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Monday, May 21, 2007

Royal Jelly

This milky white, viscous substance originates with the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.). It is secreted by the worker bees and used as food for the queen bee. Royal jelly is used as a nutrient and a general tonic. The most common advocated uses are for malnutrition in children, general weakness in the elderly, chronic hepatitis, diabetes, rheumatism, arthritis, and hypertension.

The food and medicinal uses of royal jelly appear to be of very recent origin. Hence, unlike ginseng and astragalus, these uses do not have a long historical basis, and only time will tell whether they are indeed valid.

Nevertheless, over the past few decades, there has been considerable chemical and biological work performed on royal jelly. It is very rich in several nutrients, including protein, lipids, vitamins, sterols, amino acids, and trace minerals. In addition, it contains 10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid (commonly called 10-HDA), which is generally considered its major active constituent and is thus used in the standardization of royal jelly products. Thus, high-quality frozen royal jelly contains about 2% while freeze-dried powdered royal jelly contains about 5% 10-HDA.

In laboratory studies, 10-HDA has been found to exhibit various biological activities, including antitumor, immunopotentiating, antimutagenic, liver-protectant, antibacterial, antiinflammatory and radiation-protectant effects. Unfortunately, none of these activities can be correlated with a long use history.

One of the most popular uses of royal jelly is in combination with Asian ginseng as an "energizer". Whether royal jelly contributes to the energizing effects of this combination remains to be seen. It is also used in various types of skin-care productsfor its claimed antiwrinkle and skin whitening properties.

Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Better Health with (mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food discusses the use of 60 different herbs as healing foods, including royal jelly on page 77. For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com.

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