royal jelly…an interesting protein

Royal Jelly – its not the same as honey. It looks like it -and usually comes available in honey, but what is this compound, exactly?  In the ever increasing world market it can be hard to differentiate the brands and origins of the many products available. After some quick research, I have found the most interesting facts about royalactin, or the protein found in the compound “royal jelly” where it comes from and its composition.

In holistic healing circles & alternative medicine folklore, royal jelly is believed to have anti aging properties (stemming primarily from its amino acid content) and  its broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Its reputation for providing fertility and libido assistance is gaining traction, tho there is little  clinical research to support this. Royal jelly is also used topically as a component in skin care & natural beauty products, women can smear it all over their faces after a dermabrasion for the benefits to the skin.

Fresh Royal Jelly is not a vitamin or a drug. It’s a unique and precious food substance straight from the beehive. It is not honey or pollen, but the food of the queen bee. The queen lives approximately 6 years exclusively on a diet of Fresh Royal Jelly, while the worker bees live about 6 weeks eating honey and pollen.

What do you say is the big deal? Well,  This stuff makes the queen larger than all the workers, up to 42 .6 percent larger and 60.6 percent fatter. While a worker bee lives 6 weeks, the queen lives about 6 years. Sometimes farmers who harvest the manna remove the queen after 5 years in order to keep the hives going stronger. It is known that the women in egypt used this on their skin, and that it was used as a tincture to preserve the dead.

In a more modern study, when given to fruit flies, they too responded to a diet of royal jelly. So- how is it being used today?

Cultivation and Delivery of the product

This comes from bee hives. Harvesters have to gather the stuff from the hive.

Royal Jelly is offered in one of two ways. In its pure, natural state it is like a thick milky substance.  This form is very unstable and it must be frozen or refrigerated in order to preserve it. The second form of Royal Jelly is an extract (powder or liquid form).  The powder extract is by far the most popular and is what capsules contain.  There are two methods of achieving a powdered extract, (1) Freeze-dried or (2) Spray-dried.  Freeze-drying the Royal Jelly cost more to manufacture but it is also the best way because no food preservatives have to be added.  Freeze Drying the Royal Jelly removes all the moisture content and contrary to what some Royal Jelly providers say, NO nutritional value is lost in this process. However, the spray dry process requires that a preservative be added to it and that honey alone is not a stable preservative.

I found it online in prices ranging from 8$ to 25$ for different forms. Some more thorough  investigation was required. A local shop offered a form of royal jelly that was much like honey in a container and said it was “tested for 10-HDA”

It tastes sweet and mellow and doesn’t show any form of crystallization. I wonder how you can test the potency of something like this.

REAL STUFF:

According to research, royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae and adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of worker bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony. When worker bees decide to make a new queen, either because the old one is weakening, or was killed, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs. [wiki]

Royal jelly is secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees, and is fed to all bee larvae, whether they are destined to become drones (males), workers (sterile females) or queens (fertile females). After three days, the drone and worker larvae are no longer fed with royal jelly, but queen larvae continue to be fed this special substance throughout their development. It is harvested by humans by stimulating colonies with movable frame hives to produce queen bees. Royal jelly is collected from each individual queen cell (honeycomb) when the queen larvae are about four days old. It is collected from queen cells because these are the only cells in which large amounts are deposited; when royal jelly is fed to worker larvae, it is fed directly to them, and they consume it as it is produced, while the cells of queen larvae are “stocked” with royal jelly much faster than the larvae can consume it. Therefore, only in queen cells is the harvest of royal jelly practical. A well-managed hive during a season of 5–6 months can produce approximately 500 g of royal jelly. Since the product is perishable, producers must have immediate access to proper cold storage (e.g., a household refrigerator or freezer) in which the royal jelly is stored until it is sold or conveyed to a collection centre. Sometimes honey or beeswax are added to the royal jelly, which is thought to aid its preservation, but a food preservative is required. {these hyperlinks take you directly to the wikipedia definition of the vitamin compounds}

Royal jelly is collected and sold as a dietary supplement for humans, claiming various health benefits because of components such as B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). The overall composition of royal jelly is 67% water, 12.5% crude protein, including small amounts of many different amino acids, and 11% simple sugars (monosaccharides), also including a relatively high amount (5%) of fatty acids. It also contains many trace minerals, some enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and trace amounts of vitamin C, but none of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K.

Royalactin  

The component of royal jelly that causes a bee to develop into a queen appears to be a single protein that has been called royalactin. It is worth noting that jelly which had been rendered inactive by prolonged storage had a fresh addition of each of the components subject to decay and was fed to bees; only jelly laced with royalactin caused the larvae to become queens. Royalactin also induces similar phenotypical change in the fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster), marked by increased body size and ovary development.

pullquote”The queen/worker developmental divide is controlled epigenetically by differential feeding with royal jelly; this appears to be due specifically to the protein royalactin. A female larva destined to become a queen is fed large quantities of royal jelly; this triggers a cascade of molecular events resulting in development into a queen. It has been shown that this phenomenon is mediated by an epigenetic modification of DNA known as CpG methylation.

…this is some really interesting stuff as we know what methylation can do within human cells.

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if you have had any experience with this I would like to hear about it. As far as I am concerned, how could you go wrong?

References Wiki, healthypro.org, and durhamsbeefarm.com , for information about the royalactin and harvesting; Chucks food store in Brandon for the 11oz royal Jelly 30,000 for   $21 and my client who asked the question about it~ I truly have not heard or tried this and It sure is interesting:)

to your health…Scott