Royal Jelly has been used in traditional medicine since ancient times, especially in Asian and ancient Egyptian bee therapy, and is currently used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics and marketed as an over-the-counter functional food (other common bee products include bee pollen, honey and propolis).)
Various studies have reported the antibacterial effects of royal jelly on bacteria, fungi and viruses, while hypotensive, antitumor, anti-high cholesterol and anti-inflammatory effects have been observed in animal models. Note 11
In empirical medicine, what are the benefits of consuming royal jelly? Are there any side effects of royal jelly? See text analysis for details
What is royal jelly?
Royal Jelly is a white or yellowish creamy substance secreted by the jaw and hypopharyngeal glands of bees, which is the only food for queen bees in the larval and adult stages.
Royal jelly contains less water and four times as much sugar, more protein and different concentrations of mineral salts than worker bees’ food (pollen, nectar and honey mixture).
This unique composition of royal jelly leads to altered gene expression (through epigenetic mechanisms) that make queen bees and worker bees very different in lifespan and physical function, for example, queen bees can live up to 5 years old (worker bees usually live 45 days) and lay 2000-3000 eggs per day.
What are the components of royal jelly?
From a chemical point of view, royal jelly is a milky substance composed of 67% water, 16% sugar, 12.5% protein and amino acids, and 5% fat. In addition, it contains about 1.5% mineral salts (mainly copper, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, and sodium) and small amounts of flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamins (biotin, folate, inositol, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin E)
What are the recommended benefits of royal jelly?
1. Royal jelly lowers cholesterol
Cholesterol is an important component of cell membranes and steroid hormones, and the body synthesizes most of the cholesterol it needs, with the rest coming from the diet.
Because cholesterol is insoluble in the blood, it is wrapped up with proteins and phospholipids to form lipoprotein complexes that circulate in the blood, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C), very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL-C), and chylomicrons.
The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that more than 1 million Americans have high cholesterol levels (>200 mg/dL), of whom 3400 million require further treatment.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study (3-month study of 40 patients with mild hypercholesterolemia) showed that oral administration of royal jelly significantly reduced serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Note 1
In addition, there was no significant change in triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
*Conclusion: Royal jelly may have a positive effect on regulating cholesterol, but limited by small sample sizes, more studies are needed to support this
2. Royal jelly promotes health
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, refers to a state of complete physical, social, and mental health, not just the absence of disease or infirmity.
Proper nutrition is essential for growth, development, physical activity, reproduction, breastfeeding, recovery from illness and injury, and to stay healthy throughout the lifespan.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (6-month, 61 healthy adults) showed that consumption of royal jelly (100 ml per day) improved red blood cell counts, hematocrit, fasting blood glucose, and insulinogenic index compared with those who did not consume it, in addition to promoting mental health (measured on the SF-36 scale). index), DHEA-S, testosterone values. Note 1
*Conclusion: Royal milk intake can help improve red blood cell production, glucose tolerance and mental health, and may be potentially helpful for health promotion.
3. Royal jelly is beneficial for blood sugar control
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic syndrome manifested by hyperglycemia, and since there is no well-established treatment, it must be treated with regular injections of insulin and related drugs on the basis of careful monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Maintaining glycemic control is essential for patients’ quality of life and avoids serious secondary complications such as microvascular and macrovascular changes in diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, and retinopathy.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (5 randomized controlled trials, 335 participants) pointed out that although oral royal milk reduced fasting plasma glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), the magnitude was not statistically significant. Note 1
*Conclusion: Oral royal jelly is not significantly helpful for glycemic control, but due to the methodological problems and potential interfering factors of the included studies, more studies are needed to confirm its clinical benefit
4. Royal milk is beneficial to systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that affects all ages, ethnicities, and genders, but more than 90% of new patients with SLE are women of reproductive age.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is characterized by multisystem microvascular inflammation that produces large amounts of autoantibodies, especially antinuclear antibodies (ana), and common symptoms include: fever, malaise, arthralgia, myalgia, headache, appetite, and weight loss, which can lead to nephritis, neurological problems, anemia, and thrombocytopenia.
