History of Pine Pollen
Pine Pollen has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). And also closely related to the uses in Japan and Korea. It is mentioned in several Chinese classics such as Shennong’s Herbal Classic, The Pandect of Materia Medica. This dates back to 200 A.D., during the Han Dynasty.
“Pine Pollen tastes sweet and mild and has no toxicity, it mainly helps with vicious Qi from cold and fever in the heart and abdomen, inducing urination, eliminating extravasated blood, nourishing Qi, strengthening energy, and extending lifespan for long-term consumption.”
Meanwhile, the Tang Materia Medica from around 657 to 659 A.D. states:
“Pine Pollen also names pine yellow because it looks like cattail pollen, long-term intaking can lighten the weight and its treatment effect is even better than pine bark, leaf, and resin.”
In TCM, Pine Pollen is considered sweet and mild, useful for the liver and spleen meridians. One of its main functions is eliminating dampness in the body.
Looking at it from the three treasure model, Pine Pollen is best considered as a Yang Jing substance. As Jing is closely related to hormonal health, this makes a lot of sense. For more about Jing read this article All About Jing.
While Jing may be its main property, it certainly has some Qi effects which can be seen in its help with energy and other functions. It has undoubtedly been used all over the world over millennia and in other areas where pine trees grow; however, there just aren’t any good records of it.
Some specific mentions and uses in historical texts include:
Shi Liao Ben Cao/Dietetic Materia Medica from the Tang Dynasty – Pine Pollen of half a kilogram mixed with 5 kilograms of honey. This is taken internally and was said to promote beauty in the face.
Shan Jia Qing Gong from the Song Dynasty – Chinese Pine Pollen cakes made with water and rice flour is to be made “according to the shape of ancient dragon cakes.” These taste and smell sweet as well as help people’s appearance become more beautiful and increase will.
What’s In Pine Pollen?
The nutritional content of Pine Pollen is going to depend on the species, location, time of harvest, and other factors. It is natural and thus will have natural variations, which can be fairly large. The amounts quoted here are from various sources that have tested them or our own independent testing. Recognize that each batch and especially pine pollens from different species will have different amounts. That being said, the same components should all be present in more or fewer degrees.
Generally, Pine Pollen has over 200 bioactive nutrients within it. This is one reason we’ve called it “Nature’s Multivitamin.”
Each of the following is for a three-gram amount of the powder.
Amino Acids include:
• Alanine 17mg
• Arginine 30mg
• Aspartic acid 33mg
• Cysteine 3mg
• Glutamic acid 47mg
• Glycine 21mg
• Histidine 6mg
• Isoleucine 16mg
• Leucine 25mg
• Lysine 24mg
• Phenylalanine 17mg
• Proline 26mg
• Serine 16mg
• Threonine 15mg
• Tryptophan 4mg
• Tyrosine 11mg
• Valine 19mg
(Note Pine Pollen is a complete protein and then some.)
• Vitamin A 1.3ug
• B1 (Thiamin) 182ug
• B2 (Riboflavin) 15ug
• B3 (Niacin) 427ug
• B6 (Pyridoxine) 39ug
• B9 (Folic Acid) 28ug
• Vitamin C 1686ug
• Vitamin E 97ug
• Vitamin D .7ug
• Beta Carotene .8ug
• Potassium 33.9mg
• Calcium 2.4mg
• Magnesium 3.3mg
• Phosphorus 89.6mg
• Iron 0.09mg
• Zinc 0.09mg
• Selenium 0.6ug
• Manganese 0.3mg
• And many more trace elements
Antioxidants and More
• Oleic acid
• Alpha Linolenic Acid
• Nucleic Acid
• Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
Notice that some of these are categories of nutrients and thus there can be many types inside them. We plan to have a Nutritional Facts panel available soon for our Pine Pollen powder, but developing that panel with this level of detail takes time and the testing is expensive. While all of these are important, it is the phyto-androgens in Pine Pollen that people are most interested in.
Pine Pollen Testosterone
Pine Pollen is ever-growing in popularity as an herbal supplement because of one main thing: Pine Pollen and testosterone.
Most people who are into nutrition have likely heard of phyto-estrogens, as they are in soy, flax, hops and many others. These are plant chemicals that are similar to estrogen and interact with our hormonal systems. However, few people have thought about phyto-androgens. (I know I didn’t until I was first introduced to Pine Pollen many years ago.) While this area is largely unstudied, Pine Pollen is one source that has lots of phyto-androgens.
While all the attention is given to the main male hormone, testosterone, this is just one of many.
These were found in the pollen of the Scotch pine, Pinus silvestris L, according to this study.
They’ve also been found in all other Pine Pollen species that have been analyzed.
There is enough data available to feel confident that all Pine Pollen species have phytoandrogens, though differing in amounts. But we don’t have enough data to say that one species is better than another at this point.
Once again, all the attention is paid to testosterone, but that is just one component.
1. DHEA has been called the anti-aging hormone. While another weak androgen, it has far-reaching effects across the body.
2. Epitestosterone appears to antagonize testosterone, meaning working against it, but very little is known about what this hormone really does.
Pine Pollen also contains many other nutrients that support hormones in varied ways, such as Vitamin D and various metabolites. These are small amounts, nothing like what you would get in an isolated Vitamin D supplement, but they do show the complementary and holistic nature of using Pine Pollen.
You may also be wondering if there has been a Pine Pollen testosterone study done in humans that shows how it affects these levels.
Unfortunately, the answer is that no, at this time, there is no such study available. Some people will say the amount of Pine Pollen phytoandrogens are simply too low to affect humans. But that’s looking at it through a reductionist lens, rather than holistically.
They do not directly supply you with enough testosterone as a prescribed testosterone replacement therapy will, but it can be beneficial in helping your body give the signal to enter a more anabolic state. And if you think that amount is small, Buhner writes, “It takes as little as four nanograms (one-thousandth of a microgram) to change our sex to men while we are developing in the womb.”