Background: Royal jelly is a widely ingested supplement for health, but its effects on humans are not well known. The objective was to evaluate the effects of long-term royal jelly ingestion on humans.
Methods: We conducted a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. A total of 61 healthy volunteers aged 42-83 years were enrolled and were randomly divided into a royal jelly group (n = 31) and a control group (n = 30). Three thousand mg of royal jelly (RJ) or a placebo in 100 ml liquid/day were ingested for 6 months. The primary outcomes were changes in anthropometric measurements and biochemical indexes from baseline to 6 months after intervention.
Results: Thirty subjects in the RJ group and 26 in the control group were included in the analysis of endpoints. In an adjusted mean change of the variables from the baseline, significant differences between the two groups could be found in red blood cell counts (+0.16x10⁶/μL for the RJ group vs. -0.01x10⁶/μL for the control group, P = 0.0134), hematocrit (+0.9% vs. -0.8%, P = 0.0251), log (fasting plasma glucose) (+0.01 ± 0.01 log mg/dL vs. +0.05 ± 0.01 log mg/dL, P = 0.0297), log (insulinogenic index) (+0.25 vs. -0.13, P = 0.0319), log dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) (+0.08 log μg/dL vs. +0.20 log μg/dL, P = 0.0483), log testosterone (T) (+0.12 ± 0.04 log ng/mL vs. -0.02 ± 0.05 log ng/mL, P = 0.0416), log T/DHEA-S ratio (+0.05 ± 0.05 vs. -0.23 ± 0.59, P = 0.0015), and in one of the SF-36 subscale scores, mental health (MH) (+4 vs. -7, P = 0.0276).
Conclusions: Six-month ingestion of RJ in humans improved erythropoiesis, glucose tolerance and mental health. Acceleration of conversion from DHEA-S to T by RJ may have been observed among these favorable effects.