Pollen Extract

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Pollen extract

Common Names

  • Swedish pollen extract
  • Swedish flower pollen
  • Flower pollen extract
  • Purified pollen extract

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

How It Works

Pollen extract may be helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms, but studies in cancer patients are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness.

Pollen extract is an ingredient in a standard Swedish formula made from the pollen and pistils of grasses that are members of the Poaceae family. A few studies suggest that pollen extract may be helpful in relieving both premenstrual and menopausal symptoms. Although the mechanism by which this may occur is not well understood, pollen extract appears not to have hormonal effects. Therefore, it may be useful for breast cancer patients experiencing hot flashes. However, studies in cancer populations are needed to ensure safety, effectiveness, and to confirm that it does not negatively interact with chemotherapy drugs.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • To relieve symptoms of menopause
    Some studies suggest that pollen extract may reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and improve quality of life in menopausal women, but studies that confirm safety and effectiveness in cancer patients are needed.
  • To relieve premenstrual symptoms
    Some studies suggest that pollen extract may reduce premenstrual sleep disturbances.
Side Effects

Among the few studies conducted, there were no side effects that appeared to be related to pollen extract.

Special Point

Pollen extract should not be confused with propolis, which is pollen harvested by bees from many different plant families, and may also include other substances such as beeswax.

For Healthcare Professionals

Brand Name
Relizen®, Femal®
Clinical Summary

Pollen extract is an ingredient in a standardized Swedish natural product that contains both pollen and pistils derived from members of the Poaceae family of grasses. It has been used as an herbal remedy to relieve premenstrual, perimenopausal, and menopausal symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes, irritability, and sleeplessness. Although the exact mechanism of action remains unclear, preclinical studies did not find estrogenic activity (1), suggesting it does not work by modulating hormones. This is of particular interest among patients with hormone-sensitive cancers who have limited options and may have safety concerns with more conventional methods to address such symptoms.

Initial open-label studies suggested that a standardized pollen extract was useful in alleviating premenstrual, perimenopausal, and menopausal symptoms (2) (3), although one of these studies combined the extract with royal jelly (3). In a follow-up randomized controlled trial, pollen extract reduced hot flashes and improve quality of life in menopausal women (4). A double-blind RCT found a reduction in premenstrual sleep disturbances, which was more pronounced in women who identified irritability as their main symptom (5).

No studies have been conducted in cancer populations. Therefore, additional clinical trials are needed to confirm safety and efficacy of pollen extract, including for use among cancer patients.

Pollen extract should not be confused with propolis, which is pollen harvested by bees from many different plant families, and may also include other substances such as beeswax.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Premenstrual symptoms
  • Menopausal symptoms
Mechanism of Action

There are two active ingredients in the formulation studied: a combined pollen and pistil extract (PI 82, 75%), which contains high levels of superoxide dismutase, and a pure pollen extract (GC FEM, 25%) (4). PI 82 pollen extracts are derived from Secale cereale (rye grass), Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass), and Pinus silvestris (Scots pine) while the pollen-pistil extract is derived from Zea mays. GC FEM pollen extract is derived from S. cereale, Z. mays, and P. silvestris  (1). The preparation is standardized to contain 14 mg of amino acids per tablet (4).

Laboratory studies determined that the pollen extract preparation used in studies contained low concentrations of the phytoestrogens daidzin, daidzein, and genistin, that were considered to be subeffective. These studies also did not detect genistein, formononetin, or biochanin A (1). In vitro, purified Swedish pollen extract did not show inhibition of CYP2D6 enzymes (6). Animal studies suggest that high doses of pollen extract do not cause uterine growth in immature female rats, suggesting no estrogenic effects (1).

The exact mechanism for reduction of menopausal symptoms remains unclear but one study suggests that the antioxidant properties of the ingredients may play a role (4).

Adverse Reactions

Among the few studies conducted, no related adverse events were reported (4) (5).

Herb-Drug Interactions

In an in vitro study, purified Swedish pollen extract did not inhibit the CYP2D6 enzyme (6).

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Hellstrom AC, Muntzing J. The pollen extract Femal—a nonestrogenic alternative to hormone therapy in women with menopausal symptoms. Menopause. Jul 2012;19(7):825-829.
  2. Kimura H, Gruber P. Perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings are reduced by a standardised pollen pistil extract. Climacteric. 2002;5(Suppl 1):85(abstr).
  3. Winther K, Hedman C. A preparation containing pollen and pistil extracts combined with Royal Jelly reduces PMS and menopausal symptoms. Climacteric. 2002;5(Suppl 1):86(abstr).
  4. Winther K, Rein E, Hedman C. Femal, a herbal remedy made from pollen extracts, reduces hot flushes and improves quality of life in menopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel study. Climacteric. Jun 2005;8(2):162-170.
  5. Gerhardsen G, Hansen AV, Killi M, et al. The efficacy of Femal in women with premenstrual syndrome: a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Adv Ther. Jun 2008;25(6):595-607.
  6. Goldstein SR, Espie M, Druckmann R. Does purified Swedish pollen extract, a nonhormonal treatment for vasomotor symptoms, inhibit the CYP2D6 enzyme system? Menopause. Nov 2015;22(11):1212-1214.
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