Bee pollen is sold as a health supplement made up of granules of pollen from various blooming plants and honey produced by the honey bees. Allergic reactions to pollen have rarely been reported in the medical literature. This study is about a severe allergic reaction to bee pollen containing pollen from chrysanthemum, dandelion, and ragweed flowers.
A 40 year-old man came to an emergency room with generalized swelling especially of the face and shortness of breath 1 hour after taking 1 tablespoon of bee pollen bought in a local market. He had symptoms of nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea, but recovered after emergency treatment. Microscopic examination of the pollen showed Japanese hop, chryanthemum, dandelion, and ragweed. The patient’s blood showed that chrysanthemum and dandelion were the major causes of his allergic reaction.
Bee pollen may contain pollen from both wind-pollinated* and insect-pollinated plants. In addition, pollen can contain fungi, which can be a cause of severe allergic reactions.
CONCLUSION: Healthcare providers should be aware that bee pollen may be the cause of severe allergic reactions, especially in people who are sensitive to weed pollens.
NOTE: *There is some disagreement about the pollination of dandelions. Beekeepers say that dandelions are bee pollinated, and the part that is dispersed by the wind is the seed. Chrysanthemums are naturally insect-pollinated, and by human hand to develop new varieties. Chrysanthemums can attract insects to the garden and may repel some insects which are harmful to other plants. A natural insecticide (pyrethrum) is contained in the seed case.
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