Royal Jelly is a specialized nutritional substance produced by worker bees for the queen bee. It has been utilized for centuries for health enhancement and promoting overall well-being, holding significant importance in traditional and folk medicine practices . Royal Jelly exhibits a wide range of biological activities, including antimicrobial, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and immune-modulatory effects. As a result, Royal Jelly is extensively used as a dietary supplement to aid in addressing various chronic health issues . Its supplementation has also been extensively researched for its potential in alleviating menopausal symptoms and age-related ailments .
What is royal jelly?
Royal Jelly is a viscous substance composed of water (50%–60%), proteins (18%), carbohydrates (15%), lipids (3%–6%), minerals, and vitamins (1.5%). The mineral content primarily includes copper, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, and sodium. Vitamins found in royal jelly include biotin, folic acid, inositol, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin E. Additionally, royal jelly contains approximately 185 organic compounds .
Produced by worker bees, royal jelly is a milky secretion. It is exclusively consumed by queen bees and serves as their primary source of sustenance throughout their life cycle. Not only is royal jelly essential for the queen bee’s development and longevity, but it also plays a crucial role in the nourishment of honeybee larvae. Queen larvae exclusively consume royal jelly, whereas worker larvae are primarily fed pollen and honey. A key compound found in royal jelly is Royalactin, which is responsible for inducing larval metamorphosis into queen bees. This transformation is vital for the development of long-lived queen bees and is a contributing factor to the belief that royal jelly may have longevity-enhancing properties.
What is the difference between Royal Jelly, Honey, and Propolis?
Honey is a sweet liquid produced by bees, and it is known globally for its beneficial high nutritional content. Throughout history, it has been used by ancient civilizations including Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese for treating intestinal wounds, gastric ulcers, as well as for remedies for cough, sore throat, and earaches. Key active components in honey include glucose, fructose, flavonoids, polyphenols, and organic acids, contributing to its functional nutritional value.
Propolis refers to a resinous substance collected by bees from various plant sources, serving functions like sealing holes and cracks, reconstructing beehives, and smoothing the inner surfaces of the hive. It maintains the internal temperature of the hive, protects against weathering and predators, and contributes to internal antimicrobial environment. Propolis typically becomes soft and sticky when heated. Due to its properties including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiulcer, anticancer, and immune-regulating, propolis and its extracts have been widely used in treating various health conditions.
Royal Jelly is a white, viscous jelly-like substance produced by worker bees from their mandibular and hypopharyngeal glands. It serves as the exclusive food for queen bees. The development of a honey bee larva into either a queen or a worker bee depends on the quantity and quality of royal jelly it receives.
What is the difference between Royal Jelly and Worker Jelly?
There is not much research on the compositional differences between Royal Jelly and Worker Jelly. However, studies have shown that Royal Jelly has a lower moisture content compared to Worker Jelly. Additionally, it has been found that the food of 1-3 day-old queen bee larvae contains 12.4% sugars, which is approximately four times the amount found in worker bee jelly.
The differences in the substances present in their diets can affect the hormone secretion of bee larvae, leading to different DNA methylation patterns and subsequently different gene expressions. This ultimately determines whether the bee larva will develop into a queen or a worker bee. In essence, feeding bee larvae Royal Jelly induces them to become queens, while feeding them Worker Jelly induces them to become worker bees.
5 Major Benefits of Royal Jelly
1. Relieving Menopausal Symptoms
Traditionally, Royal Jelly has been used to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Research has shown that supplementing with Royal Jelly can improve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, stiff neck, back pain, and headaches in menopausal women. As a long-term nutritional supplement, the safety of Royal Jelly has been confirmed through various clinical studies, and there have been no reported adverse reactions when given a daily dose of 1000 milligrams of Royal Jelly.
Clinical studies have investigated the effects of Royal Jelly supplementation on menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women. In a study involving postmenopausal women who were supplemented with 800 milligrams of Royal Jelly for 12 consecutive weeks, menopausal symptom questionnaires were used to assess symptoms every 4 weeks. The results indicated that Royal Jelly supplementation significantly improved symptoms of anxiety, back pain, and waist pain in comparison to menopausal women who did not receive supplementation.
