As soon as I forget the misery, it hits me all over again–those darned seasonal allergies.
Along with millions of others, I suffer from a nasty ebb and flow of itching, sneezing, fatigue, and the occasional outbreak of lovely hives. I turn into quite the monster. When I hunt, fish, and explore the outdoors, I want my body running at a 10, not dragging along, squinting through blurry eyes, sneezing and snorting (check out an elegant scientific explanation of the process on the right).
My dreadful histaminic condition was one of the reasons I started keeping my own honeybees four years ago–I had read that local honey was a good way to build up a resistance to the crap in the air that was messing me up so badly. What I didn’t know, until after getting my bees, was that it’s not just the honey that can help with allergies: directly ingesting the pollen is an allergy-battling method, too.
Check out these stats from “Bee Pollen Research & Studies” by Angela at http://www.bee-pollen-buzz.com
As reported in the Journal of Allergy:
• 73 % of patients with hay fever averaged a 75% improvement in their symptoms when given Bee Pollen orally
• 78% of asthma patients averaged a 75% improvement after taking Bee Pollen
• 17.8% of hay fever sufferers and 33.3% of asthmatics experienced a complete improvement on oral Bee Pollen supplements
Even for those lucky non-allergic people, pollen is a good addition for pepping up a morning smoothie with vitamins and protein. The more color variations in the pollen, the better: colorful pollen indicates that the bees visited a greater variety of plants and flowers.
To collect the pollen brought into the hive by the bees, I use a drawer-style pollen trap on my hives. This contraption forces the bees to exit and enter their hive through two sets of mesh, which scrape the pollen they have collected from their legs before they can deposit it into the comb inside the hive; this pollen then drops down into the collection drawer below.
I can then eat the collected pollen, starting out with a pinch-sized dose; if all goes well, the next day I’ll take a teaspoon, and the next day a tablespoon (to see how I react). My largest dosage is one tablespoon up to three times per day. It’s pretty darned good in Bulletproof Coffee. As different plants begin to bloom, the pollen coming into the hive changes, so it’s a good idea to work up to the tablespoon several times over the course of the season. There’s always a risk of experiencing a serious allergic reaction when ingesting significant amounts of something that makes you itch and sneeze.
Now, of course, this regimen only works with the pollen that the bees are actually bringing into the hive. The fall pollen isn’t going to help me with my spring allergies, and vice-versa. By no means will this addition to my diet “cure” my allergies: eating pollen in no way helps me with my pet dander allergies, mold allergies, or dust mite allergies. There are also many pollens that the bees just don’t collect–the nutritional value of pollen from some plants just isn’t a good enough quality for collecting and bringing back as food for the baby bees. I’m ok with that.
I’m just trying to make a dent here.
To store the pollen for longer than a few days, I can dehydrate it in my lovely little Excalibur, or put it into a tightly sealed container in the fridge; however, I don’t seem to ever collect enough to worry about storage.
I can’t say that I’ve had incredible improvements yet, but I also haven’t been taking pollen daily. I’ll update this post with my progress as the year continues.