In an effort to enhance their immune system and fight against viruses, many people consume vitamins and supplements. These days, there’s always a new superfood, supplement, or even diet and exercises routine that promises to change your life for the better – one of the most popular supplements is royal jelly.
What is Royal Jelly?
This honey bee product is a nutritious milky white substance that is secreted by worker bees. It is fed to queen bee larvae and also the queen bee throughout its life. It is also fed to honeybee larvae that have just hatched in their first two to three days.
According to the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, royal jelly consists of water (50%-60%), proteins (18%), carbohydrates (15%), lipids (3%–6%), mineral salts (1.5%), and vitamins. The most important protein found is royalactin. It is the main compound that enables a queen bee larva to mature into an adult queen bee. This is also the reason for the queen bee’s long life span compared to other bees.
From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), royal jelly is classified as a tonic. “TCM considers it as neutral in nature because it is neither cold nor warm, with a sweet and sour flavour. It influences the spleen and liver meridians,” explains Real Health Medical Chief TCM Physician Chu I Ta. “Royal jelly helps to nourish the body yin fluid, strengthens body functions and immunity. It works by nourishing and regulating the liver’s blood and invigorating the spleen qi function (the absorption and digestion).”
What are Royal Jelly Benefits for Your Health?
Royal jelly is a highly nutritious superfood and is believed to have antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory – modulates the immune system – effects. TCM has long used bee milk as a supplement to treat a variety of ailments.
Some of the health benefits include:
- Strengthens the immune system
- Promotes the regeneration and repair of the visceral organs
- Promotes growth and development of the body tissues and organs
- Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
- Regulates metabolism
- Lowers blood sugar
- Improves appetite and bowel motion
Convinced yet? We’ve summarised more benefits of these bee-derived proteins as a form of alternative medicine.
Reduces symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
Menstruation can come with significant symptoms, ranging from physical to behavioural to psychological.
In a Complementary Therapies in Medicine study, researchers gave 110 medical sciences students with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in the Tehran University of Medical Sciences either 1,000 mg royal jelly or a placebo. The treatment started on the first day of a cycle and continued through two cycles.
After two cycles, the women reported that the product significantly reduce their PMS symptoms.
Improves symptoms of menopause
Menopause occurs when a woman’s period stops. It causes a reduction in estrogen and progesterone hormones production.
According to the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, daily oral consumption of royal jelly (1000 mg) for eight weeks in 200 postmenopausal women aged between 45 and 60 years old had effectively alleviated their menopausal symptoms. However, further research is necessary to confirm the effects.
Improves fertility in men
Animal research finds that the honey product can help to improve fertility in men.
The World Rabbit Science on male rabbits concluded that Chinese royal jelly supplementation for heat-stressed male rabbits could counteract summer infertility and improve their physiological status.
Supports healthy brain function
A study by Advanced Biomedical Research in 2012 examined the effects of royal jelly on spatial learning and memory in rats. The study discovered its potential role in protecting nerve cells against damage and degeneration of function, as well as also finding helpful effects related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Another study conducted in 2020 by the Heliyon on sporadic AD finds that it promotes beneficial effects on cognitive functions and exhibits a neuroprotective action, protecting nerve cells against damage and degeneration.
Aides in wound healing
In a Nutrition Research and Practice study, researchers created a wound by scratching normal human dermal fibroblasts, the most common type of cell found in connective tissue. Fibroblasts have an important role in wound healing. Once the wound is inflicted, the migration of fibroblasts starts towards the wounded area. They revealed that royal jelly significantly accelerated the migration of fibroblasts.
Moreover, Scientific Reports demonstrates that defensin-1, a bee-derived antibacterial peptide found in honey and royal jelly, contributes to wound closure, re-epithelialisation and healing. It found antibacterial peptides in animals and plants and used for defence purposes.
Provides anti-ageing effects
A study by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences notes that royal jelly, its protein, and lipid ingredients can extend the life span in various creatures. It can also prevent senescence, the process of deterioration with age, of human tissues in cell cultures.
