Royal jelly

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid, amino acids, apilak, apisin, B vitamins, bee royal jelly, bee saliva, bee spit, bidro, biotin, carbohydrates, dipeptide YY, DNA, enzymes, flavonoids, gelée royale (French), gelatin, glycoprotein, honey bee milk, honey bee’s milk, honeybee royal jelly, honeybee royal jelly-derived collagen production-promoting factor, honeybees (Apis mellifera), hormones, inositol, jalea real (Spanish), jelleines, lait des abeilles (French), lipids, lyophilized royal mletsitse, major royal jelly protein 3, MEL 174 (final water extract of RJ), MEL 247 (dry powder of RJ), minerals, natural royal jelly. neopterin, organic acid glycosides (monoglucosides of 10-hydroxy-2E-decenoic and 10-hydroxydecanoic acids), peptides, protein, RNA, royal bee jelly, royalisin, sterols (including (24Z)-stigmasta-5,24(28)-dien-3beta-ol-7-one, (24Z)-stigmasta-5,24(28)-diene-3beta,7beta-diol, (24Z)-stigmasta-5,24(28)-diene-3beta,7alpha-diol, and (24Z)-stigmast-24(28)-ene-3beta,5alpha,6beta-triol), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E.

  • Combination products: Pedyphar® (natural royal jelly and panthenol in an ointment base), Melbrosia® (pollen, perga [fermented pollen], hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose, lyophilized royal mletsitse [royal jelly], acerola extract), Lady 4 (evening primrose oil, damiana, ginseng, royal jelly).

Background

  • Royal jelly is a substance that is made in the glands of young nurse worker bees (Apis mellifera). It is used to feed their queen bee and expand her life span over that of other bees. Royal jelly is a milky white liquid that contains many nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals.

  • Royal jelly is often used to improve general health. It has also been used to treat stomach and hormonal problems, as well as to reduce symptoms of aging and improve mood. Royal jelly has been used to decrease inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It can sometimes be found in cosmetic products for skin problems.

  • There is a lack of evidence supporting the use of royal jelly for any medical condition.

  • Royal jelly should be avoided in people who have asthma or any existing allergies, due to the high risk of an allergic reaction.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diabetic foot ulcers

Some evidence suggests that an ointment containing royal jelly may help heal diabetic foot ulcers. More research on the effects of royal jelly alone is needed.

Exercise performance

Although it has not been well studied in humans, animal research suggests that the use of royal jelly combined with other agents may help improve exercise performance. More research is needed.

High cholesterol

Early research suggests that royal jelly may reduce cholesterol levels. However, available studies are of poor quality, and the findings are still unclear. More well-designed research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Male infertility

Some evidence suggests that applying Egyptian bee honey and royal jelly to the vagina may improve pregnancy rates in women undergoing artificial insemination due to their partners’ infertility. Further research is needed on the effects of royal jelly alone.

Menopause

Early research suggests that herbal products containing royal jelly may improve menopause symptoms. Menopausal women who used Melbrosia® reported reduced discomfort. More research is needed on the effect of royal jelly alone.

Hay fever

Research suggests that Bidro, a royal jelly product, may lack effect on hay fever prevention or treatment in children. Severe allergic reaction to royal jelly has been shown in numerous reports. More study on the safety of royal jelly is needed.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abnormal heart rhythms, adrenal gland stimulation, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, antibiotic, antioxidant, antiviral, anxiety, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, bone density, bone fractures, burns, cancer, chemotherapy side effects, cognitive enhancement, common cold, cosmetic uses, depression, diabetes, endocrine disorders, eye disorders, fatigue, growth, hair tonic, heart disease, high blood pressure, immune function, infections, inflammation, kidney disease, liver protection, malnutrition, mood, nerve disorders, overall well being, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), Parkinson’s disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), quality of life, shivering (feeling cold), skin problems, sleep disorders, strength, stress, systemic lupus erythematosus (autoimmune disorder of joints and organs), ulcers, vasodilator (widens blood vessels), warts, weight loss, wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Some sources report that a small spoonful of royal jelly may be taken fresh daily.

  • To treat high cholesterol, 30-150 milligrams of royal jelly has been taken by mouth daily for 4-6 weeks. A dose of 30 milligrams of royal jelly has been placed under the tongue. A dose of 10 grams of refrigerated royal jelly has been taken by mouth daily for 14 days. Doses of 10-100 milligrams of royal jelly have been injected daily for 3-11 weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • To treat hay fever, 150 milligrams of royal jelly has been taken by mouth in the form of capsules, twice daily for 3-6 months during pollen season.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid if allergic or sensitive to royal jelly, honey, or other bee products. Royal jelly may be harmful to people who are allergic to bee stings, honey, mugwort, or ragweed pollen. Royal jelly taken by mouth should be avoided by those allergic to bee pollen, honey, or conifer and poplar trees.

  • Asthma, bloody urine, changes in heart rhythm, death, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, dizziness, eczema, facial swelling, heart palpitations, hives, itching, loss of consciousness, lung muscle spasms, nose irritation, numbness, shortness of breath, skin inflammation, skin redness, skin welts, swelling under the skin, and wheezing have been reported with royal jelly use.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Royal jelly is possibly safe in healthy adults in commonly used doses.

  • Use cautiously in people who have heart disease or those taking drugs or herbs and supplements that may lower blood pressure or reduce cholesterol. Royal jelly may lower blood pressure and increase triglyceride levels.

