Royal jelly sounds prestigious, stirring up curiosity, and for good reason. The name alone can draw you in, but what else makes it appealing? Well, for starters, it’s been reported to have anti-tumor, antibacterial and wound-healing properties.
I’m sure, by now, you’re wondering where this royal jelly treatment comes from. It’s a nutritious substance produced by young nurse bees and contains significant amounts of proteins that are important for cell growth and reproduction. Just like honey, it originates from beehives — however, bees produce these substances for very different reasons. While honey provides energy for the worker bees, royal jelly acts as the main source of food for the colony’s queen. A royal treatment indeed and likely how the name was derived.
Just like some of the top uses for honey, royal jelly is used for a number of health reasons, such as an asthma natural remedy, healthy bone development, an age-defying treatment and to boost the immune system, to name a few. It’s even been noted as a possible way to inhibit cancer growth. (1)
Royal Jelly Benefits
Some people use royal jelly as medicine, but it’s important that you don’t confuse it with bee pollen or bee venom, as these substances aren’t exactly the same. Here are some of the specific royal jelly benefits.
1. Boosts Immune System and Counters Allergic Reactions
According to a 2001 study published in the journal International Immunopharmacology, royal jelly can help boost the immune system. In the study, histamine response to allergens was immediately suppressed, showing that it may help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. (2) However, more research is still needed to completely validate its allergen-suppressing abilites.
2. Helps Alzheimer’s Patients
Recent research indicates royal jelly may improve short-term memory because it’s demonstrated to have a beneficial role on neural functions. We know that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with impairments of learning and memory, which is why this study published in Advanced Biomedical Research was designed to examine the effect of royal jelly on spatial learning and memory.
Because the brain tissue contains a lot of unsaturated fatty acids that are especially vulnerable for free radical attacks, the antioxidant substances found in royal jelly can play an important role in prevention and cure of neurodegenerative diseases. That includes working as a potential Alzheimer’s natural treatment. (3)
3. Contains Beneficial Probiotics
Royal honey appears to have a valuable effect as a source of bifidobacteria, which is the beneficial bacteria that supports the health of the gastrointestinal tract, making it a useful probiotic. Clinical studies have associated other beneficial effects, such as immune enhancement and anti-carcinogenicity, with the presence of bifidobacteria in the GI tract. The unique composition of honey suggests that it could enhance the growth, activity and viability of bifidobacteria in fermented dairy products. (4)
4. Eases Menopausal and Postmenopausal Symptoms
Research shows that taking royal jelly can help reduce menopausal symptoms and improve feelings of well-being in menopausal women. The combination of royal jelly, evening primrose oil, damiana and ginseng may also decrease menopausal symptoms. (5, 6)
5. Improves Collagen Levels for Great Skin
A study conducted by the Department of East-West Medical Science at Kyung Hee University in Korea reports that royal jelly regulates skin photoaging following exposure to ultraviolet-B radiation. The anti-aging effects on the skin were assessed by determining the collagen content and epidermal thickness of skin tissue.
The level of procollagen type I protein was increased in the subjects that were fed with a dietary supplement containing 1 percent royal jelly extract. These findings indicate that royal jelly may protect against skin aging by enhancing collagen production. (7)
6. Treats Osteoporosis
The Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Medical Faculty of Erciyes University in Turkey aimed to investigate whether royal jelly and bee pollen reduce the bone loss due to osteoporosis. Bone mineral density was measured, tissue samples were taken and blood samples were collected for the study. This helped determine bone calcium and phosphate levels with imaging through a scanning electron microscope.
There were significant differences found that showed positive bone health in the lumbar spine and proximal femur in the royal jelly and bee pollen groups. Bone tissue calcium and phosphate levels were higher, as well, indicating that royal jelly and bee pollen may decrease bone loss due to osteoporosis. (8)
7. Aids in Healing Wounds
Honey has long been known as an aid in wound healing. Studies reveal that royal jelly has significant benefits in wound healing as well. In a 2010 study, a wound was promptly treated with royal jelly at varying concentrations for up to 48 hours, and migration was analyzed by evaluating closure of the wound margins. Furthermore, altered levels of lipids, which were recently reported to participate in the wound-healing process, were analyzed.
