What is royal jelly?
Royal jelly is one of the richest substances found in Nature. As the seasons change, its exceptional content in rare nutrients makes it invaluable for effortlessly overcoming bouts of fatigue and finding new energy.
It is produced from a very sweet, whitish substance secreted by worker bees between their fourth and fifteenth day of life. It is the sole source of nutrition for larvae destined to become queen bees, and for adult queens once they leave the colony.
Royal jelly is considered an exceptional substance because of its rich content in essential nutrients. The jelly is a kind of thick, whitish paste with a faint smell but a hot, acidic taste which makes it particularly difficult to swallow in its fresh, non-lyophilised (non-freeze-dried) form (1).
In particular, it helps to:
- Boost weak immune systems, especially during changes in season.
- Restore energy, drive and vitality in periods of fatigue and exhaustion, due to its comprehensive and complex composition.
- Restore youthfulness to the skin and nails (hence its widespread use in many specialist cosmetics).
What are the exceptional components found in royal jelly?
The chemical compounds found in royal jelly are quite extraordinary, comprising a wide variety of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. According to the scientific literature, however, it is the fatty acid 10HDA – the content of which varies between 3% and 5% - which is the most active compound.
Carbohydrates in royal jelly
10%-20% of royal jelly is made up of carbohydrates, the main ones being fructose and glucose, which account for around 90% of total carbohydrates. It is not uncommon to also find galactose, maltose, trehalose, turanose and palatinose (2).
Proteins in royal jelly
Proteins are a major constituent of royal jelly. Free amino acids (especially proline, lysine, glutamine and glutamic acid) are present in significant quantities (3-4), as are remarkable proteins called Major Royal Jelly Proteins (MRJP).
Produced by the bees’ glands, these rare proteins belong to the family of apalbumins (5) and play a role in the function of the bees’ cognitive system. Royal jelly is also the only known source of an anti-microbial protein called royalisin (6).
Last but not least are the jelleins which are composed of 8-9 amino acids.
Lipids in royal jelly
Royal jelly does not contain large quantities of lipids but those it does contain are of exceptional quality. The most prominent fatty acid is 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10H2DA), a quite remarkable compound. There is also gluconic acid (24 %), 10HDA (22 %) and various dicarboxylic acids (5 %) (7).
Unlike the majority of animal and plant-source fatty acids, those in royal jelly are short-chain (8-10 carbon atoms), recognised for their beneficial effects on the gut mucosa.
Vitamins and minerals in royal jelly
Royal jelly contains a number of vitamins, particularly all the B group vitamins. It also contains several minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper.
Where does royal jelly come from? How is it produced?
Royal jelly is the sole source of nutrition for queen bees and larvae in the first days of life, and is thus particularly rare. Fortunately, a technique has been developed in recent years to make it more accessible.
Producing royal jelly is a painstaking task which requires great patience on the part of the apiarist. A number of fundamental conditions are required:
- Having a healthy, high density colony, as a weak hive produces very little royal jelly.
- Ensuring the hive has sufficient food in the form of honey or concentrated syrup.
- Isolating the queen in order to ‘orphanise’ the colony and thus stimulate production of royal jelly for rearing a new queen.
- Grafting larvae into queen cells using appropriate tools and specific beekeeping skills.
- Collecting the royal jelly after three days by scratching the wax deposited by the bees from the queen cells.
The royal jelly offered by SuperSmart is freeze-dried and encapsulated using a modern technique which leaves its precious components unchanged. This process results in it losing almost two-thirds of its weight in water: 100mg of freeze-dried jelly is equivalent to around 300mg of fresh jelly.
What are royal jelly’s mechanisms of action?
Royal jelly’s mechanisms of action come from its composition and exceptional diversity. More powerful than honey (8), its antioxidant effects are believed to be comparable to those of vitamins C and E, as a result of its high peptide and free amino acid content (9).
Royal jelly is considered a tonic in traditional Chinese medicine, while in Eastern Europe, it is regarded as an excellent adaptogen (a substance which increases the body’s resistance to stress).
Like honey and propolis, it has been used by humans since antiquity. Multiple traces have been found of associations between humans of the Neolithic age and wild bees (10), long before apiculture was created concurrently by various civilisations, such as the Maya or ancient Rome, around 2400 BC.
Some believe its potential benefits for human health are based on the effects it induces in larvae: it is royal jelly which is responsible for the development of the queen’s reproductive organs and which accelerates her emergence from her cell (15 days for the queen compared with 21 for a worker bee). The exceptional fertility and lifespan enjoyed by the queen bee is thus due to royal jelly.
Can royal jelly be combined with other substances?
Royal jelly combines well with ginseng, green propolis, Robuvit®, a French oak extract used for reducing fatigue, and Asc2P 250 mg, a potent and stable form of vitamin C.
Should it be kept in the ‘fridge?
There is no need to refrigerate freeze-dried royal jelly.
Who is likely to benefit from royal jelly?