  • Royal jelly may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in people who have skin disorders.

  • Royal jelly may affect insulin levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect insulin and/or blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in people who have stomach disorders. Royal jelly may cause bloody diarrhea, intestinal swelling, stomach inflammation, stomach pain, and upset stomach.

  • Use cautiously in people who have nervous system disorders. Royal jelly may affect the central nervous system and cause sleep problems.

  • Use cautiously in people who have eye disorders. Royal jelly may cause eye inflammation.

  • Use cautiously in people who have mental disorders. Royal jelly may cause agitation and anxiety.

  • Use cautiously in people who have hormonal disorders or those taking hormonal agents. Royal jelly may affect hormone levels.

  • Use cautiously in people who have immune disorders or those taking agents that affect the immune system.

  • Use cautiously in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information.

  • Avoid in people who have asthma or other respiratory diseases.

  • Avoid in those allergic or sensitive to royal jelly, honey, other bee products, bee stings, ragweed, mugwort, wheat or yeast, or conifer or poplar trees, or in those with any other known previous allergies.

  • Avoid using royal jelly that has not been preserved. Bacterial contamination is possible with raw royal jelly.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of royal jelly during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Royal jelly may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Royal jelly may affect insulin levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may affect insulin or blood sugar levels. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Royal jelly may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

  • Royal jelly may also interact with agents that may affect blood vessel width, agents that may affect the nervous system, agents that may improve exercise performance, agents that may protect against radiation, agents that may protect the liver, agents that may treat abnormal heart rhythms, agents that may treat heart disorders, agents that may treat lung disorders, agents that may treat mental disorders, antiallergy agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatories, cholesterol-lowering agents, corticoids, eye agents, growth agents, hormonal agents, immune agents, menopausal agents, skin agents, stomach agents, warfarin, and wound-healing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Royal jelly may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Royal jelly may affect insulin levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may affect insulin or blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Royal jelly may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.

  • Royal jelly may also interact with antiallergy agents, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, ginseng, herbs and supplements that may affect blood vessel width, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that may improve exercise performance, herbs and supplements that may promote growth, herbs and supplements that may protect against radiation, herbs and supplements that may protect the liver, herbs and supplements that may treat abnormal heart rhythms, herbs and supplements that may treat eye disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat heart disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat lung disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat mental disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat skin disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat stomach disorders, honey, hormonal herbs and supplements, menopausal herbs and supplements, and wound-healing herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Boukraa L and Sulaiman SA. Rediscovering the antibiotics of the hive. Recent Pat Antiinfect.Drug Discov. 2009;4(3):206-213. View Abstract
  2. Calli C, Tugyan K, Oncel S, et al. Effectiveness of Royal Jelly on Tympanic Membrane Perforations: An Experimental Study. Journal of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. 2008;37(2):179-184.
  3. Cherniack EP. Bugs as drugs, Part 1: Insects: the “new” alternative medicine for the 21st century? Altern.Med.Rev. 2010;15(2):124-135. View Abstract
  4. El-Fiky S, Othman E, Balabel E, et al. The Protective Role of Royal Jelly Against Mutagenic Effect of driamycin and Gamma Radiation Separately and in Combination. Trends in Applied Sciences Research. 2008;3(4):303-318.
  5. Harada S, Moriyama T, and Tanaka A. [Two cases of royal jelly allergy provoked the symptoms at the time of their first intake]. Arerugi 2011;60(6):708-713. View Abstract
  6. Hayakawa K, Katsumata N, Hirano M, et al. Determination of biotin (vitamin H) by the high-performance affinity chromatography with a trypsin-treated avidin-bound column. J.Chromatogr.B Analyt.Technol.Biomed.Life Sci. 6-15-2008;869(1-2):93-100. View Abstract
  7. Katayama M, Aoki M, and Kawana S. Case of anaphylaxis caused by ingestion of royal jelly. J.Dermatol. 2008;35(4):222-224. View Abstract
  8. King DS, Baskerville R, Hellsten Y, et al. A-Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance-Part 34. Br.J.Sports Med. 2012;46(9):689-690. View Abstract
  9. Mizutani Y, Shibuya Y, Takahashi T, et al. Major royal jelly protein 3 as a possible allergen in royal jelly-induced anaphylaxis. J.Dermatol. 2011;38(11):1079-1081. View Abstract
  10. Morita H, Ikeda T, Kajita K, et al. Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers. Nutr.J. 2012;11:77. View Abstract
  11. Munstedt K, Henschel M, Hauenschild A, et al. Royal jelly increases high density lipoprotein levels but in older patients only. J.Altern.Complement Med. 2009;15(4):329-330. View Abstract
  12. Suzuki KM, Isohama Y, Maruyama H, et al. Estrogenic activities of Fatty acids and a sterol isolated from royal jelly. Evid.Based.Complement Alternat.Med. 2008;5(3):295-302. View Abstract
  13. Viuda-Martos M, Ruiz-Navajas Y, Fernandez-Lopez J, et al. A. Functional properties of honey, propolis, and royal jelly. J.Food Sci. 2008;73(9):R117-R124. View Abstract
  14. Yakoot M, Salem A, and Omar AM. Effectiveness of a herbal formula in women with menopausal syndrome. Forsch.Komplementmed. 2011;18(5):264-268. View Abstract
  15. Yamada N and Yoshimura H. [Determinants of chilliness among young women and their application to psychopharmacological trials]. Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi 2009;29(5-6):171-179. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.