Royal jelly is a heavily marketed health food supplement that makes lots of amazing health claims. One of these claims is that it’s a potent supplement for egg health to help with a woman’s fertility. Today I’m going to tell you just what royal jelly is and dig into the fertility health claims about it to see if there is a case for it helping. Let’s go…
Having your eggs as healthy as possible is a key factor for a successful IVF outcome. And a bit of Internet searching around the topic of ‘egg health’ brings up all sorts of weird and wonderful advice. One such left-field recommendation is to take the popular alternative health supplement royal jelly. Royal Jelly has been used for centuries to aid in the treatment of infertility and today it is also highly recommended on many fertility websites. So what on earth is royal jelly and can it improve your egg health?
What is Royal Jelly?
Firstly, royal jelly has nothing to do with a type of dessert eaten by kings and queens! It’s actually made by nurse worker bees to feed to larvae in the first few days of their life. So for bees at least, it is an important source of nutrition. If larvae are fed royal jelly exclusively for a longer period, the larvae will actually develop into a queen bee. Hence where the name ‘royal’ comes from. Royal jelly is actually considered a food product. That’s no surprise, because it is a food for growing bees so it contains calories due to its protein, carbohydrate, and fatty acid content.
What’s the link with egg health?
Here is where the link between royal jelly and human fertility comes in. A queen bee lives exclusively on royal jelly and this allows her to lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. There are claims that the royal jelly can help balance out hormones in the bee to improve egg laying ability, and there actually may be a small amount of truth to this. But will it do the same for humans?
To start off, I should say that there are no clinical studies looking at royal jelly and egg development in women so you would be taking it on faith that royal jelly will have any benefit.
But there is a small twist to the story. Royal jelly has been found to have some estrogen-like effects from its unique profile of fatty acids. Though I should stress these effects have only been seen in lab Petri dishes and mice. Estrogen, of course, is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle so there is a small amount of plausibility to the royal jelly and fertility story.
Adding to the case that royal jelly could have hormone effects was a study actually done in post-menopausal women. Surprisingly, royal jelly showed some benefit in offering relief from menopause symptoms, but it was only anxiety and backache that improved. Dozens of other menopausal symptoms didn’t respond to the royal jelly so the small benefit seen could have just been a fluke.
The story about royal jelly and hormones takes an interesting turn when you discover that it naturally contains a small amount of testosterone! And at least in infertile men, royal jelly can cause a small rise in testosterone levels. How this could relate to women is interesting as testosterone helps develop follicles so this could help in women with a low ovarian reserve or potentially even who have a poor response to IVF. So royal jelly can’t be completely eliminated at this stage, but if low testosterone is identified as a cause of infertility for a woman then doctors quite rightly reach for controlled doses of testosterone by a patch or gel where the dose and body response is a known quantity.
Testosterone has another side in fertility for women though. Just as an orchestra must be balanced and tuned, so must your hormones. Too little or too much testosterone can cause far-reaching problems down the road. Testosterone is a very good example, as a lack of it can cause fertility problems, but so too can too much of it. PCOS is a classic example of what happens when too much testosterone is in the body system.
A word of warning
Before you consider rushing out and adding royal jelly to your diet, take note of a big health warning. It is extremely important to be aware that if you are allergic to bees or honey you should avoid all bee products. Royal Jelly has been associated with minor to severe skin irritations, difficulty breathing and even anaphylactic shock sometimes leading to death. If you begin to develop a reaction to any of these products, stop taking them immediately! And do not use bee products during pregnancy if either side of your family or the father’s family has a history of bee allergy as this may affect the baby.
- If you’re a bee, then royal jelly is a true superfood as it puts you on the path to becoming queen bee.
- For us humans, the amazing health claims made about royal jelly do come up short, but there could be a very small possibility it could help with fertility
- With no clinical studies to show that royal jelly helps with improved pregnancy outcomes in IVF, then it is not a supplement I’d be recommending at this stage
- Be careful if you have any history of allergy to bees – royal jelly can trigger the same issues.
Now, I’m sure that you’ll have loads of questions, so feel free to post them in the comments below.
And, to make all this easier for you, I’d love you to download my free meal plan. Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility