Royal jelly is a milky substance produced by the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of nurse bees between their 5th and 15th days of age. All bee larvae are fed royal jelly for the first three days after being laid.  After that only the larvae designated to be the queen are fed royal jelly.  The components of royal jelly help the queen mature into a large, fertile and longer-living bee.  Worker bees live from 4-6 weeks, whereas the queen lives up to 6 years and lays 2.5 times her weight in eggs a day.  This is due to royal jelly’s powerful effects on the bee’s endocrine, hormonal, and metabolic systems. 

The Chinese are the world’s largest producers and consumers of royal jelly.  Royal jelly has played a key role in traditional Chinese medicine, and is still used today to prevent and ameliorate a wide variety of medical conditions.  These include, but are not limited to: anxiety, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, bone fractures, asthma, depression, fatigue, lack of sexual desire, hair loss, impotence, insomnia, liver and kidney disease, stomach ulcers, menopausal symptoms, varicose veins, a weak immune system, high and low blood pressure, and a variety of skin conditions.  Royal jelly, which is high in B vitamins, has a metabolic stimulating action, which aids in the processing of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.  It also increases oxygen consumption, improving endurance and decreasing fatigue.  As a powerful antioxidant, royal jelly decreases levels of free radicals which are thought to cause aging.  Royal jelly has a direct effect on the adrenal glands leading to an increased secretion of adrenaline which can be cardioprotective.  With its protective effects on the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune systems, it is no wonder royal jelly is a prized commodity in many cultures.     

The effects of royal jelly on specific conditions may be amplified when taken in combination with other bee products.   One recently discovered property of royal jelly is its ability to provide protection against the negative side effects of chemo and radiation therapies, especially when given with propolis.  This combination can also be used with positive effects for viral infections including shingles and hepatitis.

While there is still much to be learned about royal jelly, there are many recent studies from Europe and Asia which show how useful it can be.  A Japanese study found that royal jelly has an anti-fatigue effect in exercising mice.  In China and Russia, royal jelly was effective in treating chronic viral and bacterial infections, anorexia, varicose veins, and stomach ulcers.  During a flu epidemic in Yugoslavia, it was noted that those who consumed royal jelly daily were less likely to get the flu.  A study done in Egypt in 1995 revealed that royal jelly was capable of killing several kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.  In another study it was found that people taking 50-100 milligrams of royal jelly per day decreased total serum cholesterol by 14% and lipids by 10%.

Royal jelly helps promote collagen synthesis and is beginning to be found in many topical dermatologic products.  Royal jelly is also used in healing from prolotherapy treatments and other injuries.

(from material provided by Andrew Kochan, MD, 6-08)

An interesting article about Freezing Royal Jelly: