Royal jelly is a viscous, milky white secretion produced by the pharyngeal glands of worker bee (Apis mellifera L.), belonging to the insect family Apidae. During the first three days of life all bee larvae feed exclusively on this special and highly concentrated food. Future queens continue to be nourished by this product, making the Queen Bee 50% larger than the other female worker bees, and contribuing to her incredible stamina and longevity. Queen Bees typically live 4 or 5 years, compared to the workers, who live only about 40 days.
Because the resulting queens are much larger than worker bees, live thirty to forty times longer, and are highly fertile (worker bees are sterile), enthusiasts have long believed that royal jelly may have beneficial effects when consumed by human beings.
Various herbalist claim that royal jelly is especially effective in halting or controlling the aging process, nourishing the skin and erasing facial blemishes and wrinkles. Royal Jelly has also been used to treat cases of fatigue, depression, convalescence from illness, the “growing pains” of adolescence; and in preventing the signs of normal aging or even premature senility. As a general tonic for treating the menopause or male climacteric and to improve sexual performance, royal jelly supposedly has a general systemic action rather than any specific biological function.
Chinese herbalists also advocate Royal Jelly for use in cases of liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, phlebitis, gastric ulcer, degenerative conditions, and general mental or physical weakness.
The chemistry of royal jelly has been extensively studied and found to be a rich source of complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids, unsaturated fats, natural sugars, minerals and the B-vitamins (B-5 and B-6) The B vitamins were especially prominent, with pantothenic acid predominating.
Tests have shown that royal jelly does possess some slight antibacterial activity and can have an affect on the adrenal cortex, stimulating the adrenal glands to produce a positive reaction on increased metabolism, enhanced energy, greater sexual capability and appetite.
An antitumor effect in mice has also been noted, but there is no evidence that the product has any estrogenic (female sex hormonal) activity, or that it affects the growth, longevity, or fertility of animals. As for its topical effectiveness in rejuvenating the skin the results from one three-month clinical study of 24 female patients are of interest; ten women showed improvement, ten experienced no change, and four showed symptoms of skin irritation.