Superfood From the Trees:
The Incredible Health Benefits of Pine Pollen
BY JUSTIN FAERMAN
the benefits of pine pollen are hard to overstate as it truly is one of the most incredible superfoods on the face of the planet. photo: shutterstock
When one of the most spiritually aware and medically advanced ancient cultures on the planet reveres an herb for thousands of years, there’s usually good reason to believe there is something special about it. Such is the case with Pine Pollen, an extremely potent, healing, and nutrient-dense superfood that is proverbially off the radar compared to much less fantastic yet far more popular herbs and plant medicines. With over 200 bioactive nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in high concentrations, Pine Pollen is easily one of the most important and beneficial herbal medicines on the planet.One of the few substances on earth that has the ability to stimulate measurable testosterone and hormone production, Pine Pollen has been a treasure of Traditional Chinese Medicine and neighboring Asian cultures for the last 3,000 years. Known as a master rejuvenator and adaptogen, the herb has quickly become known to the wider world in recent years.
But just what exactly is so special about it? To understand that, we need to look closely at its origins. Pine Pollen is just that: the pollen of Pine trees. Pollen is actually a form of a seed; and, like all seeds, it contains the fundamental nutrients and essence necessary to grow a towering 100-foot tall Pine tree that can live for hundreds of years. As such, it contains an incredibly wide spectrum and high concentration of unique and rare nutrients that do much the same for the human body as it does for the tree itself: promotes rapid growth, rejuvenation, and healing. So much so, in fact, that it is widely considered to be the top natural medicine in the world for such properties.
Deep Cellular Rejuvenation, Nutrition, Longevity and More
In Asia, Pine Pollen is traditionally known as a powerful Jing-enhancing herb, which loosely translates to vital essence or life force. Herbs classified as Jing tonics are typically used in cases of weakness, burnout from stress or exhaustion, sexual imbalances (infertility, low libido, erectile dysfunction, etc.), or in any case where there was a need for deep rejuvenation and nourishment. The Daoists believe that we are born with a certain amount of Jing and when it runs out, we die; so, the handful of herbs able to cause the accumulation and restoration of Jing in the body are revered as supreme longevity tonics, of which Pine Pollen is one of the greatest. However, it is also used by health seekers simply looking for an added boost above and beyond their baseline state of health.
as superfoods go, one of the unique benefits of pine is that it can be easily and readily harvested at certain times of the year when the pollen is blooming.
In addition to all its other medicinal healing properties, one Pine Pollen’s greatest benefits is that it is also a nutrient-rich food, containing hundreds of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that nourish the body at a fundamental level. It’s particularly rich in B-vitamins, amino acids—which are the building blocks of protein and heavily influence neurotransmitter production and mood—and Vitamin D3, which is notoriously difficult to get from food, the only other sources being egg yolks and fish, in addition to the sun. Pine Pollen is also rich in more exotic, albeit vitally important, compounds such as nucleic acids (DNA-repairing fragments) and superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant and cell protectant, among many others.
Hormonal Balance For Men and Women: Nature’s Hormone Booster
But perhaps the most important and unique property and benefit of Pine Pollen is its ability to harmonize and powerfully rejuvenate the endocrine system, which is a rare ability in the plant world. Pine Pollen is nature’s most powerful androgen, which essentially translates to a substance that stimulates testosterone production, although other hormones also fall under the title as well. But, if you are a woman, don’t let this scare you. The reason Pine Pollen is such a powerful androgen is in large part because it is the only natural source of the “wonder hormone” DHEA, which is the precursor to not just testosterone, but estrogen and progesterone as well. With that being said, all three of these hormones are important for both men and women, just in different proportions, which is why it’s important to note that Pine Pollen is considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it is one that restores balance to the body by adapting its effects to whatever conditions are present. For this reason, it’s safe for both men and women to take, with a few exceptions, which I will discuss later on. But let’s focus back in on DHEA and how it affects the body because this is the key to understanding the health benefits of Pine Pollen and why it is such an incredible herb.DHEA is the most abundant and important precursor hormone in the human body, meaning that it is the largest raw material your body uses to produce other vital hormones. Imbalances in DHEA levels can and do throw the body’s entire hormonal production cascade out of balance. Furthermore, DHEA production tends to decline as we begin to get older; and many researchers hypothesize that many signs of aging are simply the body reflecting lower levels of DHEA production, which is why Pine Pollen is widely considered to be a longevity-enhancing herb. DHEA production occurs in the adrenal glands, so chronic stress—along with poor diet—tend to affect its production most significantly outside of aging. Low levels of DHEA are associated with immune conditions, low libido, depression, cognitive decline, and accumulation of fat on the body, among other things. Consequently, optimal DHEA levels are associated with improved mood, muscle development, fat loss, increased sex drive, and immunity, as well as a number of other significant benefits that closely mirror the effects of Pine Pollen.
