Does Royal Jelly Boost Your Immune System?

Beekeeping is the science and art of maintaining the health of bees and their products. One product from bees is royal jelly. Right now during the coronavirus pandemic, lots of people wonder if it's capable of boosting the immune system.
Does Royal Jelly Boost Your Immune System?

Last update: 30 May, 2020

Honey, propolis, and royal jelly are all substances that come from bees. Thanks to their active components, they’re very beneficial ways to reinforce your nutritionAlthough royal jelly doesn’t boost your immune system, it has been associated with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and antioxidant activity.

What is royal jelly?

Royal jelly is a substance that worker bees secrete. It’s a “superfood” that nourishes larvae the first three days of their life, as well as queen bees throughout their lives.

For humans, lots of people have used it as a traditional remedy for many years. In fact, Asian apitherapy and ancient Egypt used it a lot. Currently, it’s widely used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

What properties does it have for health?

The nutritional makeup of royal jelly is very complete, and has a high concentration of nutrients. It consists of water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins – especially B group – and some minerals. In addition, researchers have discovered more than a hundred other organic compounds, among which royalactin and some flavonoids stand out.

All of these are responsible for giving royal jelly a series of beneficial properties. Also, since there are lots of flavonoids, this substance has these other traits:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neurotropic
A beekeeper with his bees.

When can it help us?

As we have seen, this substance is a very nutritious food. However, for humans, you should think of it more as a food supplement to take on certain occasions. Here, we’ll explain some of them.

Physical and mental recovery

Royal jelly can stimulate mental and physical functions in older people. A study from the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reveals that after being treated with royal jelly, the mice in the experiment showed a lower level of stress hormones. In humans, the study showed an improvement in mental health after taking royal jelly for 6 months.

Tissue regeneration and scarring

In fact, royal jelly may help heal wounds. In live and in vitro studies, they found that royal jelly shortens the healing period of wounds and peeling skin. Both topically and orally, they can help with skin problems.

Antibacterial activity

There’s scientific literature available on the antibacterial activity of this substance and some of its components, mainly against gram positive bacteria. However, this isn’t the case with gram negative bacteria, where it’s not as effective.

In addition, other studies have linked this substance with antimicrobial effect against some bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibioticsFor example, one of them is Staphilococcus aureus. Further research is needed in this field, since bacterial resistance is one of the major health problems today.

Reduction of oxidative stress

One of its most promising properties is that it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. At least, different studies on animals show this. For example, there’s one published in the journal Neuroscience Letters. It still needs more human testing, but it’s showing promising results.

Pills made with royal jelly.

Does royal jelly boost your immune system?

Royal jelly has antibacterial properties, which makes it helpful to fight infections. In addition, it opens up a wide field of research that scientists need to explore further.

However, we can’t say the same about it boosting the immune system. It would be risky to claim that royal jelly is good for the immune system, when science doesn’t point in that direction. We need more research to safely make that kind of recommendation.

The best tips we can follow to keep our immune system strong and healthy are:

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet, based on fresh foods that give you all the nutrients you need
  • Eating foods rich in probiotics, the best food for our gut
  • Doing physical exercise and staying active every day
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Staying away from stress, as much as possible
  • Some supplements can help, but you need to make sure you ask a specialist, and tell them if you have any diseases or are taking any medication.

There’s no evidence that royal jelly really boosts the immune system

Just like propolis or honey, it’s very rich in active components like phenolic acid, terpenes, and enzymes. This gives it its nutritional properties that benefit your body.

The research is promising. However, nowadays, more human studies are necessary to make sure it’s a safe food supplement. For now, if you have any infections or symptoms, it’s always best to consult a health professional to get the best advice.

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  • Cornara L, et al. Therapeutic Properties of Bioactive Compounds from Different Honeybee Products. Front Pharmacol. Junio 2017. 28 (8):412.
  • Fratini F. Royal Jelly: An ancient remedy with remarkable antibacterial properties. Microbiological Research. Noviembre 2016. 192: 130-141.
  • Morita H, et al. Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers. Nutrition Journal. Setiembre 2012. 11(77).
  • Visweswara Rao P, et al. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. Oxidative Medicine and celular longevity.  Julio 2017.
  • Ito, Satoru, et al. “Antidepressant-like activity of 10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid, a unique unsaturated fatty acid of royal jelly, in stress-inducible depression-like mouse model.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012 (2012).
  • Park, Min Ji, et al. “Major royal jelly protein 2 acts as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant in royal jelly.” Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology 22.3 (2019): 684-689.
  • Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Royal jelly decreases corticosterone levels and improves the brain antioxidant system in restraint and cold stressed rats.” Neuroscience letters 655 (2017): 179-185.