Everyone can benefit from royal jelly, but it may be particularly useful for sportspeople, pregnant women, the over-40s, delicate individuals and those suffering from fatigue or recurrent illness.
What advantages are offered by this particular supplement?
The royal jelly sold by SuperSmart offers at least three key advantages:
Its convenient format: royal jelly has a particularly unpleasant taste making it impossible for children to swallow … SuperSmart’s product comes in no-fuss, easy-to-take capsules.
Its 100% organic source. Apiculture has become more difficult nowadays due to the fragility of bee colonies and the use of phytosanitary products in the environment. That’s why this supplement is produced without the use of any organophosphates, chemical repellents, paradichlorobenzene or antibiotics near the hives, something which cannot be said of many cheaper royal jelly supplements.
Its precise content in 10HDA. This supplement’s content in 10HDA, the most beneficial fatty acid in royal jelly, is guaranteed at 4%. Scientists have shown that the percentage of 10HDA is related to the source of the royal jelly: good quality jelly has a higher level of this fatty acid. Most royal jellies tested contained a maximum of just 2-3.4 % 10HDA.
What is the ideal dose?
A dose of 2-3 capsules a day is recommended as a course of treatment that can be repeated several times a year if required.
It is usually taken before breakfast, for between four and six weeks.
This product should not be used as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to follow the directions for use, the recommended daily dose and the ‘use-by’ date. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or for children under 15. Keep out of reach of young children. Store in a cool, dry place.
1. Krell R. Value Sadded Products from Beekeeping, Numéro 124. Food and Agriculture Organization;1996.409p.
2. Sesta G. Determination of sugars in royal jelly by HPLC. Apidologie. 2006 Jan;37(1):84– 90.
3. Sabatini AG, Marcazzan GL, Caboni MF, Bogdanov S, Almeida S Muradian Lb. Quality and standardisation of royal jelly. J ApiProduct ApiMedical Sci.2009;1(1):1–6.
4. Boselli E, Caboni MF, Sabatini AG, Marcazzan GL, Lercker G. Determination and changes of free amino acids in royal jelly during storage. Apidologie. 2003 Mar;34(2):129–37.
5. Scarselli R, Donadio E, Giuffrida MG, Fortunato D, Conti A, Balestreri E, et al. Towards royal jelly proteome.PROTEOMICS.2005 Feb 1;5(3):769–76.
6. Fujiwara S, Imai J, Fujiwara M, Yaeshima T, Kawashima T, Kobayashi K. A potent antibacterial protein in royal jelly. Purification and determination of the primary structure of royalisin.JBiolChem.1990Jul5;265(19):11333–7.
7. Ramadan MF, AlSGhamdi A. Bioactive compounds and healthS promoting properties of royal jelly: A review. J FunctFoods.2012 Jan;4(1):39–52.
8. Nagai T, Sakai M, Inoue R, Inoue H, Suzuki N. Antioxidative activities of some commercially honeys, royal jelly, and propolis. Food Chem. 2001 Nov;75(2):237–40.
9. Guo H, Kouzuma Y, Yonekura M. Isolation and Properties of Antioxidative Peptides from WaterS Soluble Royal Jelly Protein Hydrolysate. Food Sci Technol Res. 2005;11(2):222–30
10. Chauvin R, editor. Traité de biologie de l’abeille. Paris: Masson et Cie; 1968. 152p.
This supplement contains red propolis, a rare substance with an exceptionally rich nutritional content that’s harvested from the mangroves of Brazil. It has the highest level of antioxidant phenolic compounds of all the forms of propolis and is the most effective at supporting immune function.
Its extraordinary pharmacological potential (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant) exceeds that of green propolis, which is itself a remarkable, highly-valued product (1). It contains more isoflavones which significantly improve menopause-related symptoms.
What benefits are offered by Red Propolis?
As confirmed by scientists some decades ago, the use of propolis dates back several thousand years. More recently, researchers have discovered that it has an astonishing number of additional biological and therapeutic properties useful in everyday life (2-4). We now know that propolis plays a part in:
- Stimulating the immune system to prevent infection (5-6). The immune system can become less responsive when the temperature drops or when it’s subjected to a stream of external aggressors, making the body more vulnerable to viruses, bacteria and pathogenic fungi. Propolis contains micronutrients for preventing such a scenario: it helps ‘mobilise the troops’ (increasing the number of macrophages) and gets them fitter, faster (by stimulating their lytic activity) due to its role in hundreds of enzymatic processes.
- Helping the immune system fight infection and bacterial attack (7). Not content with optimising the efficacy of immune cells, propolis also provides them with a variety of natural antibiotic compounds that combat the growth of pathogenic bacteria, inhibit synthesis of their DNA and break down their cell walls. Individually, these molecules have a modest effect but when combined, they are formidable and help the body repel aggressors using exogenous compounds. They are, in a manner of speaking, additional ‘weapons and external troops’ that ‘swell the ranks’ of our immune cells. They include, for example, galangin, kaempferol and pinocembrin, all of which have a powerful anti-fungal effect, as well as caffeic acid esters which disrupt the progress of viruses from cell to cell.
- Fighting inflammation (8-9). The flavonoids in red propolis interfere with the production of certain inflammatory mediators (especially prostaglandins and leukotrienes), in a similar way to aspirin (but via a unique mechanism).
These remarkable properties mean that red propolis can fight infection of all kinds (ENT problems, sore throats, rhinopharyngitis, sinusitis), reduce their duration, and increase the effects of conventional treatments against fungal problems and bacteria (10-11).
Other studies have shown that some of its components help stem DNA synthesis in abnormal cells, increase levels of glutathione (an endogenous antioxidant), curb lipid peroxidation, reduce oxidative stress, decrease the toxic effects on the liver caused by alcohol and certain drugs, and lessen menopause-related symptoms.
Why is red propolis so effective?
Several studies have demonstrated that red propolis is the most effective variety in terms of antioxidant potency (12). It contains more than 300 beneficial micronutrients (13):
- volatile terpenes (limonene, terpenes, oleic acid esters …) which are partly responsible for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects;
- phenols (flavonoids, lignans, tannins, coumarins …) some of which are specific to red propolis (elemicin, isoliquiritigenin, trans-anethole, methyleugenol, dalbergin, vestitol, medicarpin…) (14) and which offer marked antioxidant and cytoprotective effects (15-16);
- triterpenes (lupeol, amyrin) to which its antimicrobial effects are partly attributed (17);
- specific isoflavones which reduce symptoms of the menopause;
- and inorganic precious elements such as copper, manganese, iron, calcium and vanadium.
Where does red propolis come from?
Propolis is a sealant used by bees for strengthening the hive interior, making it more air- and water-tight and better-able to resist microbial and fungal attack. The bees make it from anti-pathogenic resins (18-19) gathered from tree buds and bark, which they mix with wax and saliva. The propolis is then collected by beekeepers by scratching the ‘frames’ of the beehive, after which the wax and impurities are removed. The final product is a complex concentrate of phytonutrients from the tree buds and micronutrients from the bees.
In Europe, bees make propolis from poplar trees or conifers. In Brazil, however, where ecosystems are infinitely richer, there are around 13 types of propolis which vary depending on the plant source used by the bees. They include red propolis, recognised as the variety containing the most antioxidant phytonutrients and demonstrating the highest antioxidant activity(20). It gets its red colour from a unique flavonol pigment called retusapurpurine (21).
It is produced from a climbing tree with vine-like branches: Dalbergia ecastophyllum (22-24) which grows in the mangroves (swampy tropical forests) of northern Brazil. In this extraordinary environment, far from intensive farming, the bees collect a bright red, resinous exudate, which is associated with the presence of a local parasite.
Green propolis is produced by bees in southern Brazil from a completely different species called Baccharis dracunculifolia (25).
Five good reasons to take Red Propolis
Red Propolis is an exceptional, natural and very rare product (annual production in Brazil is estimated to be just 1-2 tons), the manufacture of which relies on high-quality French extraction facilities.
- It’s the most bio-rich, effective and rarest of all the varieties of propolis.
- It comes in capsule form and thus leaves no bitter taste in the mouth.
- The fact that it’s freeze-dried means all the properties of its ingredients are well-preserved with a long ‘shelf-life’. This is not the case with fresh, chewable propolis, the quality of which is often mediocre.
- It contains much higher levels of isoflavones than other types of propolis, which helps improve symptoms of the menopause.
- It’s the best natural product for supporting the immune systemthroughout the winter period and in stressful situations.
How should you take Red Propolis?
It’s a good idea to also take the following steps throughout your supplementation with red propolis:
- Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables to ‘up’ your exogenous antioxidant levels. These external compounds will give your immune defences a boost and complement their activity.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. There’s no doubt that lack of sleep impairs the quality of your immune response.
- Pay attention to your diet. Poor diet is the main reason for a weak immune system: even mild deficiencies in key micronutrients (selenium, copper, vitamin E, vitamin A …) can play a significant role in the daily battle that takes place between the body and pathogens. Taking a good quality multivitamin supplement during periods of fragile health can help optimise immune processes.
- Avoid synthetic cleaning products, cigarette smoke and pesticides . Exposure to these substances damages the immune system.
For synergistic effects, Supersmart recommends combining Red Propolis supplements with those of barberry extract, a powerful anti-bacterial which also helps lower blood sugar levels, zinc orotate, which has well-documented preventive effects against the common cold, vitamin C, invaluable in winter for boosting white cell numbers, and a medicinal mushroom complex enriched with ginseng and selenium.
Royal jelly, standardised in 10-HDA, is also a good option for boosting the immune defences, ideally at each change in season.
Note: Red propolis is not recommended for those with allergies to beehive products.