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What Is Royal Honey?

The supposed boner-giving properties of royal honey are hard to believe.

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Charlie Haigh

author

Charlie Haigh

Marketing Coordinator & Writer

Charlie is the Marketing Coordinator and Writer for IFLScience, she’s currently completing a undergraduate degree in Forensic Psychology.

Marketing Coordinator & Writer

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Jars of royal jelly and honey on a table

Royal honey is made by mixing thick, white royal jelly with bog-standard honey. 

Image credit: denio109 / Shutterstock

Humans have been nicking the deliciously sweet fruits of bees’ hard labour for centuries, with some types of honey touting medicinal benefits and even hallucinogenic effects – now it’s being marketed as an aphrodisiac too. But this isn’t just any honey, this is royal honey.

What’s royal honey made of?

Put simply, royal honey is a combination of regular honey mixed with royal jelly, but many retailers will add additional ingredients to enhance their product's intended health benefits.

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Like any animal product, the quality of the honey and the royal jelly can differ depending on how and where the bees are cared for. Some retailers market their products as raw or unpasteurized, claiming this adds to the nutritional value. However, the anti-microbial properties of honey don’t protect it from bacteria, and like any unpasteurized animal product, consuming raw honey should be done with caution.

The product is generally marketed as a health food, skin treatment, and most famously, an aphrodisiac. In 2022, however, Big Royal Honey landed itself in some hot water when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found some products were being laced with erectile dysfunction medication that was not disclosed in the ingredient list.

This raised concerns as these drugs, namely Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil), can react with other medications and lower blood pressure to dangerously low levels. The FDA issued warning letters to the four companies involved in selling the tainted products.

In addition to its “aphrodisiac” properties, it’s claimed that royal honey possesses a number of seemingly impressive health benefits, such as antifungal, antibacterial, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties, and even anti-aging and moisturizing benefits for the skin.

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But if regular honey isn’t advertised as having all these properties, then are the benefits just coming from the royal jelly?

What is royal jelly?

Bog standard honey is produced in the honey sac, or honey stomach, of bees and its flavour is determined by which flowers the nectar used to make it is gathered from. Contrary to popular belief, honey is not bee vomit or bee poop, the honey stomach is instead a specialised organ used to store the nectar while the bee is busy buzzing back to its hive.

Once home, the bee will regurgitate the nectar in a process called trophallaxis, and begin adding sugar-inverting enzymes to the nectar to create sweet sweet honey. This honey is then stored in a honeycomb within the hive and the honeycomb is used to feed the colony throughout winter. 

Royal jelly, however, is a thick, white substance secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees. It’s a nutritious food used to feed queen bee larvae throughout the larval period and to feed worker and drone larvae for the first three days of their lives.

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While royal jelly does contain a number of beneficial ingredients, like vitamin B6, used to metabolize amino acids, and pantothenic acid, used to metabolize fats and carbohydrates, the amount of royal jelly a human would need to eat to see any beneficial effects means that it has a very limited human nutritional value under normal consumption.

Additionally, the claims of royal honey having rejuvenating properties when used in skincare are unsubstantiated.

But is royal honey really horny honey?

The short answer is: not exactly. Sorry. The sexy effects of royal honey are a little more complicated than its aphrodisiac marketing would suggest, especially considering aphrodisiacs are mostly just a placebo effect.

Royal jelly is, however, vital to the fertility of honey bees, so we can kind of see where the rumour started. A 2022 study found that royal jelly may enhance fertility in mammals like rodents and farm animals, where the application of it improved pregnancy rates and success rates of in-vitro fertilization.

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In human studies, royal jelly was seen to have a beneficial effect on sperm count and mobility, suggesting an increased chance of fertilization. However, there was no evidence to suggest any fertility benefits in women.

But increased fertility does not equal increased libido as the aphrodisiac touting companies would have you think, in actuality, a higher chance of procreation is probably not the vibe royal honey users are going for.

So, the next time someone tries to flog you some royal honey, first consider if the minor, potentially health-benefiting additions really outweigh the eyewatering markup and the potential of being spiked with Viagra.


ARTICLE POSTED IN

healthHealth and Medicinehealthhealth
  • tag
  • animals,

  • nature,

  • bees,

  • honey,

  • health,

  • aphrodisiac,

  • creepy crawlies

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