Although it has been termed royal jelly, it is the least understood of all the substances derived from a bee hive. It appears that royal jelly has a mystery shrouding it and it is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of Mother Nature. What is significant about royal jelly is the fact that even the bee keepers seldom have the opportunity to see the substance, let alone tasting it. This is primarily because royal jelly is directly transferred from the worker bees to the queen bee. Despite this, scientists are eager to conduct researches on royal jelly to ascertain its constituents as well as their remedial utility.
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A broad analysis of the royal jelly constituents has revealed that it comprises a combination of flower nectar, sugars, vitamins, proteins as well as secretions from the glands of worker bees that are primarily used by the insects to develop and maintain their queen bee. Royal jelly is supposed to have numerous medicinal benefits and is useful for people suffering from fatigue, anorexia, headaches, inadequate lactation, asthma, failure to prosper in children as well as physical weaknesses owing to different reasons. All said and done, claims regarding the therapeutic properties of royal jelly are either still unsubstantiated or are backed by little verification.
Test tube studies conducted by scientists have shown that royal jelly is anti-bacterial in nature. On the other hand, tests conducted on animals have shown that royal jelly is likely to be of help in fast healing of wounds, stimulate or suppress different features of the immunity system in the body and also holds mild anti-tumor properties. Studies conducted on animals have further shown that royal jelly possesses properties that may help to curb the cholesterol-promoting consequences of nicotine and also help in lowering blood cholesterol levels in the system. Significantly, when 50 mg to 100 mg of royal jelly was administered on a section of people daily, it showed a remarkable reduction in blood cholesterol levels in their body.
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For the queen bee, the regular supply of the fluid or royal jelly from the nurse bees' stomach is one of the most delicious dietary experiences. Although the royal jelly, which is basically a vomit comprising rich chemical elements, may be delicious to the queen bee, it is disgusting to the sensitive human beings. At the same time, if it is tasted raw, royal jelly appears quite bitter and acidic to the human tongue.
Throughout her life, the queen bee manages to survive only on royal jelly and nothing else. In fact, this royal fluid is very crucial in making new queen bees. This, however, does not mean that the royal jelly helps in giving birth to queen bees, but only helps in the survival and growth of the queen bees. For instance, the bees' eggs that are meant for giving birth to queen bees are cosseted or pampered right from the day they are laid. These eggs are laid in particularly prepared, additionally large brood cells of the hive and these often resemble like peanut shells. Initially, all eggs - ones intended to be queen bees as well as those meant to be worker bees - appear indistinguishable. However, the eggs that are intended to become queen bees are given extra care and nourishment. On the other hand, the eggs meant to be worker bees are provided with royal jelly for three days that comprise their brief larval period and no more. Providing these eggs with royal jelly helps them to become sexless bee workers in the bee hive.
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Feeding on the royal jelly is the key to the survival and growth of the queen bees. This is an important process in the lives of queen bees as they would not be able to develop properly without this rich food. As the queen bees live exclusively on the royal jelly, this rich nutrient helps them to attain larger sizes as well as live for longer periods compared to other bees. On an average, each queen bee is about 42 per cent larger and weigh 60 per cent more that the worker bees. Interestingly, the queen bees also survive 40 times longer than the worker bees. Another amazing fact is that the queen bees produce around 2000 eggs daily and her each day's brood is nearly 2.5 times her own body weight. Basically, the royal jelly vomited by the nurse bees is a thick, tremendously nourishing, milky-white, creamy liquid. This liquid is secreted from the hypo-pharynheal glands of the nurse bees.
Biochemical analysis of royal jelly has found the substance to be of a very complex nature. While the royal jelly is extremely rich in protein content, it comprises eight indispensable amino acids. In addition, this nutritionally rich fluid also contains fatty acids, sugars, sterols and phosphorus compounds as well as acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an essential element as it is required to pass on messages from the nerve to each cell of the organism. Acetylcholine comprises gamma globulin that is known to stimulate the immune system and also resist as well as fight against all infections. Lack or too little presence of acetylcholine in the body may lead to Alzheimer's disease in a person. Royal jelly is not only an excellent source of nutrients, but is also tender to the system. The constituents of royal jelly also include vitamins A, B-complex, C, D and E. Royal jelly is especially important and beneficial for its B-complex contents - B1, B2, B6, B12, biotin (vitamin H), folic acid (B9) and inositol (vitamin B8). It is also rich in vitamin B pantothenic acid that is distinguished for its aptitude to lower stress levels. In addition, royal jelly also provides various minerals - copper, iron, calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus as well as silicon.
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Over the years royal jelly has been popular both among the physicians as well as the lay man for its abilities to enhance youthfulness and perk up the skin beauty. However, recent studies have established that the substance also helps in enhancing energy levels, alleviating nervousness or anxiety, healing sleeplessness, moodiness, memory loss and strengthening the immune system in the body.
A group of researchers at Valhalla in New York have discovered additional properties of royal jelly. According to their findings, royal jelly possesses a complex compound that helps in stimulating the glands and regularizing the reproductive systems in both men and women. These researchers have found royal jelly to function as a normal hormone. Studies conducted by other researchers have shown that when chickens, roosters and pigs were fed on royal jelly, they grew larger in size, lived longer and also showed additional fertility. In fact, these animals became sexually more active after ingesting royal jelly.
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Researches have further established that royal jelly has rich contents of nucleic acids, RNA and DNA. Another vital constituent of royal jelly is gelatin, which is considered to be an antecedent of collagen. In fact, collagen is an anti-aging element that keeps the skin smooth and glowing as well as enhances youthfulness.
As mentioned earlier, worker bees prepare royal jelly which forms the staple and exclusive diet for the queen bee. Other larvae, which are intended to become worker bees, are also fed on royal jelly for a brief period till they commence maturing. However, it is the queen been which is fed royal jelly all through her life. Royal jelly is commercially available in the market as a dietary supplement.
Physicians often recommend the use of 50 mg to 100 mg of royal jelly daily to people to lower the cholesterol levels in their system. Ingestion of royal jelly in such dosages has been confirmed by many studies on the subject.
People who are vulnerable to different allergies may develop sensitivity following ingestion of royal jelly or products prepared from it. At times, ingestion of royal jelly may lead to severe allergic reactions in persons who are vulnerable to allergies. Although royal jelly encloses negligible chemical or bacterial pollution, there have been apprehensions from some quarters regarding the absence of standardized or consistent examinations for environmental impurities in bee products worldwide.