Royal jelly is an incredibly interesting biological "miracle". Bees produce it in their pharynx and use it to feed the mother bee. What's so interesting about it?
The mother bee and the worker bees (testes) share the same genetic make-up at conception, but the royal jelly-fed mother bee lives much longer and has excellent fertility. Because they share the same genetic make-up, royal jelly is responsible for the health and longevity of the uterus. Could it also extend the lives of humans? This has been on the minds of many researchers. Let's see what the studies have to say about it.
Ageing is a natural process and is very close to the concept of lifespan. Stress, inadequate nutrition and the harmful substances that enter our bodies all increase inflammation, which accelerates the ageing process. As a result of inflammation (free radicals), cells begin to damage and deteriorate and fewer new and healthy cells are able to take their place, in thi sense ageing is the "accidental" cellular breakdown that can lead to many diseases and loss of life span.
In other words, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that protect against free radicals inhibit the ageing process. We know a lot about anti-inflammatories and antioxidants - what makes royal jelly so special? Royal jelly contains a wide variety of nutrients and is considered a real 'superfood'. It contains unique proteins, as well as powerfull antioxidant flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and fatty acids.
It has a slightly acidic pH due to the fatty acids, thus protecting the larvae against infection. It can also have anti-infective effects on our bodies (which studies have shown). The main fatty acid in royal jelly is 10-HDA, which has anti-inflammatory effects (further enhancing its anti-infective and anti-ageing effects) and also helps to exert its estrogenic effects, which can be healthy for bones, joints and muscles depending on your gender and condition - depending on whether you have the right estrogen levels. In addition, 10-HDA also helps nerve cell development, reducing the risk of dementia and other neurological diseases in old age. It also inhibits a cell-degrading enzyme (matrix metalloprotease) that contributes to skin ageing and arthritis. So the fatty acid content of royal jelly (mostly 10-HDA), is a potent anti-ageing agent and some studies suggest it may reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Proteins occur in the highest amounts in roya jelly. Royal jelly contains mostly unique proteins specific to royal jelly, which become compounds (called glycoproteins) that promote cell growth and division and are involved in the immune system. These proteins are important not for their nutritional value (calories) but for their effects on the body, which do not require large amounts to porduce their beneficial effects. Interestingly, they reduce the levels of insulin-like growth hormone (IGF-1), which has been linked to cancer, but increase the growth hormone in skin cells - further enhancing its anti-ageing effects.
And its antioxidant (anti-free radical) effects are due to the phenols and flavonoids it contains. The total antioxidant content of a herb is measured in rutin or gallic acid equicalents, and royal jelly has outstanding antioxidant effects. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it can lower cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels, thus protecting against cardiovascular disease.
Interestingly, it may also increase testosterone levels, thereby increasing fertility in men, and in women by regulating estrogen levels. It is adviseable to consult a doctor before use and to have an allergy test, as those who are allergic to bee stings or bee pollen can have reactions (anaphylactic, asthmatic, respiratory) which can be fatal.
For non-allergic persons, use is considered safe.