Pine pollen is unsurprisingly pollen that is extracted from pine trees. It has had many benefits associated with its use and has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Recently pine pollen has been touted as a testosterone booster and fertility supplement. In this article we will examine the six main health benefits of pine pollen.
One thing to note before we start though, pine pollen is also talked about as if it is one product. But actually, there are several varieties of pine trees out there, and the pollen from each is different. The commonly used pollen for supplements comes from the Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) which has been linked with vitamin D and testosterone increases, while traditional Chinese medicine uses pine trees such as Chinese Red Pine and South Chinese Pine for perhaps obvious reasons.
The Potential Benefits Of Pine Pollen
Below is a list of every potential benefit that's backed by credible scientific research:
It May Reduce Inflammation
A 2009 study by Lee, Kim, & Choi examined the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of pine pollen in vitro (this means that the experiment was performed outside of the body) .
The study found that pine pollen did in fact help to reduce inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme that causes inflammation. It may also increase secretion of proteins that help to regulate inflammation.
There seems to be some evidence that pine pollen is effective at reducing inflammation and that it does so using a variety of mechanisms. More research is needed though before it can be recommended to treat inflammation.
It May Help Treat Arthritis
Thanks to its potential anti-inflammatory properties, pine pollen may actually be able to bring some relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Most forms of arthritis occur when the body’s defense system turns on itself and attacks healthy joint tissue which leads to damaged, stiff, joints. Osteoarthritis is not caused by inflammation, so would be unaffected by pine pollen.
A 2009 study published in Phytotherapy Research looked into the effect of pine pollen on chronic arthritis in mice . The study found a significant reduction in symptoms and concluded that pine pollen may have a useful role in the treatment of chronic inflammatory arthritis.
As of yet, there does not appear to be any human studies on this though, so we will have to think of it as an untested benefit.
It May Be An Effective Pain Killer
Another avenue that is being explored is the effects of pine pollen as an analgesic. The term analgesic means pain killer, and there is always a market for “natural” supplements that can work as alternatives to paracetamol or ibuprofen. The pollen from the Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora) has been found to be as effective as regular pain killer drugs when supplemented in high doses .
This is a decent benefit, it is low-risk, as you would just be treating mild pain and if it didn’t work then no harm done. The evidence that we have available to us does seem to indicate that it will work though.
It is worth noting that this effect has not been noted with the Scots Pine variety which is the most common supplement. So please bear this in mind.
Pine pollen Is A Good Source of Vitamin D
There are many benefits associated with increasing your vitamin D intake, but only if your levels are quite low. However, in many countries – particularly colder ones, vitamin D deficiency can be quite common during the winter months.
Studies have shown that increasing your serum vitamin D levels can improve your mood and help fight depression . A 2008 study found that increasing vitamin D levels can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, and there is evidence to suggest that vitamin D may help increase the testosterone levels in men who are deficient .
Pine pollen does not contain an abundance of vitamin D, but there definitely is enough to help tip the scales if you were to take it alongside other sources of vitamin D. A 1987 study found that pine pollen from Scots pine trees contained vitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D .
It May Increase Testosterone Levels In Men
This benefit is a little controversial, technically pine pollen appears to increase testosterone levels in men, but the difference is small. However, a lot of supplement companies are promoting pine pollen as some sort of incredible testosterone booster. This is not the case.
It may have a small effect on men who have significantly lowered testosterone (which is a surprisingly large amount of men), but if your testosterone levels are already adequate you are unlikely to notice any difference from taking pine pollen.
Of course, there are many benefits to increasing your testosterone levels – even if the increase is minute. That’s why the testosterone booster industry is such a massive part of the supplement world. Increasing your testosterone can increase fertility, libido, mood, cognition, strength, and it can help to raise your metabolism which may lead to a small increase in fat loss (if combined with exercise and a calorie-controlled diet).
Pine pollen from Scots pine trees appears to contain several steroid hormones: testosterone, epitestosterone, androstenedione, and vitamin D . All of which can lead to an increase in testosterone levels in men.
Despite pine pollen containing lots of different steroid hormones, the amounts contained within a normal serving would be too small for most people to see any difference. Remember too that there are different forms of pine pollen sold, and that only Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) appears to contain any steroid hormones.
It May Have Anti-Aging Properties
Our final benefit is another one that needs more research before you can call it a definitive benefit. Still, there is some interesting research coming out. A 2012 study looked at the effect of pine pollen on senile mice . The study found that pine pollen can inhibit damage and mutation of mitochondria (the parts of our cells that produce energy). By preventing their natural damage and mutation, pine pollen can be said to slow down the aging process.
You could also say that the anti-inflammatory properties that pine pollen appears to possess may also count as anti-aging. Still, until we have human studies, this is all just guesswork.
In all honesty, pine pollen appears to be a pretty dull supplement. There is some potential, but nowhere near enough scientific proof that it does … well … anything; any of the benefits mentioned above are either minimal, or they are unproven in human studies.
Pine pollen does not appear to be an up and coming supplement with a lot of scientific buzz. It appears to be a largely forgotten about supplement that has had some aggressive marketing from supplement companies.
Probably best that you avoid this supplement, unless you have unlimited funds at your disposal. In fact, even then it probably wouldn’t be worth buying.