement in sleep disturbances and general PMS symptoms. There are also other uses of bee pollen including allergic rhinitis and athletic stamina for which younger women may also experience benefit. Thanks for your question!

  6. I love the layout of you guys’ posters! I feel that many people have an anaphylactic reaction to bee stings, does taking the pollen change that risk at all?

    1. Hi Iris,
      Great question! Bee pollen is actually the accumulation of pollen from different flowers that bees carry with them (see intro section for more details). Since the source of the pollen is flowers, it does affect bee allergies. If a person has a pollen allergy, however, there is potential for an allergic reaction.

    2. Thanks Iris! That’s a very good question, and one that I thought about myself while working on this project. Our sources say to be cautious in using bee pollen in individuals with pollen allergies. It does not say anything about allergies to bee stings.

      From what I know about bee allergies, it’s usually the venom people are allergic to. Bee pollen does not contain any bee venom (although it does contain bee saliva.) If someone has a mild allergy to bee venom, I would say bee pollen could be used with caution. To be on the safe side, I would not recommend someone with an anaphylactic allergy to bee stings use this product because there aren’t enough studies looking at its safety in this population.

  7. Hi Brittney
    Great topic! I liked the honeycomb effect of your poster! Great planning! Please remember to add your name to the poster! I didn’t realize that pollen had been used for these various conditions! Did you read anything about bee pollen having beneficial effects for the immune system? Just amazing how these little workers can provide us with so much investigation! I wonder if a prior bee sting was an exclusion factor for being in these studies! Thank you for sharing your expertise on this topic!! Nice work!!

    1. Dr. Orlando,
      Thank you for your comments on our poster! I agree that it was fascinating to learn more about the numerous uses there are for bee pollen. I was able to find several studies outlining its effects on the immune system. The polysaccharides found in bee pollen have been shown to promote immune function by upregulating the production of TNF-α, TGF-β1, IgA, and IL-10 in immunosuppressed mice treated with cyclophosphamide. Another review that I read outlines how several compounds in bee pollen, including polyphenols and flavonoids, can reduce levels of proinflammatory prostaglandins by inhibiting arachidonic acid metabolism and exert beneficial effects on several types of immune cells. In addition, bee pollen has been shown to alter protein phosphorylation and modify cell signaling pathways involved in the inflammatory response. Bee pollen has even been used as a complementary agent in asthma therapy and may also have applications in treatment of COVID-19! I have linked the sources where I found this information below in case you are interested in finding out more.

      To answer your other question, the studies we have presented in our poster do not indicate an exclusion criteria of prior bee sting. However, this is an interesting question and I would be curious to see if future studies are able to definitively determine if there is a link between bee venom allergy and contraindication to bee pollen use.

      More information regarding bee pollen’s immunomodulating effects:
      1. Effects of polysaccharides from bee collected pollen of Chinese wolfberry on immune response and gut microbiota composition in cyclophosphamide-treated mice

      2. Biological and therapeutic properties of bee pollen: a review

      3. Bee products as a source of promising therapeutic and chemoprophylaxis strategies against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)

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