Dr. Leia Explains Benefits of Royal Jelly and Bee Products Relationship to Allergies
Question for Dr. Leia: Could you tell me about the benefits of Royal Jelly, and how products made from bee honey can help a person’s health?
My sister was telling me Royal Jelly health benefits include helping people with pollen related allergies. I recently moved from Florida to Seattle and she told me about some royal jelly tablets made from local bees and how it may assist me in getting rid of these awful allergies I seem to be getting from living in the Northwest.
I would love your opinion on this. Thanks, Mary
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Mary, Thank you for your excellent question. There has been much controversy over the benefits of bee products such as Royal Jelly and Bee pollen. Currently, the FDA’s stance regarding bee products is that they can be marketed as a food only, and not as medicine. If a company promises, promotes or makes health claims for Royal Jelly and Bee pollen, then these products are considered drugs, and as such will be targeted by the FDA.
It is interesting that your sister has mentioned Royal Jelly as a solution for your seasonal Northwest allergies. One of the major dangers from using Royal Jelly and other bee products such as bee pollen seems to be allergic responses.
There have been many incidences of severe allergies triggered from ingesting bee products, including acute asthma, difficulty breathing, skin reactions and hives, and even anaphylactic reactions, thus allergy-sensitive people are advised to avoid these products.
As you know, bees depend upon flowers and plants to sustain their hive and they utilize the nectar from these flowers to produce their products. Also, the pollen from the flowers attach to the legs and body of the bees when the bee is busy collecting the flower’s nectar. If a person is allergic to ragweed or other plant pollens, then bee products could cause an allergic response in that individual.
Let us take a better look at Royal Jelly. Royal Jelly is a milky substance secreted by the salivary glands of the worker bees in the hives. Aptly named, it serves as the only food source for the queen bee of the hive, and also as a food source for all young bee larvae. Because the queen bee is larger than all of the other worker bees in the hive, and also is the only bee which produces all of the eggs for the hive, Royal Jelly has been promoted as an excellent nutritional supplement for humans. If it is right for the queen bee, then it must be right for humans? Royal Jelly contains many valuable vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, and all of the B vitamin complex. It also contains many essential minerals, 18 essential amino acids, and other nutrients such as DNA and RNA.
There have been a few studies done in mice, which showed an anti-fatigue effect, increased life span, reduction in oxidative damage in mice, anti-inflammatory reduction, anti-tumor effects, and anti-hypertensive effects all shown in mice. However, there have been no human studies to show comparable results in humans, so claims cannot be substantiated for these results. So, Royal Jelly could indeed, be a potent superfood as all of the mice research indicates.
Because Royal Jelly is 67% water in composition, it is prone to contamination when it is removed from the hive. Some companies use chemical preservatives to keep the Royal Jelly free from contamination, so it is wise to make sure that if one wants to use this product, then it is wise to find a company which does not use these chemical preservatives. Instead, it would be best to find a company which uses lyophilizaton or freeze-drying, or a natural preservative such as honey, or even a simple freezing method.
My professional opinion in your case, Mary, would be to stay away from Royal Jelly and other bee products because of your allergies. There are many other better and safer ways to deal with allergic responses than to use a product which has a high track record of causing them. What your sister may have been referring to is that when allergens (things which produce allergies) are given in small quantities, then they will produce the opposite effect and cause a de-sensitization response which will help to desensitize the patient against the very allergy which in the first place caused the response.
This is tricky, though, and not recommended because of the greater possibility of producing an anaphylactic response which could have dire consequences. The problem with self-dosing would be that you could get the wrong dosage, since each individual is unique in his/her response to allergens. A better suggestion for you would be to visit your naturopathic doctor and have an allergy testing done which will determine your inhalant allergies indigenous to the area and then you could be treated with homeopathic remedies which could mitigate the effects of your allergies. Good luck to you.
By Dr. Liea Melead