Honey might be the most well-known bee product in the world, but it certainly isn’t the only thing these magnificent creatures can come up with. Royal jelly, or bee milk, is a substance that functions as food for the queen bee and the bee larvae. The exciting part is that research shows that royal jelly, when ingested by humans, may offer a wide array of health benefits, including improved blood pressure regulation and inflammation relief.
Continue reading this article to learn more about royal jelly, its uses and whether or not it lives up to its name.
What Is Royal Jelly?
Royal jelly refers to the substance produced by the hypopharyngeal glands of nurse bees, which is then used as the only food source of the queen bee. This substance can be found in larval cells, where the bee larvae are partially submerged in royal jelly for sustenance for the first three days of life.1 These bees are usually weaned from royal jelly upon maturation and start eating pollen and honey, with only the queen larvae staying on a pure royal jelly diet to promote her fertility.
Before royal jelly was used as a supplement, it was utilized for a variety of traditional uses, including promotion of hair growth and wrinkle reduction. Some people have claimed that it can also help prolong life, the same way it’s supposedly able to increase the lifespan of the queen bee.
In Chinese medicine, royal jelly is revered as a substance that helps increase life expectancy, prevent disease and restore youth. Because of its popularity in China, the country is still one of the largest producers of this supplement.2
The composition of royal jelly was found to be a mixture of water, collagen, and numerous enzymes and hormones. Because of these components, it’s fair to assume that royal jelly is in fact beneficial for humans. Nowadays, royal jelly can be bought from numerous sources in the market as fresh royal jelly, capsules or powder.3
Royal Jelly’s Potential Health Benefits
Royal jelly contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. It contains all of the B vitamins, pantothenic acid and trace amounts of vitamin A, C, D and E.4 Here are some potential benefits you can get from a royal jelly supplement:5
• May improve skin health. Taking royal jelly as a supplement may help boost collagen production, which is essential for promoting healthier and younger skin. It can help boost wound healing as well if applied topically.6 Royal jelly also increases skin moisture, which may benefit patients with dry and damaged skin.7
• Assists in blood pressure regulation. In a 2004 study, it was found that royal jelly contains certain peptides that have antihypertensive properties. Patients who suffer from hypertension may benefit from royal jelly supplementation, as it helps normalize high blood pressure.8
• Supports fertility. Taking royal jelly regularly may help regulate hormone levels in the body, with people suffering from hormone imbalance benefitting more from this. Royal jelly may help improve the quality of women’s egg cells, which then increases their chances of getting pregnant.9 Royal jelly may benefit men as well, by promoting testosterone level increases.
• Reduces premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Royal jelly has the ability to mimic human estrogen, which is important for an improved menstrual cycle.10 In a 2014 study,11 females were given royal jelly supplements to deter the effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The results of the study show that royal jelly can help minimize the symptoms of PMS.
• Assists in diabetic ulcer healing. Diabetics are at high risk of suffering from ulcers in various parts of their body. This is usually characterized by slow healing and an increased risk for infection. Studies suggest that the application of royal jelly on diabetic ulcers can help with faster complete skin restoration.12
What Are the Other Ways You Can Use Royal Jelly?
Aside from being a nutritional supplement, royal jelly can also be used in numerous ways, including for cosmetic applications. Some of these include:
• Hair care. Royal jelly has been used for improving hair health and promoting hair growth. This is due to the high biotin content, a vitamin that promotes the production of keratin. There are numerous hair products in the market that incorporate royal jelly for this specific reason.
However, be wary of the authenticity of the products you’ll be using because there are some brands that only claim to contain royal jelly.13
• Skin care. Royal jelly is believed to have anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and wound healing properties because of its high collagen content, which is essential for skin renewal. You can either take it orally or apply it topically to receive its benefits. It can also be used as an acne treatment or sunscreen.14
Check Out These Royal Jelly Studies
The mystery behind royal jelly’s ability to transform a normal larva to a queen bee has caused numerous studies to be done on this area and the possible effects it may have on humans. Studies done on royal jelly have focused on its potential effects on cancer, fertility and its role in testosterone production.