Migration of fibroblasts peaked at 24 hours after wounding, and royal jelly treatment significantly accelerated the migration of fibroblasts within 24 hours. Ultimately, the research demonstrated that royal jelly enhances the migration of fibroblasts, a cell in connective tissue that produces collagen and other fibers, and alters the levels of various lipids involved in the wound-healing process. (9)
8. Improves Male Infertility
Research published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine evaluated the protective effect of royal jelly on sperm parameters, testosterone levels and malondialdehyde production in mice. Sperm count, sperm motility, viability, maturity and DNA integrity were analyzed in the study. The findings suggest royal jelly treatments can improve male fertility. (10)
9. Treats Diabetes
There have been a few studies suggesting that royal jelly may improve some type 2 diabetes markers in both men and women. In a randomized clinical trial, 40 patients with type 2 diabetes were assigned to receive either 10 grams fresh royal jelly or a placebo after overnight fasting. Though the effects were not immediate and more studies are needed, there were some changes in glucose levels that may benefit type 2 diabetics, indicating that it may work as a diabetes natural treatment. (11, 12)
10. Helps Decrease Mucositis Symptoms
Studies indicate that royal jelly can aid in the healing time in patients receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Combined with standard mouthwash therapy, it was shown to improve symptoms of oral mucositis. Data suggests that topical application of films that contain royal jelly had a healing effect on the severe oral mucositis and that the effect was caused by its anti-inflammatory or antioxidative activities. (13, 14)
Royal Jelly vs. Honey
Both royal jelly and raw honey have been harvested for centuries for both similar and different reasons. Royal jelly is typically used as a nutritional supplement, and we all know honey as a delicious natural sweetener for our morning toast or afternoon tea — and they both can be highly beneficial to your health.
There are numerous proven and potential benefits of royal jelly and honey, many of which are similar. Here is a quick guide that may help you determine how best to use it based on your needs.
It’s a honey bee secretion that’s used in the nutrition of larvae and adult queens. It’s known for:
- Immune system support
- Antibiotic effects
- Kidney, pancreatic and liver disease support
- Healthy skin
- Energy and vitality
- Healing wounds
- Fighting cancer
- Hormone support
- Digestive support
- Bone support
- Diabetic support
Raw honey is 100 percent unprocessed, meaning it’s pure, natural, unpasteurized and unadulterated. It retains all the enzymes, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, rich vitamins, minerals and carbohydrate content in this form. Honey is known for:
- Natural sweetener
- Weight loss support
- Helping regulate insulin
- Antibacterial power for the skin
- Sore throat remedy
- Local honey my help build immunity to local allergens
- Antioxidant effects
- Healing wounds
- Improved athletic performance
Here are some more fun facts on these two bee products:
- How to become a queen bee: Did you know that royal jelly is actually an important step in becoming a queen bee?Uniquely, it’s the only determining factor in the development of a queen bee from an ordinary bee. The hive selects its next queen when she’s just a few days old. Once she’s been chosen, the queen bee to-be starts getting fed royal jelly and eats it for the rest of her life. And all those nutrients are what make her the biggest bee on the hive living longer than the other bees.
- Royal jelly will make you smarter: Royal jelly has been touted as brain food due to its ability to improve cognitive functions. I don’t suggest you run out and eat a ton of it right away, but with proper research and the right dosage, it just may improve your short-term memory, your ability to learn new things and even your motor skills.
- Raw honey was depicted on cave paintings: Honey has been loved for a very long time. Cave paintings, dating to around 13,000 years old, depict beekeeping. In fact, the world’s oldest intact beehive is in Israel and believed to be 3,000 years old.
- Beekeeping was illegal: Believe or not, beekeeping was illegal in many U.S. cities, including Norfolk, Va., where it’s still illegal today. It became legal in New York city in 2010. (15)
- The honey badger uses a honeyguide: Honey badgers favor bee honey and often search for beehives to get it, which earns them their name. However, the honeyguide, which feeds on beeswax, is a tiny bird that leads honey badgers to beehives so they can feast on the delicious honey. When the honey badger is done feasting, the honeyguide swoops in and feasts on the beeswax left over.
The Science & History Behind Royal Jelly
Royal jelly contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, free amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It contains about 60 percent to 70 percent water, 12 percent to 15 percent proteins, 10 percent to 16 percent sugar, 3 percent to 6 percent fats, and 2 percent to 3 percent vitamins, salts and amino acids. Its composition varies depending on geography and climate.