An open-label study (12-week study of 20 children with systemic lupus erythematosus) found that oral fresh royal jelly (2 g daily dose) helped increase CD4+ and CD8+ regulatory T cells and reduce the number of apoptotic CD4 T lymphocytes, in addition to improving the disease activity score (SLEDAI) in systemic lupus erythematosus. Note 1
*CD4+ and CD8+ regulatory T cells are associated with peripheral immune tolerance, and too low may lead to autoimmune diseases.
*Increased lymphocyte apoptosis is also one of the factors contributing to the pathogenesis of SLE.
*Conclusion: Oral administration of royal jelly may be positively helpful for disease control by improving clinical severity scores and related disease biomarkers, but limited by small sample sizes, more large-scale randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm clinical benefit
5. Royal jelly improves premenstrual syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome is a common condition in women of reproductive age, characterized by a series of physical and psychological discomforts (occurring in about 30% to 80%) that begin during the premenstrual period.
Common symptoms include swelling of the limbs, gastrointestinal problems (loss of appetite), headache, anxiety, depression, fatigue, edema, joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, breast tenderness, etc., and these symptoms often vary greatly from person to person or time, and in severe cases, even affect family, social or work.
The causes of PMS are still varied, but the biggest factor is due to hormonal fluctuations, and other factors such as neurotransmitters, prostaglandins, stress, age, diet, medications, marital status and lifestyle also have an impact, so symptomatic treatment has a certain degree of difficulty.
A randomized, three-blind, placebo-controlled trial (2-month study of 110 college students with PMS without reproductive disease or painkillers) found that oral royal jelly (1000 mg daily) improved premenstrual score (mean change of 11.75 points) compared with 1.20 points in the placebo group without any side effects. Note 2
*Conclusion: Oral royal jelly capsules can help reduce the severity of PMS, but due to the small sample size and short execution period, further large-scale, high-quality trials are still needed to support this
6. Royal jelly improves menopausal symptoms
Menopause refers to the phase of gradual cessation of the menstrual cycle, which occurs between the age of 40 and 50, mainly caused by changes in estrogen and progesterone, roughly divided into three stages, perimenopause (a period before complete menopause), menopause (complete menopause), postmenopause.
Most of the main menopausal symptoms appear 8 to 10 years before formal menopause, and common symptoms include: hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty falling asleep, memory impairment, vaginal dryness, headache, palpitations, joint stiffness and urinary incontinence.
It is estimated that as many as 85% of women experience menopause-related symptoms in their lifetime.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 12 healthy postmenopausal women with menopausal symptoms who did not receive any menopausal medication stated:
Oral royal milk capsules (800 mg daily) help improve anxiety, back pain, and low back pain (as measured by the menopausal symptom questionnaire). Note 3
The mechanism behind it may be related to the fatty acids contained in royal jelly (such as decenoic acid 10HDA and 10HDAA) that have estrogen receptor β regulatory properties, promote serotonin production and increase blood flow.
*Conclusion: Oral royal jelly may help relieve menopausal discomfort, especially anxiety, back pain, and low back pain, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are needed for further verification
7. Royal milk improves cancer-induced tiredness
Cancer-Related Fatigue is primarily defined as a constant, subjective feeling of exhaustion associated with cancer or cancer treatment, disproportionate to recent activity, and interferes with normal functioning (including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or biological therapy).
In most studies, 30% – 60% of patients reported moderate to severe fatigue during treatment, which in some cases may lead to interruption of treatment or even persistent fatigue for some for 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer, negatively affecting work, social relationships, mood, and daily activities.
A randomized, double-blind controlled trial (4-week study of 52 cancer patients undergoing hormone therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy) showed that royal jelly and honey significantly improved cancer exhaustion compared with the control group using honey alone (as measured by the Visual Analogue Fatigue Scale and the Fatigue Severity Scale). Note 4
The mechanism behind it may be related to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and immunomodulatory properties of royal jelly.
*Conclusion: For fatigue caused by cancer treatment, oral administration of royal milk and honey may bring relief effect, but limited by the small sample size and short intervention period, long-term large-scale trials are still needed for further verification
8. Royal jelly is good for dry eyes
Dry eye is a multifactorial tear and ocular surface disorder associated with lack or excessive evaporation of tear fluid, resulting in burning, photophobia, tearing, and gritty. Although this condition rarely leads to vision loss, when symptoms appear, it can reduce quality of life.
