June 6, 2012

Warn Customers That Bee Pollen Could Be Cause of
Unexplained Anaphylactic Reaction

VancouverBee pollen is available at many health food stores and even in some pharmacies in capsule form or as an ingredient in other natural dietary supplements. It also may be found in skin products for diaper rash and eczema. Although considered by many customers to be helpful and safe, it actually can cause severe anaphylactic reactions in some users, according to an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The article describes the case of a 30-year-old woman with seasonal allergies but no history of allergies to food, drugs, insects, or latex. She presented with swelling of the eyelids, lips and throat, difficulty swallowing, hives, and other life-threatening symptoms and required emergency treatment. No further reactions occurred after she discontinued taking bee pollen supplements.

"Anaphylaxis associated with the consumption of bee pollen has been reported in the literature, but many people remain unaware of this potential hazard," the authors write.

They note that anaphylactic reactions after ingesting bee pollen have been reported in people with no history of allergies or only seasonal allergies. The article cites a Greek study in which atopic participants underwent skin tests for reactions to bee pollen and 73% of 145 patients had positive skin test reactions to one or more types of bee pollen extracts.

"Health care providers should be aware of the potential for reaction, and patients with pollen allergy should be advised of the potential risk when consuming these products—it is not known who will have an allergic reaction upon ingesting bee pollen," they conclude.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect