Understanding Pine Pollen as a Pro-Androgenic and as an Adaptogen
Table of Contents (Click Links to Skip Ahead):
- A Brief Overview
- Negative Feedback: How the Body Controls the Production of (many) Hormones
- Using RAW Pine Pollen as the Foundation for Balancing Testosterone and Estrogen
- Lessons Learned: It’s Not Just The Phyto-Androgens
- Increasing Testosterone on Four Levels
- The Adaptogenic Sterols in Pine Pollen
- Choosing Between RAW Pine Pollen, Powdered Extracted, and Tinctures
A Brief Overview
Pine Pollen has historically been used as an anti-aging tonic, and much of the scientific research done into Pine Pollen supports this use (see our translation of several research papers here).
In the West, the vast majority of attention focuses on the androgenic properties of the herb, that is, the phyto-androgen hormones naturally present in it, including an analogue of testosterone that works to raise levels of this key hormone in the body. It is the testosterone like qualities of Pine Pollen that Stephen Buhner first wrote about and popularized in his book "The Natural Testosterone Plan."
Chemical analysis shows of Pine Pollen shows that it contains phyto-chemicals that mimic human androgenic (male sex) hormones, including:
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone);
Furthermore, Pine Pollen contains several possible adaptogenic phytosterols, including gibberellins and brassinosteroids. It is the combination of the androgenic and adaptogenic compounds, together with all the biologically active compounds present within it, which we believe to account for the overall strong benefits this herb provides.*
Pine Pollen Tincture and Testosterone
For those targeting the potential androgenic (testosterone like) effects of Pine Pollen, using a liquid, alcohol extract is the preferred method to use it.* When using a tincture, the active ingredients in a plant have been dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and water, ensuring quick and easy absorption into the body.* This is because as an alcohol based extract, tinctures are able to absorb directly into the blood stream when ingested and they do not need to go through the normal route of digestion.* Our clinical grade Mountain Harvest Pine Pollen Tincture is available in both 2 and 4 ounce bottles.
Negative Feedback: How the Body Controls the Production of Most Hormones
Most hormones in the body are controlled through a negative feedback mechanism, where increased levels of a hormone are sensed by receptors, and messages are sent to reduce the production of that hormone. In this way, when levels drop, the message is sent to increase production of the respective hormone. Most hormones in the body work though negative feedback, and only a few work through positive feedback. An example of positive feedback is child birth, where the presence of the hormone oxytocin causes a further production of that hormone.
The negative feedback response of hormone production causes alarm when discussing hormone replacement therapy, and for good reason: bio-identical hormone replacement can cause the atrophy of hormone producing glands in some people. An often-told example of this is testicular atrophy in adolescent and teenage males, caused by steroid use. In this case, bio-identical testosterone causes the negative feedback mechanism to arrest testosterone production in the testes, causing possible atrophy in the glands. Because the body is thrifty, sensing adequate levels of a hormone, it knows not to produce extra.
In the case of phyto-hormones, like phyto-androgens (eg. pine pollen) or phyto-estrogens (eg. soy), the plant hormone is not identical to the animal hormone--is it not bio-identical. The effects of the hormone are very similar, but they are not sensed by the receptors linked to the negative feedback system, and do not trigger the cessation of hormone production.
For people interested in pine pollen for its phyto-androgen properties, this means that pine pollen appears to not trigger the body to stop producing testosterone.*
For the endocrine system, pine pollen is used to bring hormone levels back into correct balance when they are otherwise out of balance. In this way, pine pollen seeks to restore healthy ratios of testosterone to estrogen in the body, when those ratios are otherwise influenced, through diet and environment, illness and disease, or age (Andropause).
Using RAW Pine Pollen as the Foundation for Balancing Testosterone and Estrogen
Much has changed since we first started experimenting, and then offering, Pine Pollen back in the spring of 2010. At that time I was using a combination of RAW Pine Pollen and Pine Pollen Tincture to regain strength after nine months of heavy antibiotic and anti-protozoa treatment for Lyme Disease. The combination of the infection and the treatment left me completely worn out and feeling worse than before the treatment or even the original tick bite. (even though I was now "healed").