In epidemiological studies, the prevalence is between 7.4% and 33.7%, depending on the definition and diagnosis of the disease, as well as the population, geographical location, climate and other conditions surveyed.
An 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 43 patients with dry eye showed that oral royal milk lozenges (daily dose of 1200 mg x6) improved tear production, particularly in subjects with a Schirmer value ≤ 10 mm. Note 7
The mechanism behind it may be related to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of royal jelly, increased ATP, mitochondrial function, and phosphorylation of AMPK.
*Conclusion: For patients with dry eye syndrome, the intake of royal jelly can help increase tear secretion, which is positively helpful for disease improvement, but more large trials are still needed for further verification
9. Royal jelly is beneficial to oral mucositis
Mucositis is one of the most common side effects of chemoradiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancers (such as oral, nasopharyngeal, and esophageal cancers), occurring in approximately 15–40% of patients with chemotherapy and approaching 100% in radiation therapy.
The main symptoms of oral mucositis are mucosal tissue ulcers, resulting in pain, dysphagia, speech disorders, and even bacterial infections in severe cases, causing serious complications such as sepsis.
One study (sample size 13 people) found that prophylactic use of royal jelly helped reduce the incidence of oral mucositis caused by radiation and chemotherapy for cancer.
After radiotherapy, Grade 3 mucositis was observed in only 71.4% of royal milk users, compared to 100% of controls. Note 8
10. Royal jelly improves skin aging
90% of human skin is composed of collagen, which can maintain skin elasticity and plumpness, but generally after the age of 25, collagen will gradually be lost, and symptoms of first aging will appear.
After women reach menopause, estrogen deficiency will cause skin aging to worsen, and skin problems such as wrinkles, dryness and loss of elasticity.
Although estrogen replacement therapy can bring significant improvements in skin aging, the risk of cancer when used in the long term is often deterrent.
An animal study in rats lacking estrogen due to oophorectomy found that royal jelly helps improve the collagen production capacity of skin cells, and may be used as a natural ingredient (with beauty benefits) to fight skin aging. Note 9
Are there any side effects of royal jelly?
For most people, oral royal milk is very safe, but some side effects or adverse reactions have been reported, most of which are related to allergies to bee-related products, including asthma, contact dermatitis, gastrointestinal discomfort, anaphylaxis, etc., which may even lead to shock death
Contraindications to use (7 safety precautions)
1. Patients with asthma or those who have been allergic to pollen, honey, propolis and other bee-related products should not use (may induce severe allergic reactions, royal jelly proteins MRJP-1 and MRJP-2 are considered the main allergens)
2. Those with allergies are best to try a small amount (about 0.1 g) before use, if symptoms such as oropharyngeal itching, digestive disorders, dyspnea, excessive mucus secretion, rash, etc., please stop using immediately.
3. Do not use by pregnant women, nursing mothers, liver and kidney dysfunction (related safety is still unknown)
4. May have a blood pressure lowering effect (please be careful if you have low blood pressure or take related blood pressure lowering drugs)
5. It may interfere with the metabolism of anticoagulant drugs and aggravate the efficacy, so do not take them together
6. Animal and in vitro studies have pointed out that medium-chain fatty acid substances (sebalenic acid, sebacatenoic acid) in royal jelly have estrogenic activity and can regulate estrogen signaling, followed by activation of endogenous gene expression (although the same effect has not been found in humans), but for safety, it is still recommended that patients with estrogen-sensitive diseases do not use, 10 related symptoms such as the following
Precocious puberty in girls
7. Do not use it before puberty, royal jelly may have hormonal effects, which may cause early sexual characteristics or developmental delay
How do you eat royal jelly? When is the best time to eat?
As far as the current study is concerned, the optimal dose of royal jelly depends on the condition, and the generally recommended dose is 1 to 5 grams per day for 30-90 days, followed by a 10-30 day break.
Royal jelly can be taken once a day, preferably after waking up in the morning, on an empty stomach, or at least 15 minutes before eating
It is not recommended to eat royal jelly at night as it increases energy in the body and causes insomnia.