Royal Jelly, the superfood
If we were to attempt to choose, among all foods, the most complete that nature can provide, probably the one that would gain more votes would be, for sure, royal jelly, due to its benefits and properties for human health.
There seems to be an agreement on the fact that it is, among all the known organic substances, the one that concentrates the greatest amount of biological quality nutrients. Its properties and supplies of energy, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, are simply unparalleled, both in quantity and quality.
What is royal jelly in a nutshell?
To put it briefly, it is no other than a natural nutritional supply from the bees’ larvae that come from the royal cells through the first three days of their free life, as well as from the queen of the hive during its five years of existence.
It comes from the secretion that is produced by specialized organs, called hypopharyngeal glands, which are located at the head of worker bees that have not reached 15 days of life. This substance is combined with digestive juices, and from this mixture comes this peculiar elixir of life that will allow the queen bee to prolong its longevity forty times more than the 45 days that a normal bee lives.
Within the hierarchical organization of this animal species that is so peculiar, it is quite significant that these larvae, during those three critical days of their existence, need royal jelly to multiply their weight in several scores. Once those days have passed, if they are going to be worker bees they will stop its consumption which will be replaced by a honey concentrate, pollen, and water, while those whose status holds the possibility to be queens maintain their consumption for life.
Evidently, the previous information corresponds to a natural biological process that is developed within the beekeeping colony. In order to increase the production of royal jelly for its human purchase and consumption, this process can be logically manipulated. The main one is to remove the bee queen from the colony, whose absence stimulates the worker bees to increase the intensity of the building of new royal cells with in order to develop queens, which are filled with royal jelly. It can be extracted after three days, but it has to be kept in mind that, for an efficient productive stimulus, there must be abundant pollen, honey, and water in the beehive.
Now, let’s deepen into the information about the process of royal jelly synthesis. The hypopharyngeal glands of these young bees are programmed to synthesize 10-hydroxydecanoic-acid, while the others (which are also placed at the head), are mandibular glands, which produce a mixture of volatile fatty acids, among them the main ones are 9-hexadecanoic and octanoic acids; it seems that there is evidence that they participate, although not as much, in the synthesis of 10-hydroxydecanoic-acid.
Royal jelly is the result of the combination of the product from these two glands. In order to optimize it, the quantity and quality of the food of the bees are determinant, and pollen is its main limiting factor.
But there are other conditioning properties such as:
- The age of the bees.
- Season of the year: in fact, during winter, the glands enter a period of latency, which can be noticed in the biological quality of the jelly, which recovers once flowering season comes with the reactivation of the glands; the parameters that suffer a greater fluctuation are organic acids, which are the ones that settle the qualitative effects of jelly.
- A deficient manipulation or conservation. Moreover, the proportion of organic acids that is present in the product varies quite a lot depending on their aging.
- The air, the light, and high temperatures, that modify substantially its biological quality and its aspect due to the acceleration of the aging process. In general, it is characterized for its instability towards environmental conditions, which makes its short term conservation a very complicated task.
The origins of this spectacular food
The discovery of royal jelly can be dated at 1933; then, the German Nobel Prize Dr. F. Bergius, settled to carry out an analytical study of this product, but he found such a high level of complexity that he gave up soon. However, he was not satisfied with that decision, so he chose to experiment with himself, by establishing a routine of consumption in order to test its beneficial effects. The resolution, which was met with incredulity, was that he felt rejuvenated at the age of fifty, he recovered the sexual drive that he had during his youth, and experienced an improvement in his health overall.
But, even though Bergius had given up to carry out a methodological study of the properties of royal jelly, five years later, another scientist would carry on with his task. M. Boyer of Belvefer, designed a consistent investigation protocol of the jelly through its administration to dogs, pigs, and cats, in order to prove that the effects of said results were a mere placebo effect. However, he was utterly surprised when he witnessed the vitality and energy of his tested subjects. To the point that he included the members of his family into the group being tested, who gladly accepted to take part in the experiment, and who also obtained identical results.
