Royal Jelly is a viscous substance secreted by worker bees and constitutes the essential food for queen bees and their larvae. It is consumed as a health food around the world. It demonstrated vasodilatory, hypotensive, antihypercholesterolemic, antitumor, anti-inflammatory effects and estrogenic activity (1) (3) (9) but its affinity for estrogen receptors is weaker compared to diethylstilbestrol and phytoestrogens (3). Royal Jelly was shown to stimulate MCF-7 cell proliferation which was reversed by tamoxifen (3). It also stimulated the production of collagen as well as other actions needed for bone formation via its action on osteoblasts (4). Royal Jelly may be effective against colitis (10). Oral administration of royal jelly improved testostrerone levels in male rabbits (19).
Clinical studies have demonstrated that Royal Jelly lowered total serum lipid levels and total serum cholesterol in individuals with moderately elevated cholesterol levels (5).
Mid-cycle peri-coital intravaginal applications of a combination of Egyptian bee honey and Royal Jelly improved infertility due to idiopathic asthenozoospermia (2). In an uncontrolled prospective observational study, Royal Jelly improved menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women (6).
Because Royal Jelly has estrogenic effects, women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer should avoid this product; prostate cancer patients should also use caution as royal jelly increased testosterone levels in male rabbits.
- Menopausal symptoms
- Cholesterol management
- Male infertility
- Lipids — 3-7% ,
- Carbohydrates — 10-12%
- Proteins — 12-15%
- Water — 60-70%
- Traces of minerals and vitamins
Mechanism of Action
Royal Jelly has demonstrated vasodilatory, hypotensive, antihypercholesterolemic and anti-inflammatory effects. It has also shown weak estrogenic activity (1). Four compounds have been identified in Royal Jelly that exhibit estrogenic activity; 1-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid, 10-hydroxydecanoic acid, trans-2-decenoic acid and 24-methylenecholesterol. They inhibited the binding of estradiol to estrogen receptor beta but had little or no effects on binding to estrogen receptor alpha (4). Royal Jelly has been shown to inhibit the growth-promoting effects of the environmental estrogen bisphenol A on human breast cancer MCF-7 cells in-vitro (7). In-vitro studies also suggest that Royal Jelly stimulates the production of type 1 collagen as well as other actions needed for bone formation through its action on osteoblasts (4). The mechanism of action for the cholesterol-lowering effects of Royal Jelly is not yet known (5). It has previously been suggested that Royal Jelly decreases reabsorption of cholesterol in the GI tract and increases its excretion in the bile due to the presence of phytosterols, mainly B-sitosterol. Another explanation offered is that royal jelly suppresses hepatic cholesterol synthesis (8).
The pharmacokinetics of Royal jelly in humans have not been well documented.
Women with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer should avoid products containing Royal Jelly as they may stimulate the cancer.
- Side effects include anecdotal weight gain, facial rash and gastrointestinal discomfort (6).
- Several cases of anaphylaxis (11) (12) (13), asthma (14) (15) (16), and hemorrhagic colitis (17) have been reported with use of royal jelly.
- Cholesterol-lowering medications: Theoretically, royal jelly may have additive effects (5).
- Warfarin: Royal jelly can enhance its effects (18).
Herb Lab Interactions
- Royal Jelly lowered both the total and LDL cholesterol levels in humans (5).
- Royal Jelly increased prothrombin time and fibrinolytic activity in rats (8).
Literature Summary and Critique
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- 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. Sep 2008;5(3):295-302.
- Abdelhafiz AT, Muhamad JA. Midcycle pericoital intravaginal bee honey and royal jelly for male factor infertility. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. May 2008;101(2):146-149
- Mishima S, Suzuki KM, Isohama Y, et al.Royal jelly has estrogenic effects in vitro and in vivo.J Ethnopharmacol. Oct 3 2005;101(1-3):215-220.
- Miyata T. Pharmacological basis of traditional medicines and health supplements as curatives. J Pharmacol Sci. Feb 2007;103(2):127-131.
- Guo H, Saiga A, Sato M, et al. Royal jelly supplementation improves lipoprotein metabolism in humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). Aug 2007;53(4):345-348.
- Georgiev DB, Metka M, Huber JC, Goudev AR, Manassiev N. Effects of an herbal medication containing bee products on menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk markers: results of a pilot open-uncontrolled trial.MedGenMed. 2004;6(4):46.
- Nakaya M, Onda H, Sasaki K, Yukiyoshi A, Tachibana H, Yamada K. Effect of royal jelly on bisphenol A-induced proliferation of human breast cancer cells. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. Jan 2007;71(1):253-255.
- Vittek J. Effect of royal jelly on serum lipids in experimental animals and humans with atherosclerosis. Experientia. Sep 29 1995;51(9-10):927-935.
- Moutsatsou P, Papoutsi Z, Kassi E, et al. Fatty acids derived from royal jelly are modulators of estrogen receptor functions. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 22;5(12):e15594.
- Karaca T, Bayiroglu F, Yoruk M, et al. Effect of royal jelly on experimental colitis Induced by acetic acid and alteration of mast cell distribution in the colon of rats. Eur J Histochem. 2010 Oct 21;54(4):e35.
- Takahama H, Shimazu T. Food-induced anaphylaxis caused by ingestion of royal jelly. J Dermatol. 2006 Jun;33(6):424-6.
- Testi S, Cecchi L, Severino M, et al. Severe anaphylaxis to royal jelly attributed to cefonicid. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2007;17(4):281.
- Katayama M, Aoki M, Kawana S. Case of anaphylaxis caused by ingestion of royal jelly. J Dermatol. 2008 Apr;35(4):222-4.
- Harwood M, Harding S, Beasley R, Frankish PD. Asthma following royal jelly. N Z Med J. 1996 Aug 23;109(1028):325.
- Bullock RJ, Rohan A, Straatmans JA. Fatal royal jelly-induced asthma. Med J Aust. 1994 Jan 3;160(1):44.
- Thien FC, Leung R, Plomley R, Weiner J, Czarny D. Royal jelly-induced asthma. Med J Aust. 1993 Nov 1;159(9):639.
- Yonei Y, Shibagaki K, Tsukada N, et al. Case report: haemorrhagic colitis associated with royal jelly intake. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1997 Jul;12(7):495-9.
- Lee NJ, Fermo JD. Warfarin and royal jelly interaction. Pharmacotherapy. 2006 Apr;26(4):583-6.
- Elnagar SA. Royal jelly counteracts bucks' “summer infertility”. Anim Reprod Sci. 2010 Aug;121(1-2):174-80.