Royal Jelly Ain’t That Cool


You know those old traveling medicine shows from the 1800s?  Royal Jelly is kind of like that.

Usually this stuff finds me when I’m minding my own business and surfing the net or scanning a book.  This time, I was in front of a TV camera with an interviewer and I had already told him in private conversation, not once but twice, I was no believer in Royal Jelly. I suggested that this was not a direction to pursue with me.  He did.

I had traced its popularity — with one of the frequent references I get from my husband — back to Sherlock Holmes.  Holmes was not only an amateur biochemist but also fictional, brought to us through the extraordinary mind of Sir Author Conan Doyle.  His birth date, age at certain times in his life, and other data cited, were thus Sir Arthur’s creation. My interviewer thought it was impossible to analyze this compound, this royal jelly, and that since he had seen folks live by eating nothing else it was complete nutrition.  No and no.  This is great for queen bees and even fruit flies, but not a great answer to human problems. It is 60 to 70% water and missing the fat soluble vitamins D, E, A, and K.  People who eat nothing else are likely to develop deficiencies.  It is highly allergenic in the human, and has caused deaths, it seems, from anaphylaxis. It might have some antiseptic or antibiotic effects, but it probably would not have these if taken orally, which it generally is. 

Most of the information about royal jelly is available through people who are trying to sell it to you.  Perhaps the most sophisticated one is on a website from Montana.  They credit Steve Schechter, M.D. for their info.  So of course I followed him up and found out he is not an M.D. but an N.D. who teaches stuff at his own institute and provides “fun health facts.”  I’m not saying I won’t set up a way to teach folks things.  But, I promise my facts will always be as real as I can make them, although I cannot promise they always will be “fun.”

So what’s really up?  Alice, at Columbia University, does a good job on summarizing this question.  And I am pretty much square with the conservative webMD folks on this topic. Drug companies may have done a lot of suboptimal things in the name of profits.  But this does not mean that people who sell health foods are always angels.  The length of folklore around certain health food supplements may not make them as precious as they seem. Science rules.  There is no reason to spend your precious health care money for folklore.  If you have questions, ask someone you trust.  Ask me.






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