Royal jelly

La gelée royale et tous ses bienfaits en apithérapie - Apis Cera

« … I still think that if there is no reason to attribute to royal jelly and to some of its functions the rejuvenating qualities that have been so loudly attributed to it, it seems certain today that this product, non-toxic, in a way alimentary, is endowed with multiple pharmacodynamic qualities of which it is undoubtedly clumsy to neglect the therapeutic interest under the pretext that its effects are not miraculous. »

Dr Hugues Destrem

And yes, the old dream of the world is more alive than ever: to escape aging, and beyond that, perhaps, death… A certain Dr. Faust sold his soul to Lucifer’s envoy for this purpose; but it was a story, a romantic dream, and this demon was, after all, only a poor devil. Nothing has really changed: Doctor Faustus is getting wrinkles and nursing his rheumatism by the fire. Marguerite no longer dares to look at herself in the merciless mirror of the beauty parlors. The devil, for his part, must have other scientists to whip. The fountain of youth remains desperately dry.

And yet, hope in therapeutics is not dead. Let’s think about Bogomoletz’s serum or embryotherapy… among others!

What about royal jelly? Is it a dream too? No doubt! It was, and still is, part of the mythology of magic drugs. But why? In fact, it seems that there are good reasons for this, not the least of which is the fascination exerted on researchers by the “powers” of this food on the young larvae of workers destined to become queens. In six days, these larvae multiply by 1300 the initial weight of the egg! The queen herself, fed exclusively with royal jelly, lives four or five years. Compared to the average six weeks of existence of a worker, fed with pollen, honey and water, this makes a nice difference!  This was enough to make one dream and to lend this “royal” food extraordinary properties on humans. The argument was based on a very simple logic: what is so good for the bee, why shouldn’t it be for us?

Royal jelly is produced by the young workers, thanks to the action of their pharyngeal glands. During the period of their life when they will be nurses (about ten days), these young bees will have for only function to feed :

  1. Bee larvae: 2 days of royal jelly + 3 days of “water/pollen/honey” cocktail
  2. Queen larvae: 5 days of royal jelly
  3. The queen : royal jelly all her life

This jelly has the appearance of a yellowish paste slightly gelatinous and whose characteristic smell reminds that of the phenol.

If it has not yet revealed all its secrets, we do know that royal jelly contains :

  • Water: 65-70%.
  • Carbohydrates: about 14% – mainly simple sugars, glucose and fructose
  • Protein: about 13% – mainly amino acids, which are extremely important components that give royal jelly a high dietary value
  • Lipids (fats): about 4
  • Vitamins: especially the essential vitamins of the B group
  • Mineral salts and trace elements: calcium, copper, iron, sulfur, silicon, potassium, phosphorus
  • 3 % of the constituents of royal jelly remain elements of undetermined nature and that we have classified under the name of “factor R”.

It is obviously not the purpose of this article to ignore and reject the therapeutic applications of apitherapy. It is necessary to emphasize the possible dangers of a treatment carried out without prior knowledge of the risks involved. Health is – also – a matter of prudence. As this is a product that involves strict rules of application, it is necessary to think that it is advisable to take medical advice before undertaking this form of therapy. 

We will not go into a scientific analysis of the constituents of royal jelly. This is not the purpose. It is important for us to know that the work of chemists, biologists, specialists in beekeeping laboratories, agree to recognize certain dietetic properties.

In this respect, it is not useless to recall that dietetics concerns the study of hygiene and food therapeutics, which brings us back to the center of our approach to try to apprehend the effects of the products of the hive as food and as remedies. But isn’t a healthy food, in itself, the best preventive remedy? This is an important question!

So what do the experts say? Of course, they don’t claim miracles, but their observations, although prudent, are, in my opinion, all the more valuable. Thus, Doctor Destrem, already quoted, writes in the Revue de Gérontologie: “We have the impression that it can currently be considered as a basic therapeutic agent of the highest interest in geriatrics. It deserves better than a charlatan exploitation. But let us only ask of it what it can give. “In the current state of our knowledge, the question is: what can royal jelly give us? Here are some answers.

“Royal jelly acts as a biological, energetic stimulant of the various organic functions”. (Doctor Introzzi, University of Pavia.)

“On the human organism, royal jelly acts as a stimulant: the general state improves, a certain vigor appears, the capacity for physical and intellectual work increases, the mood becomes good and optimistic… In elderly people, memory and sight improve. It acts favorably on arteriosclerosis, angina, ulcers, anemia, depression and asthenia.
Doctors Troisky, Nisov and Loupatchev.

It is impossible to ignore these authoritative opinions, supported by serious studies and not by the systematic infatuation with royal jelly. In fact, these few quotes seem to summarize quite well the limits, but also the properties and actions of this product of the hive.