However, royal jelly would have to wait until Papa Pío XII underwent a period of general weakness, bad health, and diseases. His doctor advised him to consume for some days a royal jelly extract, which once again proved its restorative and invigorating properties. The news of this event spread throughout the population, who learned about the benefits of this “miraculous” liquid. This is how its commercialization as a natural product began to be planned.
Conservation, physio-chemical characteristics and main substances
Fresh royal jelly without any modification, like the one you can find in the beehive, is a creamy substance that smells like milk, but which has an acid flavor with a certain spicy touch.
In order to preserve it in a perfect state, the best thing to do is to store it on an opaque glass recipient (not metal, whose contact can be aggressive towards the jelly); it must be completely filled in order to avoid leaving a thin air layer. Once packed, it must be stored at a constant temperature around 4ºC.
The main component of royal jelly is water (a 60%), with a very important role in terms of the percentage of lipids or fat, and proteins, which at the same time are made of a great amount of essential amino acids that are beneficial for our health, among which glycine and serine stand out.
But an essential part of this composition is the one made by vitamins, whose presence at the levels in which they are found in royal jelly is the most defining factor when compared to any other food, both of vegetable and animal origin. The most abundant are those from the hydro-soluble B complex, mainly B1 or thiamine B2 or riboflavin, B3 or nicotinamide, B5 or pantothenic acid, B7 or pyridoxine, B8 or biotin, and B9 or folic acid (pteroylglutamic). Minerals, on the other hand, are also notably relevant, with a clear abundance of calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, and copper.
Differences between the composition of honey and royal jelly
Although sometimes both beekeeping products are often considered to be the same when it comes to their nutritional profile, the differences between royal jelly and honey are quite remarkable in terms of their composition.
Honey comes from plants secretion that the bees pollinate which is called nectar. It is stored along pollen in the cells so that it will feed both the bee workers and the drones. Consequently, it does not have any proteins nor lipids, which are instead substituted by carbohydrates (fructose and glucose basically), its vitamin profile is slightly poorer when compared to royal jelly.
What is royal jelly for, what functions does it perform and what benefits are obtained from its consumption
Its overflowing richness in essential nutrients along with their synergistic action give royal jelly a qualitative importance; it performs the role of super food in nutritional situations that are on the edge, such as in children, sportspeople, and old people.
It is a matter that, maybe due to its singularity, has been investigated for a very long time, which has resulted in successive discoveries about its effects on human health and to treat diseases.
Consuming royal jelly provides the organism with a plus of energy and vitamins which is enormously useful if we wish to recover a good health or that needs to recover from disruptive situations, such as an intense physical effort, fatigue, asthenia, or a miscellany of triggers that generate apathy when it comes to confronting our daily routine with vitality. Precisely, this is the key word: vitality, the reason why royal jelly is considered a complete organic reinforcement since it even helps to support the immune defenses.
In infectious pathological situations, it has been proven that royal jelly helps with the bacteriostatic action (which controls bacterial growth) for which are responsible the 10-hydroxydecenoic and 10-hydroxydecanoic acids, which form part of the lipids structure.
The task of royal jelly to invigorate growth has been widely proven. Its cause has been attributed to its ability to trigger an intense oxygen consumption by the tissues, which accelerates cell metabolism.
There are three groups that specially stand out due to the fact that they are the target of royal jelly
The reality is that consuming royal jelly can be an excellent help for anyone, but it is even more helpful to those who are under one of these circumstances:
- Mental or physical fatigue symptoms
- Menopause and menstruation disorders
- Alterations of blood pressure
- Impotency and infertility
- Any kind of cardiovascular disturbance
- Any sign associated to a weakening of the immune system
- Neurological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been considered a super food and even, figuratively, a natural medicine (let’s not forget that it is not officially cataloged as such by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Sanitary Products). Royal Jelly has earned a place of privilege among natural and synthetic tools to reduce tiredness and combat depression, as well as menstrual and circulatory disorders, and the alterations of bad cholesterol or of low density lipoproteins.