Because the endocrine system, which is highly dependent on DHEA for proper functioning, controls so many different aspects of the body, Pine Pollen is also known in Chinese medicine for affecting many of the major organs of the body as a:
Lung tonic, which boosts the immune system and beautifies the skin—two areas that are both controlled by the lung organ system in Chinese Medicine.
Kidney tonic, which means that it is highly rejuvenative to the brain, hair, bones and endocrine system, which are controlled by the kidney organ.
Liver tonic, which stimulates liver regeneration and regulates bile secretion, which are controlled by the liver organ system.
Heart tonic, which increases cardiovascular endurance, raises blood levels of superoxide dismutase, and lowers cholesterol.
Spleen tonic, which nourishes the muscles and increases metabolism, which are both governed by the spleen organ system.
It is not altogether surprising that pine cones are almost identical in shape to the pineal gland, the master hormone and consciousness-regulating endocrine gland in the body. As such, mystics and occultists throughout history have used the pine cone to symbolically allude the pineal gland. Moreover, recent animal studies have shown that DHEA does significantly boost melatonin production in the pineal gland, which regulates circadian rhythms—our sleep-wake cycles—which are often thrown out of balance by synthetic lights from the various screens we tend to be surrounded with these days.
Furthermore, any plant growing wildly in its natural habitat tends to accumulate Shen, according to Daoist philosophy. Shen roughly translates to the spiritual quality or essence of all things. Due to their massive size and abundance, Pine trees are rarely cultivated, which means that Pine Pollen is almost always wild-harvested and therefore is traditionally a Shen-rich plant. Complementing its positive effects on hormonal levels, which are the master regulators of the expression of consciousness in the body, one of the primary benefits of Pine Pollen is that it tends to make us more connected to nature, our bodies, our essence, and our spirit.
Use and Selection
Pine Pollen is somewhat unique in that the Pine trees from which it is produced grow wildly in many locations across the planet, making it readily available at certain times of the year. As such, many people choose to wild harvest their own from local trees. While that’s not practical for most people, the same rules apply to the selection of quality Pine Pollen: look for wildcrafted and wild-harvested products sourced from pollution-free pristine wilderness regions without any fillers or additives.An interesting thing to note is that Pine Pollen has a thick cell wall to allow it to remain intact through the often-arduous journey of aerial dispersal from the cone buds. As such, it is important to look for cracked cell-wall products, which simply means that the pollen has undergone gentle processing (typically via concentrated air currents) to crack open the tough outer cell wall, which allows for a significantly greater bioavailability of the nutrients within the pollen cells for use by the body. While this is not essential, for example, in the case of wild harvesting yourself, if consuming non-cracked cell wall Pine Pollen, you may need to increase your dosage to compensate for the partial lack of full bioavailability.
It is also important to note that androgens such as testosterone and DHEA can only be absorbed into the bloodstream under the tongue or in the esophagus. They will not survive in the stomach and will be readily excreted by the liver. This means that to get maximum benefit from Pine Pollen its best to mix the raw powder with a tiny bit of water and then hold it under your tongue for a minute or so to allow it to be absorbed sublingually.
Although Pine Pollen is safe and beneficial for women in general, because of its strong androgenic properties, it can influence the sex of an unborn child to male if taken in significant quantities during pregnancy. As such, it is wise to consult with an experienced naturopathic physician, midwife, or herbalist if you are planning on doing so.
And as with any herb, start slow and work your way up to higher dosages to see how your body reacts, giving it time to adjust accordingly.
Recommended Pine Pollen Products
‘Di Tao’ Wildcrafted Pine Pollen Powder
Sun Potion offers a gently cracked cell wall Pine Pollen powder wildcrafted in the ‘Di Tao’ (authentic source) Yunnan Province of China, where it was first mentioned in ancient Daoist texts.
Raw Wild-Harvested Pine Pollen Powder
Samsara Herbs offers cracked cell wall Pine Pollen powder wild-harvested from robust pine trees at the base of the Himalayan Mountains. Low temperature processing ensures maximum bioavailability of nutrients and beneficial effects in the body.
High Potency Pine Pollen Capsules
Lost Empire Herbs
Lost Empire Herbs offers highly potent, ultra-pure pine pollen capsules in a convenient amber, light and heat resistant jar. Wild crafted in a pristine wilderness, cracked cell and low temperature processed to preserve heat sensitive compounds.
Organic Pine Pollen Tincture
HerbEra offers a super concentrated cracked cell wall, organic Pine Pollen liquid extract for convenient, easy absorption. Packaged in special dark glass jars, HerbEra uses organic vegetable glycerin to concentrate the nutrients of Pine Pollen.
About the Author
Justin Faerman has been studying and writing about holistic health practices, herbalism and natural medicine for over 14 years and is a leading authority on both modern and ancient therapies for creating lasting health and wellness. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and has conducted field research into organic and regenerative agriculture practices and eco-social sustainability during his time there. He is also the Founder of Lotus Superfoods, a boutique purveyor of rare herbs and superfoods as well as the Co-founder of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine and the Flow Consciousness Institute. Learn more about his work at flowconsciousnessinstitute.com and lotussuperfoods.com