Royal jelly is a gelatinous substance produced by honey bees to feed the queen bees and their young.
It’s frequently sold as a dietary supplement to treat a variety of physical ailments and chronic diseases.
While it has long been used in traditional medicine, its applications in Western medicine remain controversial.
Here are 12 potential benefits of royal jelly.
These include nine glycoproteins collectively known as major royal jelly proteins (MRJPs) and two fatty acids, trans-10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid and 10-Hydroxydecanoic acid (2).
Royal jelly also contains several B vitamins and trace minerals.
However, nutrient composition varies considerably between sources of royal jelly (1).
Some of the vitamins typically present in royal jelly include:
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Niacin (B3)
- Folic acid (B9)
- Inositol (B8)
- Biotin (B7)
These nutrients may provide some of royal jelly’s potential health benefits, though more research on this unique substance is needed.
Summary Royal jelly contains water, carbs, protein, fat, B vitamins and trace minerals. Its unique proteins and fatty acids may be the reason for its potential health benefits.
Royal jelly is widely claimed to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
In multiple test-tube and animal studies, specific amino acids, fatty acids and phenolic compounds found in royal jelly appear to have potent antioxidant effects (3).
While these results are promising, human studies are lacking. More data is needed to draw any definitive conclusions on treating inflammation with royal jelly.
Summary Some animal and test-tube studies indicate royal jelly may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. However, comprehensive research does not exist.
Both animal and human studies demonstrate that royal jelly may positively impact cholesterol levels and thereby reduce heart disease risk.
One 12-week study found that rabbits supplemented with royal jelly significantly reduced their total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by 28% and 23%, respectively (8).
Similarly, a one-month human study saw an 11% and 4% reduction in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in people taking about 3 grams of royal jelly daily (9).
Conversely, another small human study determined no significant differences in cholesterol levels between participants treated with royal jelly and those on a placebo (10).
While these studies are promising, more research is needed to better understand royal jelly’s impact on heart health.
Summary Some animal and human research has shown reduced cholesterol levels with royal jelly supplements. However, more studies are needed to confirm these results.
Royal jelly — both used orally and topically — may support wound healing and other inflammatory skin conditions.
It’s known to have an antibacterial effect, which can keep wounds clean and free from infection (11).
A test-tube study showed significantly enhanced tissue repair capacity in human cells treated with royal jelly (13).
Conversely, a more recent human study did not notice any difference in wound healing between a control group and participants treating diabetic foot ulcers topically with royal jelly (14).
Ultimately, more research is needed on royal jelly’s effects on wound healing and tissue repair.
Summary Some research indicates that royal jelly may enhance production of proteins involved in tissue repair. However, more research is needed.
Royal jelly may protect your heart and circulatory system by reducing blood pressure.
Several test-tube studies indicate that specific proteins in royal jelly relax smooth muscle cells in your veins and arteries, thereby lowering blood pressure (15).
A recent animal study examined a supplement combining royal jelly with other bee-derived substances and found a significant reduction in blood pressure. However, the exact role royal jelly played in this supplement is unclear (16).
More research is needed to understand royal jelly’s relationship with blood pressure.
Summary While early research indicates that specific proteins in royal jelly may lower blood pressure, more research is needed.
Royal jelly may also improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Multiple animal studies showed increased insulin sensitivity and an apparent protective effect on pancreatic, liver and reproductive tissue in obese, diabetic rats treated with royal jelly (17, 18, 19).
One small six-month human study demonstrated a 20% reduction in fasting blood sugar in healthy people who supplemented daily with royal jelly (10).
However, research on this topic is limited.
Summary Multiple animal studies indicate that royal jelly may increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar control. However, human-based research is limited.
Royal jelly may boost brain function.
One study revealed that stress-induced mice treated with royal jelly had lower levels of stress hormones and a more robust central nervous system than the control group (20).
Another animal study showed that rats treated with royal jelly were better able to remove certain chemical deposits in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease (8).
Most of these studies attribute the protective effect on brain and nervous tissue to royal jelly’s antioxidant capacity.
Though this data is encouraging, human research is needed.
