I suffer from indoor, outdoor, seasonal and year round allergies. I’m also mildly allergic to cats. And I swell up if I get stung by a bee. Or get bitten by any type of bug. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I’m at least not allergic to peanut butter or gluten or anything else that would keep me from eating the delicious things I love. As I write this, I am taking frequent breaks to either sneeze or grab a Kleenex to tend to my body’s reaction to the extremely high pollen count in my city. I feel downright miserable, but this is hardly the worst I’ve been during allergy season, especially when compared to last year. Instead of popping extra allergy pills and going crazy with antihistamine eye drops as I usually do, this season I’ve been self-medicating with bee pollen.
Bee pollen contains protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and lipids. One teaspoon of bee pollen takes a bee an entire month to collect, working eight hour days. Each pellet contains over two million flower pollen grains. When taken as a supplement, it is said to enhance energy, help prevent asthma, aid in digestion, and boost the immune system. But most important, it can be used to treat allergies. Taking pollen reduces the presence of histamine, according to Dr. Leo Conway, MD of Colorado. It does so by helping the body to build a resistance and immunity so that the body’s reaction is less severe once pollen is swirling around the air we have no choice but to breathe. For that reason, it is important to find a honey farm locally and purchase bee pollen from them in order to get a source containing local pollens and to check to ensure the pollen granules are many different colors, signifying it contains pollens from many plants.
The recommended dosage is a teaspoon or two per day, every day. When I received my jar, I began with slightly less than half a teaspoon due to concern over how my body would react. I’m lucky I didn’t take any more than that; I developed a rash, my breathing was labored, and I felt slightly drugged. Upon doing further research, I reduced my dosage to one to two pellets per day to get my body used to the pollen. The breathing issues were thankfully a one time thing. It took about one week for rashes to stop appearing and two weeks for the drugged feeling to stop 100%. I began slowly increasing the dosage and playing with how I took it, finally settling on about half a teaspoon a day taken mixed in my tea and water throughout the day.
The change, while minor, has been huge for me so far. Today is the first day I’ve truly felt that my allergies were on my nerves, and since my son gave me his cold, I can’t say for 100% certainty that allergies are fully to blame for how I feel. I deal with itchy eyes every year without fail, and last year it caused my eyes to become severely dry due to the antihistamine’s drying them out, plus I suffered corneal abrasions and looked like a zombie for months. Now, instead of spending my entire day either using drops or suffering the itch, my eyes have barely been bothering me at all; I’ve used antihistamine drops twice in the last two months which is probably a record for me. I’ve gone from taking one to two 24 hours allergy pills per day to get relief to taking no more than one per day, but strictly on an as-needed basis. In the past seven days, I’ve taken two pills. Another record for me.
In order to get the full effects of the bee pollen, I will have to continue taking it year round, continue to use a local source, and that should result in me seeing an even tamer allergy season next time around. Of course, this season has really only just begun. I still have to deal with the grass pollens filling my office every Tuesday when the grounds crew mows. I have a lot of challenges ahead of me that I will hopefully get through better than last year. But for someone like me, who will have crazy sneezing fits out of the blue at the slightest hint of a flower, I feel optimistic about the future if I continue putting trust into bee pollen.
The Journal of Allergy reports that 73% of patients using bee pollen reported a 75% improvement in their symptoms. 17% reported a complete improvement and were free of symptoms. Since taking bee pollen orally trains the body to stop producing and releasing histamine, the body’s inflammatory response (sneezing, itching, cough, runny nose) is not triggered and people like me are not suffering. Now, these are all claims that don’t have a pretty FDA stamp of approval, so one could say that this is as legit as the latest diet pill craze. But I’m drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. It’s been helping me and I believe it will continue to help me if I continue to take it. If I can train my body to stop trying to kill itself any time we’re around a budding plant, and I can do so without drugs that only treat symptoms and not the underlying cause, you damn well better believe I’m going to try it.
As I said, the real test is still coming, but I feel confident that I can handle it and will do so better than years past. I want to be able to have the windows down in the car without worrying about what is blowing in my face. I want to open the windows in my home without becoming paranoid about what is flying in the cool breeze. I want to take my dog for a walk without sneezing fifty times and annoying him while he tries to sniff out bad guys. I want to wake up and not feel like the first thing I must do is run to the cabinet for pills and drops. I want to feel normal. I just hope bee pollen really can get me there.