Royal jelly, not to be confused with bee pollen, is a milky, jellylike compound secreted by nurse bees as food for the Queen and her larvae. Royal jelly is known more for boosting energy and stimulating immunity, but it contains nutrients that can affect brain chemistry. Anxiety disorders often stem from an imbalance of neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, and are exacerbated by stress. Anxiety can be debilitating, so consulting your doctor before embarking on a supplement regimen is recommended.
An imbalance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin is a common cause of isolated bouts of anxiety or chronic anxiety disorders, as noted in “Human Biochemistry and Disease." Heightened anxiety often manifests as nervousness, irritation, fear, increased heart rate and sweating, stomach upset and insomnia. Anxiety disorders can sometimes culminate in panic attacks, which are extreme episodes of emotional and physical stress that can lead to heart attacks on rare occasion. High levels of daily stress can upset the nervous system and contribute to chemical imbalances and chronic anxiety. Certain nutrients in royal jelly can combat chemical imbalances in the brain.
Royal Jelly Nutrients
Queen bees live exclusively on royal jelly and because it is so nutritious it allows them to grow twice as large and weigh about 60 percent more than the average worker bee, according to “Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Furthermore, they live about 40 times longer than other bees. Royal jelly typically yields about 13 percent protein, 15 percent carbohydrates and 6 percent lipids, including essential fatty acids. In terms of specific nutrients, royal jelly is rich in many B-vitamins, particularly pantothenic acid, niacin and riboflavin. Royal jelly is also a good source of vitamins C and B-12, folic acid, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sulfur, acetylcholine, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, inositol, all the essential amino acids and a variety of enzymes.
Royal Jelly and Brain Chemistry
In addition to its ability to enhance immunity, stimulate metabolism, elevate hemoglobin content in blood and aid digestion, royal jelly can alter brain chemistry primarily through the actions of pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B-5, is often called the “stress vitamin” because it is used to synthesize coenzyme-A, which is needed to produce neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and moderate stress and anxiety. Synthesis of the hormone melatonin, which is essential for regulating sleep cycles and promoting relaxation, also requires pantothenic acid. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, has the ability to reduce blood pressure, eliminate excess adrenaline and regulate hormones, which all combat the physiology of anxiety. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid also play important roles for mood and higher brain functions.
Royal Jelly and Anxiety
The nutrients in royal jelly display properties that could alleviate anxiety, although there is no validated scientific evidence that it is an effective treatment for any human disease or disorder. Royal jelly seems to be vital for the health and well-being of bees, but clinical studies are needed to better understand its effects on people. Other natural remedies, such as valerian root, may have a better “track record” of mitigating the symptoms of anxiety, but a health professional should be consulted to help you judge what's best for your situation.
- “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”; Phyllis Balch; 2010
- “Nutritional Sciences”; Michelle McGuire; 2007
- “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health”; G. Combs; 2008