Benefits and Uses of Royal Jelly

What to Know About This Milky-White Bee Superfood

royal jelly
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A substance produced by honeybees, royal jelly is made up of protein, sugars, fatty acid, probiotics, and water. It is produced by worker bees for only a few honeybees (while all other bees eat beebread), which helps the honeybees develop into queen bees.

Widely available for purchase online, royal jelly is sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Uses for Royal Jelly

Proponents claim that royal jelly can help with a variety of conditions, such as:

Since royal jelly is consumed by queen bees (the type of bee that lays eggs and is responsible for maintaining the population of the colony), proponents claim that eating royal jelly can help with fertility.

In addition, royal jelly is said to slow up the aging process, boost energy levels, stimulate the immune system, and enhance liver health.

Although research on the health effects of royal jelly is limited, there's some evidence that royal jelly may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:

Diabetes

Royal jelly may regulate blood sugar levels, suggests a study published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes in 2016. In tests on people with type 2 diabetes, the study's authors found that ingestion of royal jelly three times a day for eight weeks helped to decrease blood sugar levels and heart disease markers compared to a placebo.

Although blood sugar control is a key element of diabetes management, more research is needed before royal jelly can be recommended for the treatment of diabetes.

High Cholesterol

In a small study published in 2016, healthy postmenopausal women took royal jelly daily for three months. At the study's end, there was a significant improvement in HDL cholesterol (so-called "good" cholesterol) as well as a decrease in LDL (known as "bad" cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels.

The results of a 2017 study also suggest that royal jelly may help to improve cholesterol levels. For the study, adults with mild high cholesterol took either royal jelly or a placebo daily for three months. At the study's end, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced in those taking the royal jelly, however, there was no change in triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, body weight, waist size, or body fat.

A previous study on healthy adults found that royal jelly had no effect on cholesterol.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Preliminary research suggests that royal jelly may help to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In a study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, female university students took either royal jelly (starting on the first day of menstruation and continuing through two menstrual cycles) or a placebo. After two months of royal jelly consumption, PMS symptoms were reduced.

Side Effects

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the long-term or regular use of royal jelly. However, royal jelly can trigger severe allergic reactions in some individuals, so if you have an allergy to bee products, it's crucial to take caution and talk to your doctor prior to using royal jelly.

There have been cases of asthma, anaphylaxis, and hemorrhagic colitis after ingestion of royal jelly. 

Royal jelly may increase levels of testosterone (particularly in men), by speeding the conversion of DHEA-S to testosterone, according to a study on healthy adults.

Royal jelly may interact with certain medications, such as warfarin. It's possible that it may affect levels of DHEA-S and other hormones.

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your healthcare provider before taking royal jelly supplements. 

The Takeaway

Although royal jelly is said to be a nutritious food responsible for the long lifespan and fertility of queen bees, there have been only small, preliminary studies on the health effects in humans.

Until we know more, royal jelly shouldn't be used in place of established strategies, such as diet and exercise, to manage diabetes or high cholesterol.

Some people have experienced adverse effects, like allergic or drug interactions, after taking royal jelly and there's some concern that it may affect the levels of testosterone and other hormones. If you're still considering trying it, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first to see if it's right for you. 

Sources:

Chiu HF, Chen BK, Lu YY, et al. Hypocholesterolemic efficacy of royal jelly in healthy mild hypercholesterolemic adults. Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):497-502.

Khoshpey B, Djazayeri S, Amiri F, et al. Effect of Royal Jelly Intake on Serum Glucose, Apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) and ApoB/ApoA-I Ratios in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind Clinical Trial Study. Can J Diabetes. 2016 Aug;40(4):324-8.

Lambrinoudaki I, Augoulea A, Rizos D, et al. Greek-origin royal jelly improves the lipid profile of postmenopausal women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2016 Oct;32(10):835-839.

Taavoni S, Barkhordari F, Goushegir A, Haghani H. Effect of Royal Jelly on premenstrual syndrome among Iranian medical sciences students: a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Aug;22(4):601-6.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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