Its health benefits became very popular upon use by the pope in the 1950s, who was suffering from both age and asthmatic problems. At that time, so many Catholics and Christians began seeking it that it became scarce and likely why it became expensive. In addition, the Chinese have used it for generations as well as the Asiatic peoples. (16)
Royal jelly is a proteinaceous secretion derived from the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of young worker bees. It’s the sole food fed to the queen throughout her lifetime and is also fed to all young larvae for the first three days after hatching. Thsi bee fuel possesses various biological attributes beneficial for human health, such as antioxidant activities, antibacterial effects, enhancement of immune activity and anti-tumor effects.
Protein accounts for more than 50 percent of royal jelly by dry weight. It’s been reported that nine members of major royal jelly proteins account for 80 percent to 90 percent of the total protein. Other proteins, such as alpha-glucosidase, glucose oxidase and alpha-amylase, have also been detected. (17)
Furthermore, honeybee (Apis mellifera) royal jelly has a long history in human medicine because of its health-protecting properties. To develop a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of lipids it contains, overall, the lipids are composed of mostly (aliphatic) fatty acids, almost all of which are present as free fatty acids. Lipids are a class of organic compounds that are fatty acids and insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They include many natural oils, waxes and steroids.
Most fatty acids in royal jelly are medium-chain fatty acids. The lipids are useful as preventive and supportive medicines with functionalities that include potential inhibitors of cancer growth, immune system modulators, alternative therapies for menopause, skin-aging protectors and more. (18)
How to Buy Royal Jelly and Dosage
The flavor of royal jelly is mostly described as astringent, dry, slightly bitter and leaving an aftertaste. This aftertaste is sometimes equated with extremely low doses of bee venom, giving a numbing or tingling feeling to the tongue and mouth. For this reason people who have severe allergic reaction to bee venom should not be given royal jelly.
It’s very potent — therefore, you only need about half a teaspoon per day to gain its many benefits and receive adequate B vitamins. You can eat it raw, add it to honey as a spread, in your tea or in your morning smoothie.
You can buy it at your local health food store. If you don’t foresee using it frequently, freeze-dried royal jelly is more shelf-stable and maintains most of its benefits when stored at room temperature. When made into tablets or capsules, it’s usually mixed with fillers so, as always, read the labels.
If you’re using non-freeze-dried royal jelly, make sure to choose one that has been frozen because freezing helps better maintain its quality compared to storing at room temperature and refrigerating it.
You can purchase liquid formulations of royal jelly — however, they often contain preservatives and some honey to improve the flavor. (19)
Royal Jelly Risks
You should avoid royal honey if you have estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer because it can stimulate growth of cancer cells. Make sure to speak to your doctor before taking royal jelly if you take blood thinners or any medications and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
It’s important to note that several cases of anaphylaxis, asthma and hemorrhagic colitis have been reported with use of royal jelly. People who have severe allergic reactions to bee venom should not be given royal jelly.
The appropriate dose of royal jelly depends on several factors, such as the user’s age, health and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for royal jelly. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe, and dosages can be important.
Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist or physician before using.
Royal Jelly Takeaways
Touted as “the fountain of youth and beauty,” royal jelly contains vitamin B5 and other B vitamins, biotin, inositol, folate, nucleic acids, gamma globulin and 17 different amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce. And there’s more. It also contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, sulfur, zinc, iron and manganese. It’s no wonder that this sought-after nutritional profile provides vitality and energy-promoting properties.
These characteristics provide royal jelly with the ability to rejuvenate and regenerate the body, inhibit the aging process, maintain skin tone, alleviate arthritis pain, act as an antidepressant, help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, enhance our ability to think clearly, treat hormonal imbalances, and promote a healthy heart. That’s quite a list!
In addition, remember the following in regard to royal jelly:
- Royal jelly is used for a number of health reasons, such as an asthma natural remedy, healthy bone development, an age-defying treatment and to boost the immune system, to name a few. It’s even been noted as a possible way to inhibit cancer growth. It boosts the immune system and counters allergic reactions, helps Alzheimer’s patients, contains beneficial probiotics, eases menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms, improves collagen levels for great skin, treats osteoporosis, aids in healing wounds, improves male fertility, treats diabetes, and helps decrease mucositis symptoms.
- Royal jelly contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, free amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It contains about 60 percent to 70 percent water, 12 percent to 15 percent proteins, 10 percent to 16 percent sugar, 3 percent to 6 percent fats, and 2 percent to 3 percent vitamins, salts and amino acids. Its composition varies depending on geography and climate.