Bee pollen supplements can cause anaphylactic reactions

May 22, 2012

Although many people take bee pollen as a health supplement, it can cause severe anaphylactic reactions. However, most people are unaware of the risks, states an article published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

A case study in the journal illuminates the possible hazards of ingesting bee pollen. A 30-year-old woman with but no history of allergies to food, drugs, insects or latex had an after taking bee pollen. She had swelling of the eyelids, lips and throat, difficulty swallowing, hives and other life-threatening symptoms. After emergency treatment and discontinuation of the bee pollen supplements, there were no further reactions.

"Anaphylaxis associated with the consumption of bee pollen has been reported in the literature, but many people remain unaware of this potential hazard," write Dr. Amanda Jagdis, University of British Columbia, and Dr. Gordon Sussman, St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Anaphylactic reactions after ingesting bee pollen have been reported in people with no history of allergies or only seasonal allergies. In a Greek study in which atopic participants underwent skin tests for reactions to bee pollen, 73% (of 145 patients) had positive reactions to one or more types of bee pollen extracts.

" should be aware of the potential for reaction, and patients with pollen allergy should be advised of the potential risk when consuming these products — it is not known who will have an allergic reaction upon ingesting bee pollen," conclude the authors.

Explore further: Get ready for spring - hay fever worse in spring than summer

More information: Research paper: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.112181

Related Stories

Get ready for spring - hay fever worse in spring than summer

December 21, 2011

Hay fever (runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes) is caused by an allergy to pollen, and most commonly to grass pollen. These tiny grains bring misery to sufferers through spring and summer and pollen levels are often included ...

Probiotic drinks help against allergies

June 16, 2011

Probiotic drinks such as Yakult and Vivit can alleviate the symptoms of pollen allergies, says Wageningen UR PhD scholar Yvonne Vissers. They do this by diminishing the amounts of certain proteins that cause hay fever. The ...

Does your child have seasonal allergies or a cold?

May 15, 2012

(HealthDay) -- It can be difficult during the spring months for parents to determine whether their children have a cold or seasonal allergies, but an expert outlines how to tell the difference.

Tips for managing your child's allergies

March 19, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Allergy season can be a difficult time of year for many children and their parents.  With spring in the air, pollen is close behind.

Recommended for you

How do white blood cells move so fast?

November 22, 2016

If you fall and scrape a knee, it's the job of white blood cells called neutrophils to rush to the site of infection and chase down invading bacteria.

New treatment for allergic response targets mast cells

November 21, 2016

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have developed a method that stops allergic reactions by removing a key receptor from mast cells and basophils. Their work has implications ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Cave_Man
not rated yet May 22, 2012
Big medicine at it again with overwhelming stupidity and narrow mindedness.

The attitude of restriction is likely what got these patients in the mess they are in in the first place. Just like how if you don't develop antibodies early in life you will suffer a weakened adult immune system.

We would likely benefit greatly from an increase in exposure to specific things averaged over the long run. Bee pollen being a likely candidate. Sure taking a concentrated pill full of the same stuff that causes seasonal allergies when you haven't been exposed enough that it over your lifetime could be bad is in the case of anaphylaxis when the women ingested pollens she may have been allergic to.

It's not anyone's fault, only a reminder that we don't know the whole story. It seems like it's all sensational scare tactics to keep you away from something that has a lower chance of killing you than crossing a street.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.