Even though no human profile should be excluded from the possibility of benefiting from the properties of this excellent food, the truth is that royal jelly reaches its highest effects when it is applied to three groups of people:
- Those who need to enhance their memory, particularly students and old people. For them, this is one of the most radiant benefits provided by this substance. However, all of this implies to establish a rigorous consumption routine; it will be pointless if a student consumes a huge amount of royal jelly the night before an exam. It must be planned as a nutritional supplement according to short and long-term requirements.
- Those who suffer from blood pressure imbalances: both for those who experience sudden low or increased pressure without apparent cause, such as those who suffer from chronic hypertension; for these people, royal jelly fits like a tension buffer, it is one of the most recommended foods for these people.
- Women who are expecting to become pregnant: there are solid proofs that confirm that royal jelly helps to improve fertility. At the same time, even if these effects are more remarkable in women, royal jelly also affects the fertility of men. This is the reason why it would be advisable for both members to follow this supplementation as long as it is necessary. The best thing that a woman who wants to become pregnant can do is to consult a specialist in order to get all the necessary information about the modes of administration of royal jelly and its adequate dose.
A wide range of benefits of royal jelly to a greater or lesser degree
It stimulates the production of sexual hormones, testosterone in men and 17-beta-estradiol in women, which contributes to enhancing sexual desire and to the regulation of the endocrine activity. This is one of the reasons why its consumption is often recommended to control mentrual and postmenopausal disorders.
It also stimulates the production of hormones from the suprarenal glands, which makes it also suitable for the treatment of osteoarticular and muscle pathologies, such as arthritis, arthrosis, fibromyalgia, and the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Since it contains collagen, which is a protein that is all over the body and that is directly involved in the process of aging, the consumption of fresh or lyophilized royal jelly contributes to delay this process.
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the benefits of royal jelly in regard to facial features can be noticed in a reduction of the intensity of wrinkles and expression lines since it increases the elasticity of the epidermis and normalizes the secretion of the sebaceous glands.
It acts as a supplier of energy for the nervous system, which in principle seems to be related to an improvement in the oxygenation of the brain tissue. Another property of royal jelly that is related to this is its significant content in choline, which is the precursor form of acetyl-choline, a neurotransmitter that facilitates the transmission of nerve signals.
From this property we can see how royal jelly could help to relieve the symptoms of other disorders that affect the central nervous system, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, or multiple sclerosis, among other pathologies.
At the same time, other aspects of an emotional or intellectual character that are no longer related to a pathology would be involved as well, such as the state of mind, stress, concentration, and the our ability to remember things.
It stimulates the production of one of the main cell lines of white cells, lymphocytes, which reinforce the immune system in order to prevent and combat infections. This is the reason why it is frequently consumed exclusively in winter, even though it is not completely adequate.
Moreover, it has renowned antibiotic properties which make it the perfect complement for medicines that are often recommended for colds or flu and as an immune reinforcement for risk groups: children, old people, or inmunocompromised.
It intervenes in pathologies related to the digestive apparatus, it has the ability to normalize gastric problems and to stimulate weight gain in children born prematurely.
It is abundant in folic acid, one of the group B vitamins that stands out in its composition, and it grants royal jelly an important task in the synthesis of red cells in the bone marrow. This is the reason why it is recommended for those who suffer from anemia or as to prevent coronary diseases.
It is an invigorating factor in the recovery of tissues that have suffered functional alterations, since it acts on metabolic processes without affecting the physiological activity due to its richness in enzymes.
It is commonly recommended when we foresee times of maximum mental and physical activity, as well as in situations that cause more tiredness or apathy than normal (an example would be those people that are negatively affected by the coming of the spring or time changes).
It can also be regarded as a referent food due to its properties as an antioxidant agent, since numerous studies have pointed out to its influence when it comes to prolonging the decline of the organism that is caused by the passing of time and the regeneration of tissues.
Even though it has not been equally proven scientifically, its use to enhance the treatment of urine incontinence, the consolidation of callus in bone fractures and in several nutritional disorders is valued as well.
Different types of royal jelly that we can find
All the professionals involved in its production, commercialization, and prescription, which means beekeepers, dietitians, and pharmacists, among others, point to the existence of these types of royal jelly:
- Fresh royal jelly is the one found in is original state, which is this substance that reminds us of a frozen yogurt due to its aspect. It is made by the young worker bees that “manufacture” it by mixing the secretions of their respective glands with honey and pollen.
- Natural royal jelly is the one that is sold without being subjected to any chemical alteration nor to any addition of preservatives. This is why, in order to preserve its nutritional and therapeutic properties it has to be stored in a fridge at a constant temperature between 0 and 4 ºC.
- Lyophilized royal jelly is the one that has undergone lyophilization, which is a very common technological process in the nutrition and pharmaceutic industries. It consists on freezing the product under vacuum and without additives in order to achieve evaporation by sublimation (a transit from solid to gas without going through the liquid state). The final product is a thin and crystalline powder. This format triples its nutrient concentration compared to the levels of fresh and natural royal jelly; it is an excellent way to preserve all the properties of the fresh product by optimizing its volume and allowing its storage at room temperature. It is important for manufacturers and distributors to reach a biological certification by a competent authority in order to guarantee, among other things, the absence of antibiotics.
Some contraindications of royal jelly that must be taken into account
Before naming and giving information about some pathological situations in which it is not specially recommended to consume royal jelly, it is worth mentioning that, unlike with plenty of nutritional supplements, there has not been found any problem to consume it during pregnancy.
In general, these situations are the following:
- Migraines and recurrent headaches
- Addinson’s disease: a process that is normally generated by an aberration of the immune system (there can be other minor causes), which interferes in the function of the suprarenal glands, which manifest an inefficiency in the synthesis of hormones.
- Diabetes in case that it has sucrose, otherwise it can be consumed if the carbohydrates source is fructose or invert sugar.
- Logically, if the consumer has allergy to any of its components.
How and When should we consume royal jelly
First of all, we will say that, due to the fact that each day there are more products that come out of the factory enriched with royal jelly and honey and, specially due to wide variety of supplements that are sold in pharmacies, herbalist's shops, and specialized naturopathy shops, it is very easy to purchase royal jelly.
We want to emphasize the fact that royal jelly can be consumed at the same time than other medicines without fear, since it lacks interactions with them. In this way, we can profit from its influence in the revitalization of the cell metabolism that can be a great synergy with the pharmacological action.
In order to prevent common infectuous respiratory pathologies, it is better to adopt a disciplined consumption. If we think about classic colds and flu, it would be ideal to start its consumption at the end of summer, in order to prepare beforehand to the changes in temperature that tend to trigger the first symptoms.
For other situations such as feebleness, stress, or anemia, its use depends on the manifestation of these symptoms that reveal other problems. It is advised to consume it once this problems begin to appear.
Similarly, there is a difference between consuming this product in order to prevent something and knowing with certainty that something is going to happen, like students during exam period who require and extra mental effort or women who during their periods lose a lot of blood that lead to anemia.
Fresh royal jelly must be consumed in the morning before breakfast through a sublingual conduct, which means putting a little amount (a teaspoon) under the tongue, which is the way that allows a better absorption.
Royal jelly supplements: the multiple combinations of royal jelly, all of them are highly interesting
There are formulas where royal jelly is the main ingredient but it is complemented with others, among the most common ones are propolis, honey, vitamins, and minerals. These mixtures often come in vials of one dose or capsules, from which the most common thing is to take one daily on an empty stomach.
In any case, the effects of royal jelly can be noticed after a sustained consumption of only three or four weeks, as long as it is a supplement of a healthy diet that does not introduce other deficiencies.