When I first started with Pine Pollen, it was mainly on the advice of Stephen Buhner. Buhner told me that Pine Pollen was important in his own recovery and healing from a serious disease and that it should help with mine. I took his advice and integrated the duo of Pine Pollen and Pine Pollen Tincture into my healing routine and the effects were profound and dramatic--so much so that I was moved to start RAW Forest Foods.
At this point in time, the focus was mainly on the phyto-androgens present in Pine Pollen, and how this provides a very unique position for regaining strength. Today, I am 100 percent convinced that using RAW Pine Pollen is the ideal foundation for balancing testosterone and estrogen; that is, for increasing diminished testosterone (and other androgen hormones) while offsetting high estrogen levels. However, I now believe this for slightly different reasons.
Lessons Learned: It’s Not Just The Phyto-Androgens
It is true that Pine Pollen contains phyto-androgens, and it is true that they are in levels high enough to potentially produce physiological changes in the body.* But based upon the information we have seen, Pine Pollen has shown the ability to elevate testosterone levels beyond what could be accounted for by merely supplementing with the present phyto-androgens in Pine Pollen--the blood test values have been too high. We think it is a combination of the nutrients, adaptogens, and other compounds in Pine Pollen, not just the phyto-androgens, which help produce such a positive, tonic effect.*
Increasing Testosterone on Four Levels
Like I said above, a lot has changed since we (RAW Forest Foods) first started working with Pine Pollen. At present it appears that Pine Pollen, especially RAW Pine Pollen (as powder, capsules, or tablets), may be able to increase testosterone on four levels:
- The available phyto-androgens, including androstenedione, androsterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and testosterone;
- Resetting the hypothalamus and/or resetting the anterior pituitary gland;
- Unique phyto-sterols offering adaptogenic qualities;
- Deep Healing Provided Through Superior Nutrition.*
The Available Phyto-Androgens
The fact that Pine Pollen contains phyto-androgens has been covered in this site, and looking at the product pages for any of our pollen products details this point. In short, Pine Pollen contains phyto (plant versions) of the androgen (male sex) hormones, including androstenedione, androsterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and testosterone.
These hormones are almost bio-identical to human androgen hormones and are able to supplement the body's own production of androgen hormones.* This provides important healing, as androgens are very reparative to the body. These phyto-androgens offer the healing of increased testosterone.*
Resetting The Hypothalamus And/Or Resetting The Anterior Pituitary Gland
In the clinical setting, endocrinologists often put patients on a short course of a hormone to see if the short course causes the body to start producing the hormone on its own (possibly activating the negative feedback mechanism).
This is very common in treating low thyroid hormone (which is the most treated condition due to low or no hormone production). For reasons that are unknown, many times the body, sensing the presence of the supplemental thyroid hormone, will start producing it on its own. As if the supplemental hormone is a wake up call.
This is so common that routine treatment for thyroid hormone includes an adjustment period and retesting to see if the thyroid started producing the hormone on its own.
In treating low testosterone, some clinicians have begun to follow a similar approach: treating with supplemental testosterone (like Andro Gel), and then stopping the application of it to see if the body began producing it on its own. Many times the short course was all that was needed.
In seeing how dramatic the increase in testosterone can be with supplementing with Pine Pollen (powder and/or tincture), it is theorized by us that the pollen is able to wake up the endocrine system, producing an increase in testosterone production.* However, this is purely by observation and it should not be construed as medical advice nor as a treatment plan for any medical condition.
