What is Royal Jelly?

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  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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Royal jelly is a secretion that worker bees produce to feed larvae and the queen in a honey bee hive. This special food is extremely powerful, rich, and nutritious to bees, so people have assumed that it will offer some of the same benefits to humans. It purportedly treats a wide variety of ailments as a dietary supplement.

The queen bee is the leader of the colony and the only one allowed to reproduce. She can be fertilized and lay eggs just a few times during her entire life. Worker bees, the ones that collect nectar from flowers, are able to excrete a creamy, special food from glands on their head. The queen subsists entirely on this food. When eggs turn into larvae, the baby bees also eat this special food, nicknamed royal jelly, for two to three days. From their vulnerable state, they quickly develop into healthy and large bees.

People noticed the almost miraculous effects that royal jelly has on bees and ascribed to it extraordinary powers since the queen lives 60 times as long as a drone and is usually twice as heavy. As a result, people began harvesting this substance from hives, and sold it as a nutritional elixir that promised robust health, healing, and extended youthfulness.


Among the long list of ailments that royal jelly is said to improve or cure are high cholesterol, arthritis, weak kidneys, fatigue, nervousness, sallow or rashy skin, thin or brittle hair, high blood pressure, allergies, and sexual dysfunction. Scientists know that it is mostly carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, and fats, along with vitamins like the B complex, niacin, folic acid, and enzymes. None of these minerals or vitamins appears to be unique to the substance.

As a health tonic, royal jelly is sold as capsules or pills to be ingested on a daily basis. Since it is rare and difficult to collect from hives, it can be quite expensive. It is not a regulated medicine and has never been shown, through scientific studies on humans, to have any health benefits. A few studies on mice leave open the possibility that it can lower cholesterol, however.

A very important point to take into account before anyone begins consuming this substance is that, since it is related to honey, bee pollen, and bee stings, it can cause extremely strong allergic reactions. People who do not know if they are allergic to bees or bee products should consult a medical professional for an allergy test. Otherwise, an allergic individual may develop rashes, swollen throat, asthma-like symptoms, bronchial inflammation, congestion, or other symptoms that could become quite serious.


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Post 16

I know everybody is different but I am able to take royal jelly and eat honey even though I am allergic to bees. I have an allergic reaction if I get stung, but have never had any problems using any of the products they make.

I had a beekeeper tell me that all of the worker bees and the queen are fed royal jelly but the queen is fed massive amounts of it. I take royal jelly in a capsule so really don't know what the jelly itself tastes like. All I can say is my arthritis symptoms have been a lot less since I started taking this as a supplement.

Post 15

@andee -- Even though royal jelly is not regulated I think the source would make a big difference. My husband and I have a few honeybee hives and I personally know how difficult it can be to collect royal jelly from the hive.

If you know the source of where you are getting your royal jelly or trust the company who is selling it, I think you may see better results. I would shy away from a source that sold it very cheap or you aren't familiar with.

There are a lot of health benefits from taking natural royal jelly and I have been taking it for several years now. All of the products from the honeybee hive, including honey and pollen are good for you, but I think royal jelly has the biggest benefit.

Post 14

I have been taking some royal jelly vitamins for about 2 months and haven't really noticed a difference. I was hoping for some extra energy, but don't think it has done much good for me. I wonder if there is a difference in the quality of royal jelly someone is taking. I bought this at a drugstore but am wondering if taking organic royal jelly from a health food store would be better?

Post 13

@anon168712 -- I am glad to hear you have noticed increased energy taking royal jelly. I have seen this company you mentioned advertised in magazines and have often thought about ordering some.

I would love to find something that gets me though the afternoon lull. Every day about 2:00 pm I feel like I need a nap and find myself dragging along. If taking a royal jelly supplement really does give more energy I think it would be worth a try.

Post 12

I was introduced to royal jelly when I was 17. I am now 52. I purchased it at walmart, and take 500mg soft gels and took up to six a day for years. I quit two years ago when I went through a divorce only because money was tight. I am just now experiencing menopause symptoms. My sister, who never took it, went through the change in her mid 40's. I am thinking it was a mistake to stop taking it! I started again today!

Post 11

Been taking it for year from Beealive co. It gives me energy in the afternoon to keep going. Generally friends who have tried agree to the rise in energy level. All other claims, I would say are unfounded and indeed, are not necessarily true. they have to be proven. Only China has done studies to recognize any benefits and approve of its use.

Here in the US scientists are bound and determined to make drugs with known side effects.

I never take drugs not even aspirin but eat well, little meat, stay in shape and I am healthy at 62. I have taken royal jelly for over 10 years. --lea k.

Post 10

That is so ridiculous. Royal jelly is not dangerous to women. I am trying to get pregnant and both my GP and specialist recommended it. They told me that it can be taken every day.

Post 9

my daughter bought my mother some royal jelly to use and she says she can't use it as she has had breast cancer. can you tell me this if this is true, as i can't see how royal jelly would affect her? she says it's the alcohol in it?

Post 8

heard royal jelly aids in women in menopause who don't have sex desire. Does it help increase desire?

Post 6

Follow up on reply to anon 1110:

According to "A Theoretical Insight into the Interaction of Fatty Acids Involved in Royal Jelly with the Human Estrogen Receptor" β

Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan, Vol. 81 (2008), No. 10 pp.1258-1266, royal jelly's fatty acids are thought to interact with estrogen receptors (hence the menopausal relief, etc), but are not nor do not contain estrogen. This interaction is theoretical and has yet to be demonstrated in human studies. So: no estrogen, possible estrogenic properties due to interaction with estrogen receptors in the person/animal.

Post 5

To Anon1110 - There are studies that royal jelly inhibits vascularization to tumors. I haven't seen anything about it increasing cancer risks, nor have I seen anything about it having high estrogen levels. What is your source of information?

Post 4

the person above (anon1110) who claims that royal jelly can cause breast and ovarian cancer -- where is that stated? as far as i know there's been no study finding that royal jelly can cause cancer.

also, about the article in general, studies have been made with people.

Post 3

so royal jelly is dangerous for women but in men, it could help with erectile dysfunction. is it good for diabetics?

Post 1

royal jelly has high in estrogen can cause breast cancer or ovarian cancer

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