Royal jelly with ginseng
This association deserved a special mention. Ginseng is a supplement of Korean origin which is completely natural and abundant in micronutrients overall.
This mixture is a classic that has been widely commercialized, normally in capsules or pills. In fact, it can be found in different formats in our online HSN shop.
It is ideal to confront critical moments that will demand remarkable efforts, such as exam periods, campaigns of hard physical work, etc. The most widespread use may be to consume this mixture for two months and to leave a month to rest in order to continue once again for two months.
Working in unison, royal jelly and ginseng trigger a quick restoration of the energy of the organism, which results in an improvement of the efficiency of the tasks that we carry out and delaying the symptoms of fatigue.
Everything will be fine as long as we avoid consuming royal jelly with ginseng before going to sleep, since they will not let us sleep due to their toning effect on all the body and the stimulus of the metabolic processes.
But a lot more can be said about this excellent combination in the field of dietetics and naturopathy:
- It helps to achieve a truly repairing sleep for those who suffer from a certain degree of insomnia. Due to a deep sleep, it can provide real rest to the mind and the muscles that will allow a better performance in the waking hours.
- There are several studies that inform about certain protection of the organism from harmful effects of chemical products and radiation. Logically, depending on the intensity of this protection, we should expect a reduction of the risk of suffering tumors, which is a very good reason to start its consumption if you have been subjected to electromagnetic radiations (for example, radiology tests) or if the person has undergone an intoxication.
- It contributes to lower the coloration caused by melanin in localized areas, which is quite useful to mask under-eye circles and anomalous pigmentation.
- It can also increase the production of collagen in the dermis or in the intermediate layer of the skin by toning it and making its texture more elastic.
A cautionary measure: before consuming royal jelly with ginseng, we must discard suffering from hypertension or a high coagulation time, which can be detected in any routine analysis.
Royal jelly with elder
The elder is a magnificent complement of royal jelly in order to mitigate throat ache and the symptoms of colds and flu in general. If elder is also incorporated to a mixture of honey and zinc, we will get an excellent cocktail which will have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties.
When it comes to planning the consumption of this combination, from which we can find powder, liquid vials, infusions, and capsules, we must consider several factors:
- In order to consume this complex in powder or infusion it is necessary to follow the recommended measures by the manufacturer in order to avoid an excess of the active ingredients of elder.
- Like its combination with ginseng, it is recommended to consume it in cycles of two months while leaving one to rest.
- Even though the best time to consume it cannot be determined, it is always preferable to do it in the morning on an empty stomach.
- The first time it should be taken the precaution to limit the dose to a very tiny teaspoon in order to discard any allergy to any of the substances of the mixture.
Other combinations that can be found as supplements are:
Royal jelly and ginseng, eleutherocous. green tea and vitamin cocktail
In order to overcome certain periods that demand a greater physical or mental overload.
Royal jelly with foods rich in lactic enzymes, inulin, propolis, and vitamin cocktail
For patients who have undergone pathological processes an surgery and, after the consumption of antibiotics in order to balance the bacterial intestinal flora.
Royal jelly with vitamins, selenium, and zinc
In order to optimize energy in a way that it will help to deal with tasks that demand a special effort.
Royal jelly with echinacea
It is perfect for those who are in their growth phase, for children who are weak or who lack appetite whose defenses must be reinforced, for example, at the beginning of winter.
Royal jelly with primrose oil, tryptophan, choline, lithium, and vitamin C
Take it in the evening in order to relax and to have a pleasant sleep.
If we focus on lyophilized royal jelly as a nutritional supplement, we can reduce its daily consumption between 250 and 500 mg for those with low or intermediate needs, dissolved in cold water or with a little concentrated honey solution.
For those who suffer chronic diseases that make them dependent from external supplies in order to maintain their health, the minimum amounts are from 500mg to 2 grams per day.
In general, it is recommended to consume it half an hour before breakfast.