A change of this type could happen at the hypothalamus or at the anterior pituitary gland, the two glands responsible for signaling testosterone production. It could also be that Pine Pollen is able to resensitize the Leydig cells of the testes, where testosterone is actually produced.*
Unique Phyto-Sterols Offering Adaptogenic Qualities
In addition to the phyto-androgens androstenedione, androsterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and testosterone, Pine Pollen also contains very unique plant sterols called gibberellins and brassinosteroids. These sterols (steroids) have an adaptogenic quality: they may increase the ability to mitigate stress.* Adaptogens increase the stress threshold in the body, so what was previously stress is no longer stress.
Adaptogens are important in healing, since while the body is under stress healing is next to impossible.
While gibberellins and brassinosteroids are not androgen hormones, they are adaptogens and many adaptogens are gonadotropic, increasing testosterone production. In this way, they are able to increase health by reducing stress, which would restore health and thus allow for increased testosterone production, and they may additionally be gonadotropic, increasing testosterone production in the testes.*
Deep Healing Provided Through Superior Nutrition
This is what we called “regenerative wellness.” Pine Pollen contains many essential nutrients for the body, including all of the essential amino acids in their raw, un-denatured state. Pine Pollen also contains some unique anti-aging amino acids that many people are deficient in. It also has many vitamins and minerals (which are increasingly rare in food), and other important compounds like SOD, MSM, and ALA, all important for building health, strength, and overall vitality in the body.*
For many people, the deep nutrition found in Pine Pollen may be the missing element in their issues of low testosterone. I say this because a body that is not receiving proper nutrition will falter, and the endocrine system and the male sex hormones have their own nutritional needs--which Pine Pollen satisfies but foods are increasingly low in due to modern agriculture. By meeting these nutritional needs, Pine Pollen may be able to let the body restart production of healthy levels of testosterone.*
Through observation, the ability for Pine Pollen to increase testosterone outpaces the testosterone (and other phyto-androgens) found in it.* This leads us to believe that Pine Pollen is working on several levels and through several mechanisms to supplement and increase testosterone production in the body.* Furthermore, it leads us to believe that RAW Pine Pollen (because the nutrients are in their raw state) is the idea foundation for restoring healthy levels of testosterone and mitigating the effects of high estrogen levels.*
We have published an extensive document on the nutritional aspect of Pine Pollen, including original English translations of several research papers. You can find that document here.
Choosing Between RAW Pine Pollen, Powdered Extracted, and Tinctures
Many customers write into us and are interested in what form of Pine Pollen is the best for increasing testosterone. Before we can answer this, it is important to point out Pine Pollen contains plant sterols that are molecularly similar to the androgen hormones (such as testosterone) present in the human body. Subsequently, the primary effect that Pine Pollen has on the androgen hormones is one of supplementation. In our many years of doing this, we have heard back from many customers that have had their testosterone checked before and after use and have showed an impressive increase in testosterone levels.
Based on our research and experience, when targeting the androgen hormones in Pine Pollen, the best method for accessing those hormones is with tincture. Our Pine Pollen Tincture (which you can find here) is a very strong extraction (the strongest that we know of) of the phyto-androgens found in Pine Pollen.* Additionally, because tinctures are alcohol based, the androgens in the tincture do not go through the digestive tract as other Pine Pollen does, because the alcohol is absorbed through the cells lining the mouth, esophagus, and the stomach.*
This direct absorption offers the benefit of a very quick effect and it also means that the hormones are not damaged by the enzymes present in the digestive tract.
All in all, Pine Pollen Tincture is the product with isolated and highly bio-available phyto-androgens, including testosterone.*
With all of that said, and as is explored above, based on our extensive history with Pine Pollen, we have begun to suspect that Pine Pollen has an overall adaptogenic, balancing effect on the endocrine system, not just a supplementing effect. The difference is that with a balancing effect, the Pine Pollen may actually be signaling an increase in testosterone production, most likely by increasing the amount of luteinizing hormone by the anterior pituitary gland.*
Our preferred method for using Pine Pollen is to set the foundation with either the raw pollen or the powdered extract and then supplementing with the tincture for specific targeting of the phyto-androgens.*
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please view our full Terms and Conditions.