Bees make smooth, creamy royal jelly to feed queen bee larvae. For hundreds of years, humans have used bee products — beeswax, honey, and royal jelly — to treat health issues, and today, science backs up many traditional benefits of royal jelly.
Royal jelly is very nutritious. It is approximately 70% water, 15% protein, 15% carbohydrates, 6% fats, and 3% vitamins, salts, and 29 amino acids, including all those considered essential for humans. Royal jelly also contains several B vitamins and polyphenols packed with antioxidants. Studies suggest long-term use of royal jelly supplements can help stabilize glucose levels to manage diabetes.
Many wound care products incorporate honey, and royal jelly may have similar benefits. Fibroblasts are cells that produce collagen and other proteins for skin cell repair. Fibroblast migration to a wound usually peaks 24 hours after the injury occurs. The royal jelly significantly increases the rate of fibroblast migration to a wound. Research has also identified increased levels of healing lipids around wounds after an application.
Bifidobacteria and Probiotics
Royal jelly is a rich source of bifidobacteria, which helps maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract in the same manner as a probiotic. Bifidobacteria may also enhance the immune system. In dosages of 100 to 300 milligrams, royal jelly has antibacterial effects against many food-borne bacteria that cause illness. Several enzymes necessary for digestion, such as glucose oxidase, are in royal jelly. Some manufacturers are experimenting with adding the product to yogurts and cheese.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties and Arthritis Relief
Royal jelly is used in Japan to treat periodontal disease, and many supplements are marketed for arthritis relief. Herbal supplements in the United States are not regulated by the FDA, however. Though the claims are not guaranteed by any medical association, many people report less pain, swelling, and stiffness as symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis after taking supplements for a couple of weeks. Some proponents of royal jelly claim it is effective for rheumatoid arthritis due to the combination of anti-inflammatory properties and immune system benefits.
Approximately 90% of lipids in royal jelly are hydroxyl or dicarboxylic-free fatty acids that fight inflammation and oxidative cell damage, which could give the product anti-cancer effects. Breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers are associated with endogenous hormones such as estrogen. Royal jelly suppresses the production of many endogenous hormones, and it has structural similarities to estrogen. The anti-cancer effects appear to stem from this combination of factors.
Royal jelly has properties that could help regulate skin photoaging after exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the sun. Exposure can cause sunburn and melanoma and could negatively affect vision and the immune system, as well. The collagen content and thickness of the outer layer of skin is greater in people who use skin products containing royal jelly. Extra collagen protects skin from the sun and the effects of aging. People taking royal jelly extract frequently have higher levels of procollagen type I and matrix metalloproteinase, proteins involved in skin cell repair.
Royal jelly and bee pollen could help reduce bone loss from osteoporosis. Some people taking these supplements experience increased bone calcium and phosphate levels. Royal jelly may have positive effects on bone health in the lumbar spine, too. Estrogen is important in bone metabolism, especially in women, and medications that offset estrogen loss during menopause often have negative side effects. Royal jelly contains phytoestrogens, those natural substances that mimic the effects of estrogen. Phytoestrogens have benefits similar to artificial estrogen, without negative side effects.
Royal jelly supplements are sold as fertility aids in Japan, the United States, South America, and Europe. Royal jelly has many properties of phytoestrogen for uterine health. Royal jelly is also rich in amino acids, medium-chain fatty acids, vitamins D and E, iron, and calcium. All of these nutrients are necessary for healthy hormone levels and ovulation. Royal jelly supports the production of approximately queen bee eggs each day. While it is impossible to compare human and insect fertility, many women feel encouraged thinking about the amazing ability of one queen bee to produce an entire colony.
Improves Brain Health and Cognitive Function
Royal jelly may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The antioxidants it contains protect fatty acids in brain tissue from free radical damage, and other nutrients help treat chemical imbalances that lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. Royal jelly is a natural source of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which regulates memory storage and retrieval, transmits messages between nerve cells, and enhances cognitive function.
Relief of Menopausal Symptoms
Taking royal jelly for at least three months can increase high-density lipoprotein or HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol, which could benefit menopausal women. Some research shows that taking 800 milligrams of royal jelly per day for 12 weeks reduces menopausal symptoms, including anxiety, backache, bloating, and vaginal inflammation. The relief of menopausal symptoms may also come from royal jelly’s influence on estrogen and other hormones.