Maria Graça R. Campos, Christian Frigerio, Joana Lopesand Stefan Bogdanov
In the last two decades many papers have been published on issues concerning bee pollen. Some have related to nutritional and therapeutic claims supported by scientific based evidence and many have dealt with quality control questions and validation of the methodologies that allow bee pollen producers to have sufficient knowledge to provide the market with high quality products. The quality of the product starts to be influenced by the bees at pollen collection, and includes harvest by beekeepers and technologies used during storage. This review summarises information available at each of these stages. In the near future research needs to develop legislation in order to have Harmonised Standard Quality Control. It is clear that there is quite a long road until bee pollen will be able to take a place in modern phytomedicine. The main difficulty for the use of bee pollen in therapy lies in the wide variation of its composition, and thus of its biological activity, depending on its botanical origin. In the first place beekeepers should offer a good selection of different specific bee pollen. Indeed, the harvest of monofloral pollen is possible, but for the time being it is a relatively rare specialty. Another possibility of having more standardized bee pollen is to mix different pollen types to obtain a constant composition, and thus also consistent biological activity. For this purpose biological parameters like antioxidant activity and vitamin content should be included in a future bee pollen standard. Monofloral or standardized bee pollen should be tested in future biological and clinical studies. The biological and pharmacological properties of the monofloral pollen types should be determined and the biologically active substances identified. Then pollen types with optimal pharmacological properties can be evaluated for human therapy.