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More than just cosmetics: Royal jelly can also be used as a gentle laxative, research finds

Royal jelly is a highly nutritious bee product that’s widely used today as a health supplement. Besides offering a variety of nutrients, royal jelly is said to help reduce inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels, accelerate wound healing and help reduce menopausal symptoms.

In a recent study, Japanese researchers investigated the effects of royal jelly on the motility of mouse ileum — that is, the portion of the small intestine that absorbs nutrients and water from food and connects it to the colon. The researchers found evidence suggesting that royal jelly is a gentle laxative that could help ileal smooth muscles contract with regular intake.

The researchers discussed their findings in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Royal jelly could provide relief from constipation

Royal jelly is widely used as an anti-aging cosmetic ingredient and as a dietary supplement that relieves various ailments, such as dry skin, fatigue, menopause and constipation. However, the mechanisms underlying its effect on intestinal motility and whether it does improve constipation remain unclear.

Using myograph methods, the researchers found that royal jelly dose-dependently induced contractions in segments of isolated mice ilea. These contractions were inhibited by treatment with atropine, a drug that can trigger muscle relaxation at high concentrations.

On the other hand, treatment with the cholinesterase inhibitor (CI), eserine sulfate, enhanced royal jelly-induced contractions. CIs work by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that helps induce muscle relaxation.

Meanwhile, treatment with royal jelly and acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine and turns off muscle contraction, did not induce ileum contraction, suggesting that the latter negates the effects of the former.

In contrast, the researchers reported that the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, did not affect royal jelly-induced contractions; instead, it enhanced nicotine-induced contractions significantly. Single administration of 300?mg/kg royal jelly did not influence gastrointestinal (GI) transit in normal mice as well as mice with loperamide-induced constipation.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that acetylcholine in royal jelly acts on the muscarinic receptors of mice intestinal smooth muscles, making them contract. However, single oral administration of royal jelly is not enough to improve constipation in vivo, suggesting that it is a gentle natural laxative.

The beneficial properties of royal jelly

Royal jelly is a creamy white substance produced by nurse bees and serves as the food for queen bees and young bees. It is a complex mixture of proteins, sugars, lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Studies on the benefits of royal jelly were first prompted by observations of the extended lifespan and well-developed gonads of queen bees, who only feed on royal jelly their entire lives. These observations also served as the basis of earlier claims that royal jelly can prevent aging and treat infertility.

Years of research on royal jelly have revealed many of its pharmacological activities. According to animal studies, royal jelly has anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergic, anti-aging and anti-hypertensive properties. Human studies, meanwhile, show that supplementation with royal jelly helps improve lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism, reduce total blood cholesterol levels and lower bad cholesterol levels, suggesting heart benefits.

Other reports also suggest that royal jelly has antiseptic and wound-healing properties. A study published in Nutrition Research and Practice reported that royal jelly significantly enhanced the skin repair by accelerating the migration of collagen-producing cells to the site of injury. Royal jelly has also been found to improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

The health benefits associated with royal jelly are numerous, although some of them require further research. There is also no definitive recommended dosage for royal jelly at present, although studies have reported beneficial effects over a wide range of dosages. For a better understanding of royal jelly and how to fully enjoy its benefits, consult with a natural health practitioner before using.

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