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Potential Benefits and Uses of Pine Pollen in Chinese Medicine

The Potential Effects and Use of Chinese Herbal Medicine Pine Pollen (Pinus pollen): A Bibliometric Analysis of Pharmacological and Clinical Studies

Authors: Shi-Bing Liang, Ning Liang, Fan-Long Bu, Bao-Yong Lai, Ya-Peng Zhang, Hui-Juan Cao, Yu-Tong Fei, Nicola Robinson, Jian-Ping Liu

Pine pollen (Pinus pollen), also known as “Songhuafen” or “Songhuang,” has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is renowned for its rich nutrient profile, containing amino acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and flavonoids. Historical texts, such as the Tang Dynasty’s Xin Xiu Ben Cao and the Compendium of Materia Medica by Shizhen Li, highlight its diverse health benefits, including enhancing urination, promoting blood circulation, and prolonging life span. Modern pharmacological studies suggest pine pollen has multiple therapeutic effects, such as immune regulation, liver protection, and antioxidation.

Objective

The objective of this study is to conduct a comprehensive literature search and bibliometric analysis to identify the breadth and volume of pharmacological and clinical studies on pine pollen. This includes exploring its potential effects and uses, particularly in pharmacological and clinical contexts.

Methodology

The study used a bibliometric approach, systematically searching three Chinese electronic databases and two English electronic databases for pharmacological and clinical studies on pine pollen. The inclusion criteria were studies focused on the function or effect of pine pollen, published in Chinese or English. Data were extracted and analyzed based on publication information, research topics, clinical conditions treated, usage and preparation methods, and reported adverse effects.

Results

  • Publication Trends: The number of publications on pine pollen has significantly increased since 2004, with a notable rise in pharmacological and clinical studies.
  • Pharmacological Studies: Among the 180 pharmacological studies reviewed, the most frequent topics were immune regulation, anti-aging, antioxidation, liver protection, inhibiting tumor cell proliferation, and inhibiting prostate hyperplasia.
  • Clinical Studies: The 37 clinical studies analyzed included 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 14 case series, six controlled clinical trials (CCTs), and two case reports. The most frequent clinical conditions treated with pine pollen were bedsores, diaper dermatitis, hyperlipidemia, oral mucositis, eczema, hyperplasia of the prostate, hypertension, prostatitis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and radiodermatitis.

Key Findings

  • Immune Regulation and Anti-Aging: Pine pollen showed significant potential in immune regulation and anti-aging, making up 20.00% and 13.89% of pharmacological studies, respectively.
  • Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Pine pollen’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties were highlighted in several studies, supporting its use in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Liver Protection and Anti-Tumor Effects: Studies also indicated that pine pollen has protective effects on the liver and can inhibit tumor cell proliferation, suggesting potential applications in liver health and cancer prevention.
  • Clinical Benefits: Clinical studies showed positive effects of pine pollen in treating various conditions, particularly skin diseases such as bedsores and diaper dermatitis. Pine pollen was often used topically for these conditions, demonstrating its potential as a skin treatment.

Research Significance

This study provides valuable insights into the pharmacological and clinical applications of pine pollen, highlighting its multifaceted therapeutic potential. The increasing number of publications underscores the growing interest in pine pollen research. The findings suggest that pine pollen could be a valuable natural therapy for a range of conditions, particularly those related to skin health, immune regulation, and anti-aging.

Conclusion

Pine pollen has shown significant potential in various pharmacological and clinical contexts. Its diverse therapeutic effects, including immune regulation, antioxidation, liver protection, and anti-inflammatory properties, make it a promising natural remedy. Clinical studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating conditions like bedsores, diaper dermatitis, and hyperlipidemia, with minimal adverse effects reported. Future research should focus on high-quality clinical trials to further validate these findings and explore the mechanisms through which pine pollen exerts its beneficial effects.

Citation

Liang, S.-B., Liang, N., Bu, F.-L., Lai, B.-Y., Zhang, Y.-P., Cao, H.-J., Fei, Y.-T., Robinson, N., & Liu, J.-P. (2020). The potential effects and use of Chinese herbal medicine pine pollen (Pinus pollen): A bibliometric analysis of pharmacological and clinical studies. World Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 6(2), 163–170. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34327226/.