Pine pollen is currently one of my favourite adaptogens. I started using it over a year ago, but taking it religiously every day for about 8 months now. This potent superfood works with your body to help restore homeostasis, and is particularly good when it comes to hormonal and reproductive health. Pine pollen is particularly good for fitness junkies because it is a powerful anti-inflamatory, and contains an combination of micro-nutrients and androgenic properties that boost energy, libido, support metabolic activity, boost testosterone in men, and help restore healthy estrogen. Pine pollen is so full of nutrients it actually serves as a great replacement for the average multivitamin.
WHAT IS IT?
Pine pollen is basically the male reproductive aspect of the pine tree, it spreads from cones and pollinates the surrounding areas as pollen blows in the wind and is carried by birds and animals. These are not the type of woody pine cones you might be picturing, those are the female cones that contain seeds. Pine pollen is created in such abundance during the spring, not only to fertilize the pine trees but to nourish the soil and boost the fertility/ reproductive health of animals during mating season. As a reproductive function for trees- this superfood also has a profoundly supportive quality to our human reproductive and hormonal systems! Gotta love nature.
Benefits of Pine Pollen
Pine pollen contains over 200 bioavailable nutrients including, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and natural phyto-androgens (DHEA, Testosterone, androstenedione, and androsterone).
- Assists in restoring healthy androgen (testosterone) levels
- Assits in restoring healthy balanced estrogen levels
- Increased sex-drive and libido
- Increased fertility
- Naturally boosts testosterone and promotes muscle growth in both men and women
- Anti-fatigue and to promote cardiovascular health, lowering LDL and vLDL cholesterol
- Contains compounds known to promote skin elasticity and overall skin health
- Helps increase immune system health
- Anti-inflammatory effects with benefits for chronic pain (such as arthritis)
- Contains superoxide dismutase (SOD), associated with improved heart, blood, liver, and brain health
- Improves cognitive functions
- Contains the amino acid glutathione, known to help detoxify the body and boost the health of the liver and gallbladder
- Promotes prostate health
- Antioxidant effects
- Weight management and aid in building muscle mass.
My favourite benefit is that the androgens help our bodies rid themselves of excess estrogen, which is a terrible problem in todays modern plastic-filled xenoestrogenic world.
How much to take?
In traditional Chinese medical texts, 5 grams per day was added to food for its medicinal adaptogenic qualities (1 teaspoon). If you're new to adaptogens, you can start out at 1/2 tsp daily, and work your way up from there. The suggested use for a tincture will depend on the potency of the liquid- follow the guidance of the brand, and make sure to hold it in your mouth for 1-2 minutes (to facilitate absorption through the mouth directly into the blood stream) before swallowing. A little goes a long way when it comes to adaptogens- the key is consistency, and quality. Adaptogens are fantastic tools to help your body combat stress of all kinds, but you need to commit to using them at least 4-5x a week.
That being said, I'm a pine pollen fiend at the moment, and will occasionally dump a shamanic dose (1 tablespoon) in my morning drink or smoothie.
Bioavailability: Raw vs. Cracked Cell Pine Pollen vs. tinctured
Most of the pine pollen available on the market will be "cracked cell wall" which basically means that the pine pollen has undergone a process to crack open the pollen membrane to render it more bio-available. TCM Adaptogen Warehouse writes that, "the pine pollen cell wall has extraordinary strong stability and radioresistance character. Digestive juice of human or any monogastric animal can not break the Pine Pollen cell wall. Therefore, for better consumption of nutrition inside the cell wall, physical breaking of pine pollen cell wall is necessary". Although most companies maintain this belief, Canadian Pine Pollen Co. introduced me to a new point of view recently.
The following is an excerpt from the Canadian Pine Pollen Co. website, who are one of the only pine pollen products I have found to not undergo the "cracked cell wall" method:
It's hard to know for sure what is true when so many people are saying different things, and energetically I feel very called to both styles of pollen. I think it's good to mix it up when it comes to strains, varieties, and ways of consumption- so I'm happy to intuitively use one or the other based on how I'm feeling (...yes, I have an entire shelf dedicated solely to my pine pollen collection!)
My advice here is pretty much my advice when it comes to any and all supplements and styles of eating: follow your intuition. Check out different companies (I've featured my 4 favourites below), and follow your heart. A major part of any supplement I choose to buy is the vibe of the company, because products are infused with the alchemical vibration of their producers. Each human is completely individual, and your body knows what it needs- raw could be better for someone, cracked-cell for another, and tincture for the third. Your own needs transform over time as well, so check-in with yourself to see if you're still feeling good about your supplements. The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself point blank; does my body feel good/ is my body excited to take this? How does it taste energetically? Although a food/ supplement might not physically taste good, there is a deep intrinsic awareness of when something is serving your health, or not. Just because I'm writing about the benefits of pine pollen, does not mean your body needs it. However, if reading this excites you and pine pollen spikes your curiosity, trust your body's wisdom and buy from a reputable brand (or harvest your own!).
