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At first glance, pine pollen may seem too commonplace to be a nutritional powerhouse. There are millions upon millions of pine trees throughout the northern hemisphere. Is nature really that generous with a superfood?
The short answer: yes!
For two thousand years, pine pollen has been a longevity tonic in traditional Chinese medicine. The golden powder is a "micronutrient storeroom," rich in amino acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and flavonoids (1). In this article, you'll learn the nutritional benefits of pine pollen and the top five ways pine pollen can support health.
What is Pine Pollen?
It starts with pinecones.
Pine trees have male and female cones.
Male cones create pollen. Pine pollen travels on the wind to land on female cones, fertilizing them. The fertilized female cones germinate and grow into trees.
Each speck of pollen must be potent enough to fertilize and stimulate the growth of a whole new tree. This makes pine pollen a cocktail of vitality.
In fact, a traditional Chinese text calls pine pollen "micronutrient storerooms." It's as though each cell is a pantry with a full spectrum of nutrients! Those nutrients make it possible for a fertilized seed to survive winter and grow into a sapling.
According to laboratory studies, pine pollen contains:
- Amino Acids
- Vitamins B & E
Keep reading to learn about the potential health benefits of each of these all-natural compounds!
Pine Pollen Benefits
Pine pollen has been popular for millennia. According to traditional Chinese medicine, consuming pine pollen promotes a happy life. It is believed to support overall good heath, fertility, and longevity.
Traditionally, pine pollen was used in the treatment of fatigue, viruses, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and prostate diseases (1).
Pine pollen is considered both a food and a medicine. Pine pollen must be prepared for digestion by extracting in hot water or alcohol (or both, as with our own dual extraction). Humans can't digest raw pine pollen. The powder can also be cooked into foods.
Pine Pollen Science
Scientific curiosity in pine pollen is only now catching up with tradition's fascination. So far, most studies have been conducted in vitro or on non-human mammals.
Many bioactive nutrients have been identified in pine pollen. Studies on these nutrients derived from other sources show them supporting immune response, stress recovery, endocrine function, and libido.
Here are the top five ways pine pollen may benefit health:
- Supporting the Immune System
- Supporting Recovery from Stress
- Supporting Hormonal Balance
- Supporting Healthy Testosterone
- Supporting Healthy Libido
Read on to learn more about how the bioactive nutrients in pine pollen support health in these five incredible ways!
1. Pine Pollen Supports the Immune System
Pine pollen contains powerful growth stimulants and nutrients.
These natural, plant steroids help fertilized pine seeds germinate and thrive in a competitive ecosystem. They are powerful food for humans, too.
The brassinosteroids, gibberellins, and polysaccharides in natural pine pollen have immune-activating properties (6).
Brassinosteroids are plant steroids that help seedlings develop (3). They are similar to naturally-occurring animal steroids and have been shown to be biologically active in mammals. Brassinosteroids have also been shown to have antiviral properties and stimulate the immune system in mice (4).
Polysaccharides are long-chain carbohydrates that give plants strength and structure (7). One special polysaccharide, arabinogalactan, is abundant in the pine family and in wild-harvested pine pollen (6, 8).
2. Pine Pollen Supports Recovery from Stress
Stress is a given.
And, despite the overused mantra "no pain, no gain," you will not grow tougher, stronger, or more resilient by ignoring signs of stress in your body.
But if you listen to your body's signals, you can become more resilient to stress in the long term!
Unfortunately, stress reduces dopamine and immune function by preventing your body from entering rest-and-digest mode.
This is one reason chronic stress causes fatigue.
Under chronically stressful conditions, the body isn’t able to regulate energy, metabolism, or mood efficiently.
Stress was useful to our ancestors, motivating them to seek out safe places to eat, rest, and raise families. Reactivity to stress kept them alert to hazards. But modern human habitats often lack the peace that allowed our ancestors to recover from stress.
Modern life is pushes the limits of our natural stress response. Today, our environments are louder, brighter, and relentlessly fast-paced.
This causes extraordinary stress. For example, studies have shown that some regions of the brain will always feel unsafe while riding in a car. Just riding in a car can trigger a stress response over and over (10)!
Fortunately, nutrition can support recovery from stress.
Pine pollen contains DHEA and phenylalanine, which each repair the effects of stress and improve mood (6).
DHEA is a key player in the human endocrine system (6, 13). DHEA contributes to metabolism and to the production of hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Under stress, the adrenals reduce production of DHEA so they can make adrenaline and cortisol instead. Pine pollen may supplement low DHEA caused by frequent or ongoing stressors.
Phenylalanine is an important amino acid that stimulates dopamine in the brain (11, 12). Our neurons need dopamine to fire up pleasure and satisfaction. When dopamine is present, motivation and focus increase as spirits rise.
The natural combination of these two compounds in pine pollen may give a double boost of support for recovery from chronic stress.
3. Pine Pollen Supports Hormonal Balance
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a service announcement that you won't hear often enough:
A healthy ratio of testosterone and estrogen is crucial for both women and men.