In a study done in Iraq,15 infertile men were given different dosages of royal jelly and honey to increase the production of testosterone. After three months, the men who were given royal jelly had higher testosterone levels, improved sperm active motility and luteinizing hormone levels, thus showing the potential impact royal jelly can have on infertility in men.
In a 2014 study,16 royal jelly was also found to help with reducing the symptoms of mucositis in patients suffering from neck and head cancer. Mucositis refers to the inflammation of the digestive tract brought on by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients who were given royal jelly thrice a day showed a decreased occurrence of mucositis.
How Much Royal Jelly Is Safe to Take?
There are numerous ways to get your daily dose of royal jelly. You can get your supply in either powder or tablet form, but beekeepers and apitherapists say that the best way is by taking it fresh under the tongue. Putting it under the mouth and letting it melt there will speed up its absorption into the blood. This is better than swallowing it, as the digestive enzymes might deactivate some of the components of royal jelly.17
If you got your hands on royal jelly tablets, you can benefit from this substance by taking 50 to 300 milligrams daily. If you have the fresh kind or royal jelly powder, you can take roughly 6 grams per day. However, it’s a good idea to consult a health practitioner before taking it as a daily supplement to make sure you’re getting the dose that’s recommended for you.
It’s also worthwhile to note that taking royal jelly for long periods of time is not advisable. After 15 to 30 consecutive days of consumption, you should take a break for the same amount of time that you’ve been taking it. This will allow your gut flora to recover from the antibacterial property of royal jelly.18
Look Out for These Possible Royal Jelly Side Effects
Before you start taking royal jelly, it’s best that you’re aware of the possible side effects it can cause, some of which can cause considerable debilitation. Take note that if you’re allergic to bee stings or honey, you should not consume royal jelly. If you experience any of the following complications, immediately stop taking royal jelly and consult your doctor:
• Allergic asthma. Patients who have asthma may have a high chance of suffering from shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and chest tightness when taking royal jelly. This is usually triggered by the immune system when it mistakenly attacks the proteins in the supplement and produces histamine and antibodies.19
• Contact dermatitis. Cases of contact dermatitis have been reported when royal jelly is applied topically.20
• Anaphylaxis. In rare cases, people may suffer from severe anaphylactic shock, which may lead to death. The body reacts negatively to the introduction of royal jelly into the body, releasing a rush of chemicals to fight off the proteins in the supplement. This will then cause your blood pressure to drop, causing dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing.21
A Final Note Before Taking Royal Jelly
As a supplement, royal jelly may offer you numerous health benefits, especially when it comes to reproductive health and cardiovascular health. There are other areas that royal jelly may excel in, but the scientific studies are scarce. But this just means that this supplement may have more in store than what is already known. If you’re planning on taking royal jelly as a daily supplement, just make sure that you tick off the possibility of having a bee allergy to totally remove that risk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Royal Jelly
Q: Where can I buy royal jelly?
A: You can buy royal jelly from numerous organic food stores around the country. You can also order royal jelly from numerous online stores. Just make sure you’re getting your supply from trustworthy sources.
Q: What is royal jelly good for?
A: Royal jelly has been observed to help regulate cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and aid in reproductive health. There are also studies claiming that royal jelly may help reduce your risk for cancer. However, there are not enough studies that back this.
Q: Is royal jelly good for pregnancy?
A: Studies on the effect of royal jelly on pregnancy are scarce. To keep you and your child safe, consider stopping royal jelly supplementation once you find out that you’re pregnant so as to prevent possible pregnancy complications.
Q: Is royal jelly healthy?
A: Royal jelly contains a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals that can assist numerous body processes. However, while it’s full of healthy components, care should always be made before ingesting to make sure you won’t suffer from any of the side effects.
Q: What does royal jelly do?
A: Studies on royal jelly have shown that it has positive effects on both the cardiovascular and reproductive systems. It also helps raise testosterone levels, lower cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure.