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Bee products have been used for centuries by numerous ancient civilizations especially the Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks. The use of bee products for health purposes even has a name: it is called apitherapy.
Honey is by far the most well-known bee product but royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, and even bee venom have also been used for a long time for their high nutritional value and numerous health benefits.
So here, I’ll tell you all about the benefits of royal jelly supplements, bee pollen, and propolis, so you can see how these could improve your health.
What is Royal Jelly?
Royal jelly is a white creamy substance that is secreted from the top of the head of the nurse bees to feed the larvae. All larvae are fed royal jelly during the first 3 days. After that, royal jelly is only given to the larvae that have been selected to become future queens. These larvae are immersed into royal jelly until they develop into a queen. After that, the queen will continue to feed on royal jelly her entire life.
Royal jelly is actually what helps the bee to develop the particularities of a queen. It makes her grow much larger and live much longer than the other bees. A queen bee can live up to 7 years whereas the worker bees usually don’t last more than a season. Royal jelly is also what makes the queen bee fertile, since almost all the bees in the hive come from eggs laid by the queen.
Royal jelly usually contains around 60% water, 12-15% protein, 12-15% carbohydrates, and 5-6% lipids. As it contains all 9 essential amino acids (those that the body cannot produce), it is considered a complete protein. It is also high in B vitamins.
Royal jelly contains a particular protein called royalactin, which is believed to be responsible for the changes that cause a bee to turn into a queen.
The Benefits of Royal Jelly Supplements
As you can see, royal jelly has an extremely important role to play in the hive, especially in the process of turning a larva into a queen bee. But it is believed that royal jelly can also provide many health benefits to humans.
This is what it can do:
- Helps strengthen the immune system
- May help to relieve allergy symptoms: as royal jelly can boost the immune system, it is believed that it could be effective to reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies
- Boosts brain function: by improving cognitive functions such as memory
- Can help to reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause
- Supports skin health: royal jelly has the ability to increase the production of collagen which helps to slow down the effects of aging and lead to a healthier, younger looking skin.
- Helps to heal wounds when applied on the skin
- Supports bone health: royal jelly has been shown to reduce bone loss due to osteoporosis
- May have anti-tumor, cancer-fighting properties
- Improves fertility: as royal jelly has the ability to promote hormonal balance
- Helps to keep a lower blood pressure
Royal jelly can be found fresh or as a supplement in freeze-dried, tablet, capsule or powder form.
Whichever form you choose, make sure it comes from a trustworthy source.
Possible side-effects of royal jelly:
Royal jelly is generally safe to take in moderate amounts for short periods of time. However, in some people, royal jelly could cause allergic reactions such as hives, excessive itching and breathing problems but also nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
People allergic to bees or bee venom should not consume royal jelly.
It should also be avoided if you are taking blood thinning medications.
Where to buy royal jelly supplements?
Finding a natural royal jelly supplement is not easy, as most supplements also contain some unwanted ingredients such as gelatin. These royal jelly capsules would be a good option.
What Is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen (also called ambrosia) is made by bees. They collect pollen from flowers, mix it with enzymes, nectar, saliva and turn it into bee pollen granules. After that, they take these to the hive, put it in honeycomb cells and later, this becomes “bee bread” that is used to feed the colony.
Humans collect bee pollen by installing special devices, called pollen traps, at the entry of the hive. When returning, the bees are forced to pass through these, which makes them lose some of their pollen that gets stuck into the trap.
Bee pollen is usually made of 55% carbohydrates, 35% protein, 3% vitamins and minerals, and 2% fatty acids. But this can vary depending on the location, the season and which plants the bees have been visiting.
Bee pollen contains around 250 different natural compounds. It is also a complete protein, which means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce.
The Health Benefits of Bee Pollen
Bee pollen’s high nutritional value makes it very effective to prevent and treat an array of different health problems. Bee pollen has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic and detoxifying properties. This is what bee pollen can actually do:
- Helps strengthen the immune system
- Can help lower cholesterol: bee pollen helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Helps prevent and recover from malnutrition
- Helps to heal wounds and burns (when applied on the skin): because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, bee pollen helps to reduce pain and swelling. And as it is also antimicrobial, it can prevent the wounds and burns from becoming infected. All this helps to speed up the healing process.
- Boosts brain function: bee pollen has the ability to improve cerebral blood flow. It helps to improve alertness and concentration, as well as reduce anxiety and stress.
- Boosts liver function: The liver’s job is to detoxify the body, and bee pollen can help to increase the liver’s ability to do so.
- Can help slow the aging process: bee pollen is often found in skincare products
Bee pollen is usually found in granules or supplement form.
Possible side-effects of bee pollen:
Bee pollen is generally safe to take. However, do not take bee pollen if you are allergic to pollen or bees.
Bee pollen should also be avoided when pregnant or breast-feeding.
You should also avoid it if you are on blood thinning medications.
Where to buy bee pollen?
Here are some good-quality, pure bee pollen granules that can be added to smoothies or other recipes.
What About Propolis?
Another amazing product from the hive, propolis (also called bee glue) is a resinous material that bees make by mixing (chewing) together saliva, beeswax and resin collected from plants and trees.
It is usually made of 50% resin, 30% wax, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen and 5% other different natural compounds. But like honey, the composition of propolis is never exactly the same. This is because it depends on the geographical location and the flowers and plants that bees have gathered the materials from. And this is also the reason why propolis can also vary in colour from yellow to dark brown.
Bees use propolis in the hive to fill small enterings, cracks and gaps, and thus protect it from other insects and small animals that would otherwise be able to enter the hive. It also helps to protect it from wind and rain.
Propolis is thought to contain more than 300 hundred natural compounds. Because of its high nutritional value and numerous health benefits, propolis is considered a superfood.
What Can It Do?
Propolis has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Because of these, it can be very effective to prevent or improve many different health problems.
This is what propolis can do:
- Helps prevent and fight cold, flu and other upper respiratory tract infections
- Helps to heal wounds and treat burns (when applied on the skin)
- Improves skin health (can help with acne)
- Helps fight cancer
- Helps treat yeast infections: because of its anti fungal properties, propolis has been shown to help treat candida and other fungal infections.
- Can improve fertility
Propolis is usually found in granule or capsule form as well as propolis spray.
Possible side-effects of propolis:
You should not take propolis if you are allergic to bees or any bee product including honey, bee pollen and royal jelly.
People suffering from asthma should also avoid taking propolis as it could make it worse.
Propolis could also slow blood clotting so you should stop taking it at least 2 weeks before a surgery to avoid bleeding problems.
Bee Products For General Health And Vitality
The benefits of royal jelly supplements as well as bee pollen and propolis, have not been that widely studied, but since they are very nutritious, completely natural, and have been used all over the world for a long time, more and more people have been attracted by their potential anti-aging properties and for general health, wellbeing and vitality.
Of course, all the credit goes to the tiny bees, who work hard to produce these amazingly nutritional products. Let’s not forget that they are also responsible for the pollination of mostly all plants and trees. And without them, there wouldn’t be any flowers, let alone honey, royal jelly, bee pollen, and propolis.
As always, if you want to get the most out of these bee products, make sure you choose a completely natural, high quality supplement.
And if you suffer from any allergy, other particular health problem, are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you ask your doctor first.