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Royal Jelly

What Should I Know About It?

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Updated January 18, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Royal jelly is a substance secreted by honeybees. Available in dietary supplement form, royal jelly contains vitamins, amino acids, protein, and other nutrients. Proponents claim that royal jelly can help treat a variety of health problems.

Uses for Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is touted as a natural remedy for the following conditions:

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

Benefits of Royal Jelly

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

1) Inflammation

Royal jelly may help reduce inflammation (a biological process closely linked to a wide range of health problems), according to a 2004 study from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. In tests on cells, researchers discovered that royal jelly may slow the body's production of inflammation-promoting substances.

2) Diabetes

Royal jelly shows promise in the treatment of diabetes, suggests a preliminary study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009. In tests on 20 healthy volunteers, the study's authors found that ingestion of royal jelly helped decrease blood sugar levels.

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

3) Fatigue

Preliminary research indicates that royal jelly may fight fatigue. In a 2001 study from the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, for instance, tests on mice determined that royal jelly may protect against fatigue induced by physical activity.

4) High Blood Pressure

In a study published in the Japanese journal Acta Medica Okayama in 2009, a rat-based experiment found that royal jelly may have blood-pressure-lowering properties similar to those of ACE inhibitors (a class of drugs commonly used in treatment of high blood pressure).

5) Osteoporosis

An animal-based study published in Joint Diseases & Related Surgery in 2012 suggests that royal jelly may help fight osteoporosis. In tests on rats, researchers found that royal jelly may help increase bone levels of calcium and phosphate and protect against osteoporosis-related bone loss.

Safety

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the long-term 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.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) with royal jelly, and avoiding or delaying standard care, may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of royal jelly in treatment of a chronic condition, be sure to consult your primary care provider first.

Where to Find Royal Jelly

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

Sources

Kafadar IH, Güney A, Türk CY, Oner M, Silici S. "Royal jelly and bee pollen decrease bone loss due to osteoporosis in an oophorectomized rat model." Eklem Hastalik Cerrahisi. 2012;23(2):100-5.

Kamakura M, Mitani N, Fukuda T, Fukushima M. "Antifatigue effect of fresh royal jelly in mice." J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Dec;47(6):394-401.

Kohno K, Okamoto I, Sano O, Arai N, Iwaki K, Ikeda M, Kurimoto M. "Royal jelly inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines by activated macrophages." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2004 Jan;68(1):138-45.

Münstedt K, Bargello M, Hauenschild A. "Royal jelly reduces the serum glucose levels in healthy subjects." J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1170-2. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0289.

Takaki-Doi S, Hashimoto K, Yamamura M, Kamei C. "Antihypertensive activities of royal jelly protein hydrolysate and its fractions in spontaneously hypertensive rats." Acta Med Okayama. 2009 Feb;63(1):57-64.

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