You may have heard about the benefits of honey, but have you heard about royal jelly? This amazing superfood is another honeybee product that can enhance your immune system and more. Learn more about the powerful benefits of royal jelly and why you should add it to your diet.
What is Royal Jelly?
A product of honeybees, royal jelly is a nutritious milky white substance that work bees secrete. The bees feed it to the queen bee larva and the queen bee throughout its life. It is also fed to newly hatched honeybee larvae during their first two to three days of life.
According to the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, royal jelly consists of water (50%-60%), proteins (18%), carbohydrates (15%), lipids (3%–6%), minerals, amino acids, and water-soluble vitamins. The most important protein found in it is royalactin. This is the main compound that enables a queen bee larva to mature into an adult queen bee. This is also why the queen bee lives much longer compared to other bees.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners classify this honeybees product as a tonic. “It is considered neutral in nature because it is neither cold nor warm, with a sweet and sour flavor. It influences the spleen and liver meridians,” explains Chu I Ta, Chief TCM Physician at Real Health Medical clinic in Singapore. “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 that demonstrates antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, and has beneficial effects on the immune system. TCM practitioners have long used it 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
Reduces symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) strikes many women in the week or so leading up to their periods. Royal jelly can provide natural support for PMS symptoms.
Researchers who published a study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine gave 110 students with PMS at 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 who received royal jelly reported that their PMS symptoms were significantly reduced.
Improves symptoms of menopause
Royal jelly may also relieve symptoms associated with menopause.
Menopause occurs when a woman does not have a period for 12 months in a row (barring no other potential medical reasons). It causes a reduction in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones.
According to the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, daily oral consumption of royal jelly (1000 mg) for eight weeks in 200 postmenopausal women between 45 and 60 years old effectively alleviated their menopausal symptoms. However, further research is necessary to confirm the effects.
Improves fertility in men
Animal research has shown that royal jelly can help to improve fertility in men.
In a 2014 study published by the journal World Rabbit Science, researchers 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 published by Advanced Biomedical Research in 2012 examined the effects of royal jelly on spatial learning and memory in rats. It discovered the potential role of the substance 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 on sporadic AD published by Heliyon in 2020 found that royal jelly promotes beneficial effects on cognitive functions and exhibits a neuroprotective action, protecting nerve cells against damage and degeneration.
Aids in wound healing
Research published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies studied the use of honey bee milk as a wound healing aid. The study included in vivo studies on rats and in vitro studies (lab-based studies) on human skin cells The study demonstrated that it can help improve wound healing and shows potential for further studies to develop royal jelly-based wound care products and processes.
Moreover, a study in Scientific Reports demonstrated that defensin-1, a bee-derived antibacterial peptide found in honey and bee milk, contributes to wound closure, re-epithelialization (regeneration of the epidermis), and it can significantly increase the movement of fibroblast to a wound. Antibacterial peptides are found widely in animals and plants and used for defense purposes.
Provides anti-aging effects
A scientific review by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that the glycoproteins and lipids found in royal jelly may help to extend the lifespan in some creatures, including worker honeybees, flies, crickets, silkworms, and mice. The review also found that it may help to prevent senescence, the process of deterioration with age, of human tissues in cell cultures.
Researchers from the same study hope that specific royal jelly anti-aging drugs can be formulated in the future. However, a lot of work is still required to understand the effects of this honeybee product concerning gender, diet, activity level, and other factors that affect health and longevity.
Support a healthy immune system
Animal studies show that bee products such as royal jelly help to enhance immunity.
A 2016 study published in Veterinary Research Forum observed positive effects of propolis, pollen, and honey on immune system health and growth performance in Japanese quails. The study found that this may be due to the nature of these bee products, which are active against microbes and stimulate immunity function.
The same study also noted a significant increase in antibody production among birds fed with royal jelly.
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. Processed forms are freeze-dried. It may also come in powder form or be packed into pills or capsules.
Whether you want to consume the fresh product 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 of royal jelly. Consuming this bee product may trigger rhinitis and asthma. So, if you have a history of these conditions, or if you’re allergic to bee stings, please don’t take this supplement. In addition, if you are allergic to conifer and poplar trees, you also should avoid it.
Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions include mild gastrointestinal upset, while severe allergic reactions include asthma, anaphylaxis, and intestinal bleeding. In extremely severe allergic reactions, death could occur. Therefore, if you exhibit any allergic reaction, 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 diarrhea also avoid consuming it.
“Besides the allergic concerns, I’d advise healthy children from 5-12 years old undergoing normal growth not to take the bee milk as supplements on a regular basis, as this is to prevent precocious (early) puberty growth,” he says. “ Pregnant women should also avoid it to prevent excessive estrogenic activity which may lead to the abnormal contractions of the uterus, thus affecting the normal growth of the fetus.”
The benefits of royal jelly are far-reaching. Incorporating this superfood supplement into your diet can be a simple way to help strengthen your immune system and slow down the aging process, among many other potential health benefits.
- Advanced Biomedical Research. 2012. Effect of royal jelly on spatial learning and memory in rat model of streptozotocin-induced sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2020. The in vitro and in vivo wound-healing effects of royal jelly derived from Apis mellifera L. during blossom seasons of Castanea mollissima Bl. and Brassica napus L. in South China exhibited distinct patterns. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2019. Effect of royal jelly on menopausal symptoms: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. [Accessed 21 October 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 21 October 2021]
- Heliyon. 2020. Oral treatment with royal jelly improves memory and presents neuroprotective effects on icv-STZ rat model of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Iranian Journal of Toxicology. 2014. Protective role of royal jelly in oxymetholone-induced oxidative injury in mouse testis. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019. Royal Jelly and Its Components Promote Healthy Aging and Longevity: From Animal Models to Humans. [Accessed 21 October 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 21 October 2021]
- Journal of Animal Production (Hayvansal Üretim). 2019. Use of Royal Jelly as Functional Food in Human and Animal Health. [Accessed 21 October 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 21 October 2021]
- Microbiological Research. 2016. Royal Jelly: An ancient remedy with remarkable antibacterial properties. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Molecules. 2020. Royal Jelly-A Traditional and Natural Remedy for Postmenopausal Symptoms and Aging-Related Pathologies. [Accessed 9 June 2021]
- Nutrition Journal. 2012. Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Nutritionist Resource. 2018. Ten royal benefits of royal jelly. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2017. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Scientific Reports. 2017. Bee-derived antibacterial peptide, defensin-1, promotes wound re-epithelialisation in vitro and in vivo. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- Veterinary Research Forum. 2016. Effects of propolis, royal jelly, honey and bee pollen on growth performance and immune system of Japanese quails. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- World Rabbit Science. 2014. Impact of royal jelly to improve reproductive performance of male rabbits under hot summer conditions. [Accessed 21 October 2021]