While testosterone is sometimes referred to as a “male hormone,” women also produce—and need—testosterone. Men typically have more of it, but testosterone is not exclusively male.
In fact, women’s ovaries produce testosterone (16), and women need testosterone to create new blood cells. Menstruating women, of course, must make new blood cells every month.
In women, low testosterone can cause lethargy and muscle weakness, and can affect libido, sexual satisfaction, and mood (17).
In men, low testosterone can cause fatigue, irritability, and insomnia. It can also lead to fragile bones, hot flashes, erectile dysfunction, and reduced libido (18).
On the other hand, estrogen is often referred to as the “female hormone.” However, estrogen also plays a critical role in male sexual function (23).
The presence of both testosterone and estrogen is crucial for male and female health. Excess estrogen in women can cause fatigue, anxiety, restless sleep, and decreased libido. In men, high estrogen can cause infertility, erectile dysfunction, and growth of their breast tissues, which is called gynecomastia (19).
Pine pollen may help balance depleted testosterone or excess estrogen. This is because pine pollen contains DHEA, testosterone, and the androgen stimulants androsterone and epitestosterone (13).
DHEA is one of the key players in the hormone system because the body converts DHEA into either testosterone or estrogen, depending on what the body needs. Thus, the DHEA in pine pollen can support hormonal balance, whether the body is craving more testosterone or more estrogen.
These natural hormone precursors in pine pollen may contribute to feelings of motivation, will-power, satisfaction, and a sense of well-being.
4. Pine Pollen Supports Healthy Testosterone
Even the shape of a male pinecone is suggestive of virility. Check out this cone preparing to release pollen:
Gibberellins, the plant steroids with immune-activating properties, are so structurally similar to testosterone that they bind to testosterone receptors in the human body (6, 21). Thus, they mimic the physiological effects of testosterone to stimulate energy, libido, and sexual performance (6). Gibberellins may even help regulate the prostate, preventing atrophy or reducing an enlarged prostate (6).
The naturally-occurring levels of testosterone, DHEA, and gibberellins in pine pollen tincture can be enough to raise testosterone levels within minutes of consumption (6).
5. Pine Pollen Supports Healthy Libido
It is amazing how synced the human body is with nature.
Pine pollen is the trees' method of love-making. Or, well, making little baby trees, at least.
Would you be surprised to learn the compounds that make pine pollen virile enhance human libido too?
Pine pollen is a natural aphrodisiac for both women and men! Since the fine, golden powder will spread in the wind to find its mate, it makes sense that pine pollen is a highly-concentrated cocktail of vitality.
As well as containing testosterone, androgens, and DHEA, pine pollen also contains a rich amino acid profile supporting libido.
Two of these amino acids, phenylalanine and tyrosine, are L-dopa precursors. L-dopa is metabolized into dopamine in both the heart and the brain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I purchase a tincture or a powder?
Traditionally, pine pollen was most often prepared as a tincture or by cooking into food. (Some polysaccharides cannot be digested raw. Consumed raw, they will simply pass through the gut).
Extracts and tinctures prepare the pollen for digestion and absorption. The pine pollen is soaked in alcohol, hot water, or both. This opens the pollen's cell walls so the gut can absorb the available nutrients. Some tinctures typically use only alcohol or only hot water. Our wild-harvested pine pollen tincture uses both methods for maximum efficiency.
Tinctures are concentrated in liquid form, making them easy-to-use and travel-friendly. Tinctures can be consumed alone, or added to culinary dishes or beverages.
Packaged powders are often raw and may be added to culinary dishes or blended beverages, like smoothies. Powders can be messy, which sometimes leads to wasted product.
What is the recommended dosage?
Too few medical studies have been conducted to establish an optimal dosage for pine pollen. Labels on supplements will typically suggest the recommended dose to start with. Always talk to your health care provider if you have questions about adding pine pollen to your diet.
Does pine pollen cause side effects?
Too few medical studies have been conducted to establish whether there are side effects. If you have a pine allergy, or are nursing or pregnant, you should not use pine pollen. Children and teens should not use pine pollen. If you have concerns about high testosterone, you should be monitored by a health care professional before and while using pine pollen.
If you have any questions or concerns about using a pine pollen supplement, be sure to discuss them with your health care provider.
Raise Your Spirits—and Plant Trees— with Pine Pollen Tincture
The stressors of the modern world take a toll on our bodies. If we feel fatigued, unmotivated, or detached, it’s easy to see why we might lose connection with the people and projects that matter to us. Luckily, our wild bodies know how to get the most out of superfoods like pine pollen tincture.
Plus, with every purchase of Wild Kingdom extracts, you heal your connection with the earth by helping to reforest our planet. Every sale from our store donates to One Tree Planted, an organization that shares our mission for sustainability by planting trees worldwide.
The numbers in parenthesis are click-able links to the sources cited in this article. Stephen Buhner's book, Pine Pollen: Ancient Medicine for a New Millennium, is available at Barnes & Noble. We do not receive any proceeds through these links.