Summary Multiple animal studies indicate that royal jelly may benefit brain function, though human research is lacking.
Royal jelly may treat dry eyes when taken orally.
One animal and one small human study showed improvements in chronic dry eyes for those treated orally with royal jelly. The results indicate that this bee-derived substance may increase tear secretion from lacrimal glands within your eyes (22, 23).
No adverse effects were reported from the human study. Thus, royal jelly could serve as a low-risk solution for chronic dry eyes.
Keep in mind that this very small data sample doesn’t indicate that royal jelly is able to treat most people’s dry eyes. Ultimately, more research is needed.
Summary A small amount of data shows that royal jelly may increase tear secretion in people with chronic dry eyes. However, further studies are necessary.
Royal jelly may slow the aging process in several ways.
Royal jelly is sometimes included in topical skin care products to support maintenance of healthy, younger-looking skin.
Since human research on the anti-aging benefits of oral or topical royal jelly use is insufficient, more studies are needed.
Summary Royal jelly may reduce some common symptoms of aging, but research is lacking.
Royal jelly may enhance your body’s natural immune response to foreign bacteria and viruses (26).
MRJPs and fatty acids in royal jelly are known to promote antibacterial activity, which can reduce incidence of infection and support immune function (11).
However, most applicable data is limited to animal and test-tube research. Therefore, more human studies are needed to confirm these effects.
Summary Some animal and test-tube research supports antimicrobial effects of royal jelly and indicates this substance may boost your immune system. However, human studies are lacking.
Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments come with significant negative side effects, including heart failure, inflammation and gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
Royal jelly may reduce some of the negative side effects associated with certain cancer treatments.
One study revealed a significant reduction in chemotherapy-induced heart damage in rats supplemented with royal jelly (27).
One very small human study indicated that topically applied royal jelly may prevent mucositis, a cancer treatment side effect that causes painful ulcerations in your digestive tract (28).
Though encouraging, these studies don’t offer definitive conclusions regarding royal jelly’s role in cancer treatment. More research is warranted.
Summary Royal jelly may treat certain side effects caused by cancer treatment. However, more research is needed.
Royal jelly may also treat symptoms associated with menopause.
Menopause causes a reduction in circulating hormones that is associated with physical and mental side effects, such as pain, impaired memory, depression and anxiety.
One study found royal jelly effective at reducing depression and improving memory in postmenopausal rats (21).
Keep in mind that more research is needed.
Summary Royal jelly may effectively treat menopause symptoms, though more research is needed.
Because research is relatively limited, a definitive recommended dosage for royal jelly hasn’t been established.
When taken as a dietary supplement, royal jelly is available in its natural state — a gel-like substance — or in powder or capsule form.
Benefits have been observed in a wide range of dosages. Current research supports possible benefits at 300–6,000 mg per day (30).
Royal jelly can also be applied topically to your skin and is sometimes included in commercially available skin care products.
If you’ve never used royal jelly before, it’s best to start with a very small dose to avoid serious allergic reactions and side effects.
Summary There is no official recommended dosage for royal jelly. Current research indicates possible benefits at 300–6,000 mg per day.
Though probably safe for most, royal jelly is not without risks.
Because it’s a bee product, people with allergies to bee stings, pollen or other environmental allergens should exercise caution.
While using royal jelly is likely safe for most people, serious adverse reactions have occasionally been reported. These include (2):
- Contact dermatitis
Some of these extreme reactions could even be fatal.
Summary Though generally considered safe, royal jelly may lead to serious allergic reactions.
While royal jelly has been used in ancient medicinal practices for centuries, it has been largely rejected by Western medical practitioners due to a lack of research.
Nonetheless, this bee product — which is different than honey — is still frequently used as an alternative treatment for a variety of physical and mental ailments.
To date, many of the health claims associated with royal jelly remain unproven. The bulk of available research is limited to animal and test-tube or very small human studies.
Ingesting royal jelly is not 100% risk-free. Serious side effects such as anaphylaxis have occasionally been reported.
Though current research is promising, more research is needed to determine how royal jelly may fit into a healthy lifestyle.