In recent times, the market for supplements has been booming. Every couple of months, there is a new type of supplement on the market with various benefits. One such supplement that has become extremely popular lately is royal jelly.
Royal jelly is a creamy white substance that is secreted by worker honeybees in a colony with the purpose of feeding the queen bee and larvae. Royal jelly is known to have a high nutrient content and is known to offer a wide variety of health benefits, including wound healing diabetes, obesity, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).1,2
Royal jelly is sold as a dietary supplement for treating numerous physical illnesses and even chronic diseases. While royal jelly has been used for many years as a traditional medicine in many countries, its applications in the Western world and Western medicine is relatively new and still remains controversial. Here’s everything you need to know about this nutritious dietary supplement.
What Does Royal Jelly Contain?
The exact nutritional content of royal jelly varies according to geography and location, but it is highly nutritious and provides a wide range of many essential nutrients that are needed for good health.3,4 Here is a nutritional profile of royal jelly:
- Water: 50 to 60 percent
- Protein: 18 percent
- Lipids: 3 to 6 percent
- Carbohydrates: 15 percent
- Mineral salts: 1.5 percent
Trace amounts of many vitamins and minerals can also be found in royal jelly, including a variety of the B group vitamins. Royal jelly also contains some polyphenols, which are a form of plant-based chemicals that are rich in antioxidants.5
Some of the B vitamins typically found in royal jelly include:
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
- Biotin (vitamin B7)
- Inositol (vitamin B8)
- Folic acid (vitamin B9)
Even though a lot of research is currently ongoing on royal jelly, but the complete chemical makeup of the substance is still unknown. However, it is strongly believed that its positive health benefits are due to the unique proteins and fatty acids present in the jelly.6 These include nine types of glycoproteins that are collectively known as major royal jelly proteins (MRJPs) and two types of fatty acids, 10-Hydroxydecanoic acid, and trans-10-Hydroxy-2-decanoic acid.7
All these nutrients are believed to be the source of many of the health benefits associated with royal jelly. However, more research is still needed on this unique supplement.
Health Benefits of Royal Jelly
Let us look at the potential health benefits of royal jelly:
Royal Jelly May Provide Potent Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Effects
One of the biggest health benefits of royal jelly is that it helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. In numerous animal and test-tube studies, certain amino acids, phenolic compounds, and fatty acids found in royal jelly have been found to have potent antioxidant properties.8
Many test-tube studies also found a decrease in the levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals released from immune cells that were treated with royal jelly.9,10,11
While these results are indeed promising, but there is a lack of humans studies. More research is needed to come to any definitive conclusions on whether it is possible to treat inflammation with royal jelly.
Royal Jelly May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Numerous animal and human studies have found that royal jelly can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Even though the exact manner in which this happens remains unclear, it is believed that certain proteins present on royal jelly may help reduce the levels of cholesterol.12
In fact, one 12-week study even found that rabbits that were given supplements containing royal jelly had a significant reduction in their bad LDL and total cholesterol levels by 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively.13
These benefits of royal jelly have also been proven in human studies. A one-month human study done in December 2017 found an 11 percent and four percent decrease in total and bad LDL cholesterol levels in people who were given three grams of royal jelly every day.14
However, in 2012, another smaller human study found that there was no significant difference in the cholesterol levels of participants who were given royal jelly and those who were given a placebo.15
More research is still needed to get a better understanding of royal jelly’s effect on heart health and how it reduces cholesterol levels.
Royal Jelly May Help Lower Blood Pressure
By lowering your blood pressure, certain proteins present in royal jelly may help protect your heart and the circulatory system. Many test-tube studies have indicated that certain proteins in royal jelly help relax the smooth muscle cells in the arteries and veins, which in turn lowers blood pressure.16
A recent 2018 animal study investigated a supplement that combined royal jelly with other substances also derived from honey bees. It found that there was a dramatic reduction in blood pressure, though the exact role of royal jelly in the supplement remained unclear.17
While more research is still needed, the early results are extremely promising.
Royal Jelly May Help In Skin Conditions And Promote Wound Healing
Royal jelly, used either orally or topically, is believed to support wound healing and treat a variety of inflammatory skin conditions.
Royal jelly is known to have a powerful antibacterial effect, which helps keep wounds clean and prevents infection.18
An animal study also found an increase in the production of collagen in rats who were given an extract of royal jelly.19 Collagen is an important structural protein that is critical for repairing the skin. A test-tube study also found that human cells that were treated with royal jelly showed dramatically enhanced tissue repair capability.20
However, a 2015 human study failed to find any difference in wound healing capabilities in a control group and participants who were given royal jelly topically for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.21
So while many studies have confirmed the positive effects of royal jelly on boosting the production of collagen and other proteins involved in tissue repair, more research is still needed.
Royal Jelly And Menopause Symptoms
Royal jelly has been found to provide relief from the symptoms of menopause. A 2011 study investigated the impact of a combination of four naturally occurring ingredients, including royal jelly, on the symptoms of menstruation. The research team gave 120 women participants either a placebo or a capsule containing the four natural ingredients twice a day for a period of four weeks.22 The study found that the women in both groups experienced a reduction in their menstrual symptoms, but the group that took the capsule containing royal jelly had dramatically better results than those in the placebo group.
A 2016 study found that taking just 150 milligrams of royal jelly every day for over three months can help improve the cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.23
Royal Jelly and Symptoms Of Premenstrual Syndrome
Royal jelly is also believed to benefit women with premenstrual syndrome. A 2014 study gave 110 participants either a placebo or a capsule of royal jelly once each day for a period of two menstrual cycles. The women who used the royal jelly capsules were found to experience a significant relief in their premenstrual syndrome symptoms over the two month period.24
Royal Jelly Can Benefit In Type 2 Diabetes
Aside from all the health benefits already discussed, there is also some evidence that shows that royal jelly may benefit people with type 2 diabetes as well.
One study with 50 women with type 2 diabetes gave the participants either a placebo or one gram dose of royal jelly gel once a day for a period of eight weeks. At the end of the study, the results indicated that the women taking royal jelly experienced a decrease in the level of blood glucose. For people with type 2 diabetes, having lower glucose levels in the bloodstream is considered to be beneficial.25
However, there is a need for studies with a larger number of participants of both genders to confirm these results.
Are There Any Risks Of Taking Royal Jelly?
Since royal jelly is a potent supplement, you should not take it without consulting your doctor first. You should also not take royal jelly if you are already taking other supplements.
Since it is derived from honey bees, royal jelly may cause a variety of allergic reactions in some people. These can range from contact dermatitis to more severe anaphylaxis. This is why it is always recommended that you never take it without asking your doctor. Discontinue using the supplement if you experience any type of allergic reaction.
There is no research to indicate what are the effects of royal jelly on pregnant or breastfeeding women. So if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is better to avoid taking royal jelly and look for an alternative.
Like any supplements, royal jelly may interact with other medications you are on. You should always consult your doctor before including royal jelly in your diet so as to prevent any potential interactions.
- Pasupuleti, V.R., Sammugam, L., Ramesh, N. and Gan, S.H., 2017. Honey, propolis, and royal jelly: a comprehensive review of their biological actions and health benefits. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2017.
- Viuda-Martos, M., Pérez-Alvarez, J.A. and Fernández-López, J., 2017. Royal jelly: Health benefits and uses in medicine. In Bee Products-Chemical and Biological Properties (pp. 199-218). Springer, Cham.
- Viuda‐Martos, M., Ruiz‐Navajas, Y., Fernández‐López, J. and Pérez‐Álvarez, J.A., 2008. Functional properties of honey, propolis, and royal jelly. Journal of food science, 73(9), pp.R117-R124.
- Fao.org. 2021. Value-added products from beekeeping. Chapter 6.. [online] Available at: <http://www.fao.org/3/w0076e/w0076e16.htm> [Accessed 31 January 2021].
- López-Gutiérrez, N., del Mar Aguilera-Luiz, M., Romero-González, R., Vidal, J.L.M. and Frenich, A.G., 2014. Fast analysis of polyphenols in royal jelly products using automated TurboFlow™-liquid chromatography–Orbitrap high resolution mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography B, 973, pp.17-28.
- Cornara, L., Biagi, M., Xiao, J. and Burlando, B., 2017. Therapeutic properties of bioactive compounds from different honeybee products. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, p.412.
- Lercker, G., Capella, P., Conte, L.S., Ruini, F. and Giordani, G., 1981. Components of royal jelly: I. Identification of the organic acids. Lipids, 16(12), pp.912-919.
- Kocot, J., Kiełczykowska, M., Luchowska-Kocot, D., Kurzepa, J. and Musik, I., 2018. Antioxidant potential of propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly: possible medical application. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2018.
- Chen, Y.F., Wang, K., Zhang, Y.Z., Zheng, Y.F. and Hu, F.L., 2016. In vitro anti-inflammatory effects of three fatty acids from royal jelly. Mediators of inflammation, 2016. You, M.M., Chen, Y.F., Pan, Y.M., Liu, Y.C., Tu, J., Wang, K. and Hu, F.L., 2018. Royal jelly attenuates LPS-induced inflammation in BV-2 microglial cells through modulating NF-κB and p38/JNK signaling pathways. Mediators of inflammation, 2018.
- Susilowati, H., Murakami, K., Yumoto, H., Amoh, T., Hirao, K., Hirota, K., Matsuo, T. and Miyake, Y., 2017. Royal jelly inhibits Pseudomonas aeruginosa adherence and reduces excessive inflammatory responses in human epithelial cells. BioMed research international, 2017.
- Kashima, Y., Kanematsu, S., Asai, S., Kusada, M., Watanabe, S., Kawashima, T., Nakamura, T., Shimada, M., Goto, T. and Nagaoka, S., 2014. Identification of a novel hypocholesterolemic protein, major royal jelly protein 1, derived from royal jelly. PloS one, 9(8), p.e105073.
- Pan, Y., Xu, J., Chen, C., Chen, F., Jin, P., Zhu, K., Hu, C.W., You, M., Chen, M. and Hu, F., 2018. Royal jelly reduces cholesterol levels, ameliorates Aβ pathology and enhances neuronal metabolic activities in a rabbit model of Alzheimer’s disease. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, p.50.
- Chiu, H.F., Chen, B.K., Lu, Y.Y., Han, Y.C., Shen, Y.C., Venkatakrishnan, K., Golovinskaia, O. and Wang, C.K., 2017. Hypocholesterolemic efficacy of royal jelly in healthy mild hypercholesterolemic adults. Pharmaceutical biology, 55(1), pp.497-502.
- Morita, H., Ikeda, T., Kajita, K., Fujioka, K., Mori, I., Okada, H., Uno, Y. and Ishizuka, T., 2012. Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers. Nutrition journal, 11(1), pp.1-7.
- Fan, P., Han, B., Feng, M., Fang, Y., Zhang, L., Hu, H., Hao, Y., Qi, Y., Zhang, X. and Li, J., 2016. Functional and proteomic investigations reveal major royal jelly protein 1 associated with anti-hypertension activity in mouse vascular smooth muscle cells. Scientific reports, 6(1), pp.1-13.
- Sun, Y., Han, M., Shen, Z., Huang, H. and Miao, X., 2018. Anti-hypertensive and cardioprotective effects of a novel apitherapy formulation via upregulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α and-γ in spontaneous hypertensive rats. Saudi journal of biological sciences, 25(2), pp.213-219.
- Fratini, F., Cilia, G., Mancini, S. and Felicioli, A., 2016. Royal Jelly: An ancient remedy with remarkable antibacterial properties. Microbiological Research, 192, pp.130-141.
- Park, H.M., Cho, M.H., Cho, Y. and Kim, S.Y., 2012. Royal jelly increases collagen production in rat skin after ovariectomy. Journal of medicinal food, 15(6), pp.568-575.
- Kim, J., Kim, Y., Yun, H., Park, H., Kim, S.Y., Lee, K.G., Han, S.M. and Cho, Y., 2010. Royal jelly enhances migration of human dermal fibroblasts and alters the levels of cholesterol and sphinganine in an in vitro wound healing model. Nutrition research and practice, 4(5), p.362.
- Siavash, M., Shokri, S., Haghighi, S., Shahtalebi, M.A. and Farajzadehgan, Z., 2015. The efficacy of topical royal jelly on healing of diabetic foot ulcers: a double‐blind placebo‐controlled clinical trial. International wound journal, 12(2), pp.137-142.
- Yakoot, M., Salem, A. and Omar, A.M., 2011. Effectiveness of a herbal formula in women with menopausal syndrome. Complementary Medicine Research, 18(5), pp.264-268.
- Lambrinoudaki, I., Augoulea, A., Rizos, D., Politi, M., Tsoltos, N., Moros, M., Chinou, I., Graikou, K., Kouskouni, E., Kambani, S. and Panoulis, K., 2016. Greek-origin royal jelly improves the lipid profile of postmenopausal women. Gynecological Endocrinology, 32(10), pp.835-839.
- Taavoni, S., Barkhordari, F., Goushegir, A. and Haghani, H., 2014. Effect of Royal Jelly on premenstrual syndrome among Iranian medical sciences students: A randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled study. Complementary therapies in medicine, 22(4), pp.601-606.
- Pourmoradian, S., Mahdavi, R., Mobasseri, M., Faramarzi, E. and Mobasseri, M., 2014. Effects of royal jelly supplementation on glycemic control and oxidative stress factors in type 2 diabetic female: a randomized clinical trial. Chinese journal of integrative medicine, 20(5), pp.347-352.