Contrary to common belief, the substance known as “royal jelly” is used to feed all larval bees, not just the queen. It is created within glands inside young worker bees. When a hive is in need of a queen bee, a single newly hatched larva is fed nothing but large quantities of royal jelly for four days. This causes this particular larva to transform into the singular queen bee of the hive.

Royal jelly has a long history of traditional medicinal uses, but these were based on highly simplistic analogies that make little sense from a scientific point of view. For example, since the queen bee lives far longer than any ordinary bee, royal jelly has long been considered a life-extending substance. In addition, since a queen bee is by definition extremely female, royal jelly was suggested for use in menopausal symptoms, a period of life in which it could be said that some aspects of traditional femininity decline.

What Is Royal Jelly Used for Today?

Royal jelly continues to be promoted as a life-extending supplement. However, as noted above, this use is based on reasoning so simplistic it is difficult to take it seriously. There is certainly no meaningful evidence that it actually offers this benefit in humans.

There is no question that royal jelly contains a variety of nutrients, including pantothenic acid and vitamin B 6 .

Royal jelly also has antimicrobial properties in the test tube. 1 However, an enormous number of other natural substances do so as well, and yet do not act as antibiotics when taken orally.

A collection of animal studies and poorly designed human trials hint that royal jelly might be helpful for improving cholesterol profile . 2 However, most of this research was done in the former USSR or its satellite countries, and fails to reach current standards of scientific validity.

Very weak evidence, too weak to rely upon at all, has been used to support the belief that royal jelly is in fact helpful in its traditional use as a treatment for menopausal symptoms . 3,4

Other purposes for which royal jelly has been advocated, but that lack meaningful supporting evidence, include preventing cancer5 and treating Grave’s disease , 6hypertension , 7 and osteoporosis . 8

The best designed study of royal jelly was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 80 children with hay fever . 9 Unfortunately, in this study, royal jelly proved no more effective than placebo.


A typical dosage of royal jelly is 50-150 mg per day. Standardized extracts of royal jelly are also available. These should be used according to label instructions.

Safety Issues

Although royal jelly is considered a generally non-toxic substance, allergic reactions to it do occur and may be very severe. Asthma, hemorrhagic colitis (bleeding in the colon), and anaphylactic shock have been reported. 10-13 People who are allergic to other bee products, or to pollens, should avoid royal jelly products.

One case report indicates that use of royal jelly can increase the activity of the blood-thinning drug warfarin , potentially leading to internal bleeding. 14

Maximum safe doses for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease are not known.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking the blood thinner warfarin , or any of its relatives, do not use royal jelly; the combination may lead to internal bleeding.