They are hopeful that specific royal jelly anti-ageing drugs can be formulated in the future. However, researchers need to do a lot of work to understand the effects of it concerning gender, diet, activity level, and other factors that affect health and longevity.
Support a healthy immune system
Bee products may help enhance immunity in animal studies.
A 2016 research by the Veterinary Research Forum observes that there are positive effects on immunity on propolis, royal jelly, honey and bee pollen on growth performance and immune system of Japanese quails. This may be due to the nature of the bee products, which are active against microbes and stimulate immunity function.
The same study also observed that in chickens, there was a significant increase in antibody production among birds fed with it.
Best Ways to Consume Royal Jelly
Royal jelly is available in both raw and processed forms. You can consume it or apply it directly to your skin.
Fresh royal jelly is a gel-like substance, but processed forms are freeze-dried. It may also come in powder form or packed into pills or capsules, which may contain filler ingredients.
Whether you want to consume fresh Royal Jelly or its processed forms, it’s best to start with a small amount first and monitor the effects on your health.
Risks and Side Effects
Like all bee products, allergic reactions are the most common side effects. Consuming royal jelly has been reported to trigger rhinitis and asthma. So, if you have a history of these conditions, or if you’re allergic to bee stings, please refrain from taking royal jelly. In addition, if you are allergic to conifer and poplar trees, your should avoid this product.
Allergic reactions triggers can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions include mild gastrointestinal upset, while severe allergic reactions include asthma, anaphylaxis shock, and intestinal bleeding. In extremely severe cases, it might lead to death. Therefore, if you exhibit any allergic reaction symptoms, stop taking the supplement immediately and consult a medical professional.
Physician Chu also recommends that those with low blood sugar, low blood pressure and those who tend to have weak and soft stools or even diarrhoea should avoid consuming this bee product.
“Besides the allergic concerns, I’d advise healthy children from 5-12 years old undergoing normal growth not to take royal jelly as supplements on a regular basis, as this is to prevent precocious (early) puberty growth,” he says. “Pregnant women should also avoid royal jelly to prevent excessive estrogenic activity which may lead to the abnormal contractions of the uterus, thus affecting the normal growth of the foetus.”
Aside from keeping a healthy lifestyle, you must build up your strength to maintain good health. Incorporating royal jelly into your diet can be an alternative way to help your immune system fight against infectious diseases.
- Advanced Biomedical Research. 2012. Effect of royal jelly on spatial learning and memory in rat model of streptozotocin-induced sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2019. Effect of royal jelly on menopausal symptoms: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2014. Effect of royal jelly on premenstrual syndrome among Iranian medical sciences students: a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled study. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Microbiological Research. 2016. Royal Jelly: An ancient remedy with remarkable antibacterial properties. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Iranian Journal of Toxicology. 2014. Protective role of royal jelly in oxymetholone-induced oxidative injury in mouse testis. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019. Royal Jelly and Its Components Promote Healthy Aging and Longevity: From Animal Models to Humans. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- International Wound Journal. 2015. The efficacy of topical royal jelly on healing of diabetic foot ulcers: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Journal of Animal Production (Hayvansal Üretim). 2019. Use of Royal Jelly as Functional Food in Human and Animal Health. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2016. Comparison of the effects of vaginal royal jelly and vaginal estrogen on quality of life, sexual and urinary function in postmenopausal women. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Nutrition Journal. 2012. Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Nutrition Research and Practice. 2010. Royal jelly enhances migration of human dermal fibroblasts and alters the levels of cholesterol and sphinganine in an in vitro wound healing model. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Nutritionist Resource. 2018. Ten royal benefits of royal jelly. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2017. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- World Rabbit Science. 2014. Impact of royal jelly to improve reproductive performance of male rabbits under hot summer conditions. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Molecules. 2020. Royal Jelly-A Traditional and Natural Remedy for Postmenopausal Symptoms and Aging-Related Pathologies. [Accessed 9 June 2021]