Summary of Pine Pollen
Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts
Pine pollen is a term used to refer to supplements derived from the pollen of pine trees. Pine trees in general refer to the genera of pinus, and the pollen that is commonly used as a dietary supplement is the Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) due to some studies having detected a testosterone content in this pollen.
In regards to the above, the testosterone content of Scots pine pollen appears to be too low to cause appreciable effects in the human body due to testosterone ingestion despite it being a higher concentration than the testosterone found in Royal Jelly. No studies have been conducted in humans on any parameter related to testosterone such as aphrodisia, muscle growth, or general male vitality.
Pine pollen appears to have a traditional usage in Chinese medicine as well, although the species used have been those available in the region and these are not the Scots pine. These studies are preliminary but suggest a possible antiinflammatory effect that could benefit arthritis, but due to a lack of compositional studies on the pine pollen (ie. what is actually in the pollen that could be mediating the antiinflammatory effects) it is not known if these properties extend to Scots Pine.
Overall, this supplement is heavily underresearched and at this moment in time it cannot be recommended for any particular usage in humans until more studies are conducted.
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Pine Pollen tends to refer to the pollen derived from Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) which is an invasive pine species in many North American that has traditionally been used as both a species of Christmas Tree (with Fraser and Douglas Fir trees being more commonly used now) and as an industrial wood source, although other wood source are more commonly used.
At times other species of pine are investigated for their pollen, including pinus densiflora, pinus massoniana, pinus yunnanensis, and pinus tabulaeformis.
Pine pollen refers to pollen derived from pine trees (the genera known as pinus) but does not appear to refer to any particular species within this genera, although the Scots pine may be the most commonly used source (in part due to its availability on the market)
Pine pollen appears to have usage as a traditional chinese medicine but the species used are pinus massoniana and pinus tabulaeformis, not the Scots pine from where testosterone has been isolated from.
There may be traditional usage of pine pollen as medicine, but this refers to two less commonly seen species of pine and not Scots pine
Pine pollen (pinus sylvestris unless otherwise specified) tends to contain:
Vitamin D as Vitamin D3 at 200ng/g (8 IU per gram) while the active hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is at 10-300ng
Testosterone (80ng/g), epitestosterone (110ng/g), and androstenedione (590ng/g); the testosterone being slightly higher than Royal Jelly (12-36ng/g) but similarly too low for appreciable anabolic effects, and the steroids are likely in glucuronidated forms
Pollen from Scots pine appears to contain steroid molecules (vitamin D and testosterone) are doses which are likely too low to have appreciable effects in humans following oral consumption
One study in isolated human diploid fibroblastic cells (model of cellular senescence) incubated with 1-2mg/mL pine pollen (species not specified) appeared to increase population doublings per week (23-27%) and maximal population doublings (12-15%) with no apparent concentration dependence. The increased senescence seen with D-galactosane in vitro was attenuated with pine pollen associated with reduced PTEN and p27Kip1 expression.
In rats injected with D-galactose (rodent model for premature aging thought to be related to AGE formation) oral ingestion of 500-1,500mg/kg of pine pollen extract is able to hinder AGE formation and symptoms of aging with the higher dose being comparable in potency to 100mg/kg aminoguanidine.
Preliminary evidence suggest an anti-aging role of pine pollen in regards to D-galactosamine injections in mice and in isolated cells, although the oral dose used in the mouse study was significantly higher than what is seen with supplements currently sold
An ethanolic extract of pine bark from densiflora (8% yield) at 100-200mg/kg orally to mice appears to have acute analgesic properties in acetic-acid writhing and formalin injection tests in mice with a potency comparable to 50mg/kg aminopyrine (reference drug), and this was associated with antiinflammatory effects (carrageenan and formalin induced paw edema) nonsignificantly greater than 10mg/kg ibuprofen.
Preliminary evidence suggests moderately high doses of pine pollen (ethanolic extracts) may have analgesic properties with a potency comparable to reference drugs; the species investigated is not the one where testosterone was isolated from
4Inflammation and Immunology
An extract of pine pollen (pinus densiflora; 70% ethanolic extract reaching 8% yield) is known to have antioxidative properties at concentrations above 500µg/mL in vitro (lipid peroxidation and protein carbonylation), while at 50-100µg/mL in macrophages there appears to be nonsignificant concentration-dependent reductions in nitric oxide production from LPS stimulation. Macrophage secretion of TNF-α was hindered in parallel with nitric oxide, and while IL-6 was mostly unaffected IL-1 secretion was reduced to less than unstimulated control.
When looking at mechanisms, incubation of this pinus densiflora extract (10µg/mL) was associated with complete prevention of JNK phosphorylation although the other MAPKs (p38 and ERK) were not affected.
Limited evidence suggests an antiinflammatory effect, with particular efficacy towards IL-1 secretion and JNK inhibition (may underlie the anti-rheumatic properties that are also seen in preliminary evidence). This occurs that concentrations that, while not confirmed to be effective following oral ingestion, may plausibly occur
An ethanolic extract of pine pollen from densiflora (8% yield) at 100-200mg/kg orally to mice appears to be able to reduce arachidonic acid induced ear edema with a potency similar to 10mg/kg indomethacin, but with a more rapid onset at 1 hour (comparable at 3 hours). This same extract over the course of three weeks in mice injected with Freund's Complete Adjuvant (FCA; can induce rheumatism) was able to partially attenuate edema with no dose-dependence and normalized spleen weight (increased in FCA control) and cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) while later in collagen induced arthritis (DBA/1J mice) when the extract was fed for 49 days normalized swelling and clinical scores of arthritis.
It should be noted that at least one study noted that while TNF-α and IL-1β were fully normalized with the extract, IL-6 was reduced to levels below even the control without FCA which was replicated in collagen induced arthritis, and while rheumatoid factor was slightly attenuated the increase in a collagen-specific antibody was almost fully prevented relative to collagen control.
Although higher than normal doses have been used, it appears that ethanolic extracts of pine pollen have respectable antiinflammatory properties in rodent models of inflammation and arthritis. This may be related to possible immunosuppressive properties (assessed by a significant reduction in antibody production)
Although significantly less than other trees such as birch, pine trees are known to possess antigens which may trigger allergies, with the nuts as well as the pollen. Pine (the pinus genera) tends to have cross-reactivity in between species of this genera and belongs to the order of coniferales alongside cypress and cedar trees (both in the cupressaceae genera), but cross reactivity between pinus and cupressaceae (despite both being in the coniferales family) does not seem to be a huge concern.
It is possible (also less frequent among tree allergies) to be allergic to pine trees, and when one is allergic to pine trees it seems that they may be allergic to all species of pine trees and supplementation may trigger an allergic reaction; persons allergic to related trees (cypress and cedar) may not necessarily be sensitive to pine