Because of the seasonal nature of pine pollen, and the fact pine trees have loads of pollen- you don't have to worry about the ethical + sustainable aspects of collecting wild pine pollen. In fact, if you blink- you might actually miss the harvest all together. Pine trees create an immense amount of pollen, and it is said that the purpose of which isn't purely for its own fertilization- but "to provide a deep nourishing bath of pollen to the whole forrest" (- Herbal Jedi). The pollen is so abundant that it goes to feed the whole forrest.. (my heart!)
Pine pollen season is during the spring, which will vary specifically from area to area, and also on the spring weather itself (late/ early spring). To recognize a real pine tree, look for the sheath at the base of the pine needles- most pine trees have 2-5 pine needles in every sheath.
A good way to know that the pollen is ready to harvest is first and foremost that you will see the pollen blowing in the wind. The cones will be puffy and full of pollen dust, which will come off in your hands when you pick it. Not all cones are at the same level of maturity, so if some of your cones are not producing pollen, you can lay them out on a tray in the sunshine, out of the wind, until they're fully opened.
To harvest you just twist off the cone, and it will easily pop off the tree.
I will soon be sharing a guide to separating the pollen from the cone, and turning your pine pollen powder into a powerful tincture... stay tuned!
Brands I vibe
I am a serious pine poller lover, and since this spring was my first time harvesting it in the wild- I have previously been purchasing pollen for consumption. Here are 4 brands that I love.
sun potion (cracked cell wall)
Sun Potion is the first ever brand of pine pollen I used, and I still love it. I trust the company and use many of their products. Their pine pollen is a single origin, high-altitude, cracked cell wall Mason Pine Pollen, collected in Yunnan Province, China. Note that normally I try to stay away from Chinese products because their organic claims are extremely suspicious and often false, but pine pollen is almost always sourced in China, where they have been using it medicinally for thousands of years.
Surthrival (dual extracted tincturE + Cracked cell wall)
Harvested from the Masson Pine (Pinus massoniana) tree, Surthrival offers a cracked-cell pine pollen in capsules, or a dual extracted tincture. The Surthrival tinctures are next level, using organic alcohol to extract the pollen, and contains nettle rhizome and eleuthero root for heightened androgenic support. It also comes in a miron glass dropper. The tincture is the most powerful way to consume a pine pollen supplement.
Canadian pine pollen co. (RAW)
Canadian Pine Pollen Co. is the newest addition to my pine pollen collection, and this company has me pretty dang excited for a few reasons. First of all, it's Canadian. Secondly, they have two varieties of pine pollens: Ponderosa pine and Lodgepole pine; they have a difference in taste, smell and colour, and pollen grain size- but for the most part nutritionally similar. Their website states that, "it comes down to personal preference and which resonates with you the most" - a concept I couldn't agree with more. They also sell bulk pollen by the KILO if you're obsession gets #nextlevel.
elemental wizdom (cracked cell wall)
Elemental Wizdom is a crazy good company, doing some seriously alchemical stuff. I had been following them for years before biting the bullet and ordering their 8oz (HUGE) bag of cracked-cell pine pollen, along with their superhuman enzymes and superhuman probiotics. You know how some companies are just doing some out of this world cosmicAF wizard shit? Yeah well, Elemental Wizdom is one of those companies. Their pollen is cracked cell wall wild pollen.
That's it folks! I hope you enjoyed learning about pine pollen, and are as excited to incorporate it into your daily lives as I am! See below for links to more info.
A Deeper Dive
7 Benefits of Pine Pollen by Empire Herbs HERE
3 Benefits of Pine Pollen for Women HERE
Pine Pollen Benefits via Raw Forrest Foods HERE
Superfood From the Trees: The Incredible Health Benefits of Pine Pollen HERE
PIne Pollen benefits in arthritis / chronic inflammatory conditions HERE
Research on the Therapeutic Effect of Pine Pollen on Prostatic Hypertrophy HERE
Research into the Oxidation Resistance of Pine Pollen HERE
The protective effect of pollenpini of injure caused by alcohol HERE
Improvement of Pine Pollen on Learning and Memory Disorder HERE
Research into the Anti Aging Effects of Pine Pollen HERE