Royal jelly is a substance produced by bees, and studies show that it has numerous health benefits. With regards to thyroid health, there is evidence that royal jelly can benefit people with Graves’ Disease. But unlike other supplements commonly taken by people with Graves’ Disease such as bugleweed, motherwort, and lemon balm, royal jelly seems to affect the autoimmune component of the condition. In addition, royal jelly can also benefit many people with other types of health conditions as well, which I’ll discuss in this post.
Royal jelly is mainly secreted by the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker honeybees between the sixth and twelfth days of their life and is an essential food for the development of the queen honeybee (1) (2). Royal jelly is a complex substance containing a unique combination of proteins (12-15%), sugars (10-12%), lipids (3-7%), amino acids, vitamins, and minerals (2). What I’d like to do below is discuss some of the benefits of royal jelly.
Graves’ Disease and other autoimmune conditions. A small study looked at the effects of royal jelly on the autoimmune component of Graves’ Disease (3). Graves’ Disease is considered to be a Th2 dominant condition in most cases, and this study showed that royal jelly shifted the Th1/Th2 cytokine ratio to the side of the Th1 pathways, and caused a significant decrease in the TSH receptor antibodies associated with Graves’ Disease. The authors concluded that royal jelly may be effective as an immunomodulatory agent in Graves’ Disease.
In addition to Graves’ Disease, people with other autoimmune conditions might also benefit from taking royal jelly. One study in mice showed that royal jelly may be beneficial in the prevention of the early onset of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), along with the control of the active progression of this condition (4). Like Graves’ Disease, SLE is usually considered to be a Th2 dominant condition (5). Pro-inflammatory cytokines are present in autoimmune conditions, and another study showed that royal jelly inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines (6). In other words, royal jelly can help to reduce inflammation.
Dry eyes. A study looked at the effects of honey bee products on tear secretion capacity in dry eyes (7). The study showed that royal jelly restored the tear secretion capacity to the largest extent when compared to raw honey and propolis.
Premenstrual Syndrome. One study consisting of 110 medical sciences students with PMS looked at the effects of royal jelly (8). Each participant took one 1,000 mg royal jelly capsule per day for two months. The results of the study showed that taking the royal jelly supplement for two months was effective in reducing PMS.
Glycemic control. A study involving 50 female volunteers with type 2 diabetes looked at the effects of royal jelly on glycemic control and oxidative stress (9). The participants took a 1,000 mg royal jelly supplement for 8 weeks. The results showed that the mean fasting blood glucose decreased remarkably, and supplementing with royal jelly also resulted in significant reduction in the average hemoglobin A1C levels and increased the mean total antioxidant capacity. The authors concluded that royal jelly supplementation may be beneficial in controlling diabetes outcomes.
Periodontal disease. Since royal jelly has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in rats and also has anti-inflammatory effects, some authors hypothesized that royal jelly can help with the prevention or treatment of periodontal diseases (10). They conducted a study in mice and concluded that royal jelly can provide benefits for the treatment and prevention of periodontal diseases.
Male Infertility. A few studies have shown that royal jelly might be beneficial in some cases of male infertility. One study evaluated the protective effect of royal jelly on sperm parameters and testosterone levels in mice, and concluded that royal jelly may help to improve oxidative stress and male infertility (11). Another study showed that royal jelly may be useful for diabetic patients who suffer from sexual impotence by producing anti-diabetic activity and exhibiting fertility enhancing properties (12).
Royal Jelly vs. Bee propolis
Propolis is a resinous substance produced by honeybees as defense against intruders (13). I’m sure some people reading this are wondering if bee propolis offers similar benefits. Propolis doesn’t offer the same exact benefits as royal jelly, although there is evidence that it has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, dermatoprotective, anti-allergic, laxative, and immunomodulatory properties (14). There is also evidence that propolis has anticancer activity (15) (16). Propolis can also provide protection against the damaging effects of radiation (17) (18).
In summary, royal jelly is a substance produced by bees that has many different health benefits. There is evidence that royal jelly may help to modulate the immune system in people with Graves’ Disease, along with other autoimmune conditions. Royal jelly might also be beneficial in people with dry eyes, blood sugar imbalances, premenstrual syndrome, periodontal disease, and male infertility. Bee propolis is also produced by honeybees, and like royal jelly it also has numerous health benefits.