2. Improving Skin Aging
Royal Jelly is believed to have the ability to stimulate collagen production, potentially enhancing the production of collagen in skin cells to protect against photoaging caused by UV radiation. Animal studies have shown that when animals with removed ovaries (mimicking estrogen deficiency) were given a dietary supplement containing 1% Royal Jelly extract, the content of Type I collagen in their back skin increased, approaching normal levels. Through this experiment, it was discovered that Royal Jelly can prevent skin aging by enhancing collagen synthesis.
3. Lowering Cholesterol
Royal Jelly exhibits various bioactivities, and its potential to combat hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels) has been widely studied. Previous research suggests that bile acid-binding proteins found in Royal Jelly have cholesterol-lowering effects. Clinical studies have shown that daily supplementation with 6 grams of Royal Jelly for 4 weeks led to a significant reduction in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). Another clinical study involving individuals with mild hypercholesterolemia found that daily supplementation of 3.15 grams of Royal Jelly resulted in significant reductions in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Importantly, the intake of Royal Jelly did not induce any liver or kidney damage.
4. Effectively Improving Dry Eye Syndrome
Several studies have indicated that substances such as honey, propolis, royal jelly, and pollen can effectively alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Among these, royal jelly has been found to have the greatest potential for restoring tear secretion. Research suggests that royal jelly can regulate tear gland secretion and prevent dry eye syndrome. In a clinical study, patients aged 20 to 60 with symptoms of dry eye syndrome were given a daily supplementation of 7.2 grams of royal jelly for 8 weeks. The results showed a significant increase in tear production among the patients with dry eye syndrome, and no adverse events were reported.
5. Improving Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Many women nowadays are supplementing with royal jelly to alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In a clinical study, participants were given royal jelly supplementation continuously for two menstrual cycles. Swelling-related symptoms, including excessive breast swelling, bloating, fluid retention, and weight gain, were assessed through questionnaires.
The results revealed that, compared to those who did not take royal jelly, participants who supplemented with it experienced significant reductions in swelling after the first menstrual cycle. This trend continued into the second menstrual cycle as well. The study indicated that royal jelly supplementation effectively improved swelling symptoms associated with PMS. Another similar study also found that daily supplementation of 1000 milligrams of royal jelly was effective in reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
How to Store Royal Jelly?
Fresh royal jelly is recommended to be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. It won’t significantly affect the quality, potency, or integrity of fresh royal jelly if left unrefrigerated for a few days, but it’s still advisable to use it as soon as possible. Royal jelly powder and capsules are generally very stable and can be stored in a cool place, preferably at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.
Who Should Avoid Consuming Royal Jelly?
People who are prone to allergies, individuals with asthma, or those who have previously experienced allergies to bee-related products should also avoid consuming royal jelly . Additionally, royal jelly contains estrogen-like compounds similar to exogenous steroid hormones. Therefore, consuming royal jelly means ingesting foods with hormone-like components.
As a result, women with gynecological diseases or cancers (such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, etc.) are advised to consult a doctor before supplementing with royal jelly. For adolescents and children in their developmental stages, royal jelly, similar to other exogenous estrogens, might have estrogenic effects. This could potentially impact male reproductive capabilities. Animal studies have shown that royal jelly intake affects the reproductive system of adolescent male rats, and the effects were mitigated upon discontinuation of supplementation.
What are the side effects of royal jelly?
While many studies have demonstrated the safety of long-term royal jelly supplementation and have reported no adverse reactions , there is still a possibility of experiencing allergies. Allergic reactions could manifest as hives, difficulty breathing, facial, lip, tongue, or throat swelling, among other symptoms. If any allergic symptoms occur, it is recommended to discontinue the use of royal jelly and seek medical attention immediately.
Further Reading: 3 Benefits and Side Effects of Ceramides, Your Key to Hydrated Skin