La gelée royale et tous ses bienfaits en apithérapie - Apis Cera

Actions and properties that we will try to specify here:

General indications, or the royal jelly and the “virtue of good maintenance”. Royal jelly is a food of choice, capable of stimulating the body thanks to its richness in various essential substances amino acids, vitamins of the B type and in particular vitamin B 5, or pantothenic acid, which plays a very important role in the chemistry of our cells, trace elements.

This stimulating power provides our organism with a better resistance capacity; that is to say, it allows it to better use its potential, both physical and psychological. It is thus a defense against the aggressions of the evil which is thus offered to us. As we said for honey, royal jelly has this virtue of good maintenance which should be at the base of all our food choices. The more the “machine” is well maintained, the less it risks “accidents”, premature wear, breakage or malfunction of any of its elements. This is the case for dietetics. We are largely responsible for our health insofar as we are responsible for our food choices.

In addition to this “good maintenance virtue”, royal jelly, due to its composition and specific properties, can have a certain number of curative actions.

It is most often indicated to combat the following disorders:

States of fatigue, slight depression or weakening of the general state, overwork, impotence or sexual asthenia, anemia, anorexia, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, weight loss, depressive states, neurasthenia, anxiety, growth retardation.

It should be noted that the effects of royal jelly are significantly more effective in the elderly and very young children than in middle-aged subjects.

Where to find royal jelly?

If the beehive is generous in honey and pollen, it is on the other hand much less so for royal jelly. It is this scarcity (and an often excessive infatuation on the part of consumers) that explains the very high price of this product. It is thanks to a technique called “queen rearing” that beekeepers have been able to develop a natural process that allows a truly marketable annual “harvest”.

Royal Jelly cells

The production of royal jelly for future workers and the queen cannot be taken from them, it is just enough for their nutrition. The royal larvae, on the other hand, receive a quantity that far exceeds their needs. It is known that queen cells are only built by honey bees if the queen dies or leaves the hive during swarming, when the colony has become too large. Therefore, the beekeeper wishing to practice “royal jelly harvesting” removes the queen from the hive, making it “orphan”. Deprived of their mother, the workers are ready to raise royal larvae.

A frame of 40 “cells” (small plastic cups) is placed near the brood, in which larvae (24 to 36 hours old at the most) have been placed. As soon as the workers have “adopted” these artificial cells, they transform them very quickly into future queen cells, which will be abundantly fed with royal jelly. Three days later, the beekeeper removes the frame from the hive, extracts the larvae from the cells and sucks out the jelly they contain, about 250 milligrams per cell.

This is the principle of royal jelly production, obviously practiced by very experienced professional beekeepers.

Once harvested, the jelly must be stored and kept cold (5 degrees maximum) in order to preserve all its properties. Under these conditions, it can be consumed within a few months after harvesting; however, it should be noted that the fresher it is, the more the active principles of the royal jelly remain intact.

This brings us to the “packaging” of the jelly: in what form can it be found in the shops, and how to consume it, taking into account the conservation requirements (temperature equal to or lower than 5C, protected from light and humidity) which make it a very “fragile” product.

Currently, it can be found in specialized stores or from producers (it is an excellent formula to buy, as much as possible, the products of the hive directly from the beekeepers: you are assured of their quality) in the following forms

Pure: sold in jars of 3 to 20 grams. Remember again the absolute necessity to keep it at low temperature.

Lyophilized: dehydrated under vacuum and presented in the form of capsule, capsule or ampoule.

The use of royal jelly is, as we have seen, widely recommended. However, we would like to express a reservation. As this is a product of which a part (however small) of the components is still unknown or poorly known, it seems important to us to use it only with caution insofar as certain
seems important to us to use it only with caution insofar as certain contra-indications that we ignore can reveal themselves with the use. We also strongly advise people who wish to undertake a royal jelly cure to do so only after medical advice.

In another chapter, we will discuss “typical cures” based on royal jelly. As an indication, and taking into account the reservations expressed above, we propose this “average dosage for a healthy adult” recommended by Doctor
Donadieu (ef. La Gelée royale, éd. Maloine):

“Take every morning, on an empty stomach, for six weeks, the value of 500 mg of fresh royal jelly, which will be allowed to melt under the tongue, at a rate of 2 to 4 cures per year, distributed at critical periods, variable according to each individual, and that the attending physician is always able to determine.”

This is an excellent health advice and fits perfectly into our purpose: royal jelly like honey, but especially like pollen and propolis, is above all a food and a preventive remedy.

So, no miracle, but happy health: it belongs to you and it is up to you to keep it…

Read also our special pages on bee venom and propolis. The world of bees never ceases to amaze us.

excerpts from La Santé par le miel by Jean-François Chèzeries (LDP)