Research

Bee pollen can treat autism, says research

Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition. It is characterized by impaired communicational skills resulting in poor social interaction and rigid behavior. Autism doesn’t necessarily come by birth. A child is equally susceptible to develop autism after he/she is born. Neurotoxins or the harmful substances, a child may encounter throughout the life, augment the risk of developing the disease.

Scientists are trying to explore natural products that could potentially prevent neurotoxicity among children. A study conducted at the King Saud University revealed bee pollen to be effective against autism. The researchers were able to show that bee pollen can potentially ameliorate the effects of neurotoxins.

Harmful chemicals in the environment, most of the time, effect infants. Since they are going through their developmental stages, these chemicals hinder their corporal developmental processes which is worrisome since later stages are dependent on successful accomplishment of early stages. Note that different developmental processes and various regions of the brain react differently to a chemical exposure. Thus the duration of exposure to a chemical, affects what kinds of effects the chemical has.

Developmental processes especially involving the brain, when obstructed lead to autism. Autistic people have trouble communicating and socializing with other people. Moreover, autism is a spectrum disorder. The affected individuals exhibit different combinations of symptoms ranging from severe to mild.

A study found Propionic acid to be associated with autism, causing behavioral, neuropathological, and biochemical abnormalities. Apart from propionic acid, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, hormone disruptors, and flame retardants are potential causative chemicals for autism.

Bee pollen is loaded with bioactive substances. It comes from pollen that has been transported and stored by the bees in their hive as food. Over 250 active substances, including flavonoids, enzymes, and antioxidants are found in bee pollen, which can be attributed for its,

  • Antimicrobial effect
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Immuno-stimulating nature
  • Detoxification activities

This respective study was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The researchers pondered at the capacity of bee pollen to improve acute and sub-acute neurotoxicity. Male western albino rats, with propionic-acid induced neurotoxicity, were employed for the experiments. The researchers evaluated the following parameters in order to examine the extent of neurotoxicity,

  • Neurotransmitter
  • Interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)
  • Caspase-3 levels

Rats administered with propionic acid showed decreased levels in neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. These neurotransmitters manage brain functions like cognition, attention, sensory perception, and movement. The researchers also reported an increase in IFN-gamma and caspase-3 levels. IFN-gamma is a marker for inflammation while caspase-3 marks apoptosis. Together these signify damages in the blood-brain barrier.

It was observed that rats treated with bee pollen could resist the harmful effects of propionic acid. The increase in the levels neurotransmitter may be due to the presence of their precursors, like tyrosine and tryptophan in bee pollen. Moreover, the antioxidant effects of flavonoid and anti-inflammatory activities of bee pollen led to reduced levels of caspase-3 and IFN-gamma levels, respectively.

These results of the experiments proved bee pollen effective against neurotoxicity. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, bee pollen can alleviate the symptoms of autism. In addition, the amino acid content of bee pollen supplements the production of neurotransmitters as well. From these observations, it can be said that bee pollen can treat autism, protecting the brain against neurotoxicity and related diseases.

Sources

https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1099-8#Sec9

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