Bee Products - Pollen, Propolis, and Royal Jelly
The following is reprinted from Dr. Murray’s Natural Facts newsletter, 2:20:2004.
Among the most interesting products in health food stores are bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. These products concentrate many "phytochemicals" (plant-derived chemicals) with powerful health-promoting activity. Yet, for the most part, these products have been under appreciated and under utilized in North America.
?Bee pollen comes from the male germ cell of flowering plants. As the honeybee travels from flower to flower it fertilizes the female germ cell. Honey bees make possible the reproduction of more than 80% of the world's grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. The pollen is collected and brought to the hive where the bees add enzymes and nectar to the pollen.
?Propolis is the resinous substance collected by bees from the leaf buds and barks of trees -- especially poplar and conifer trees. The bees utilize the propolis along with beeswax to construct the hive. Propolis has antibiotic activities that help the hive block out viruses, bacteria, and other organisms.
?Royal jelly is a thick, milky substance produced by worker bees to feed the queen bee. The worker bees mix honey and bee pollen with enzymes in the glands of their throats to produce royal jelly. Royal jelly is believed to be a useful nutritional supplement because of the queen bee's superior size, strength, stamina, and longevity compared to other bees.
Nutritional Composition of Bee Products
Bee pollen is often referred to as "nature's most perfect food" because it is a complete protein (typically contains 10-35% total protein) in that it contains all 8 essential amino acids. Bee pollen also provides B vitamins, vitamin C, carotenes, minerals, DNA and RNA, numerous flavonoid molecules and plant hormones.
Propolis and royal jelly have similar nutritional qualities to pollen, but have considerably higher levels of different biologically active compounds.1,2 Royal Jelly contains approximately 12% protein, 5-6% lipids and 12-15% carbohydrates.
History and Folk Use of Bee Products
The use of bee products for medicinal purposes is as old as beekeeping itself. There are many mentions of it in Chinese texts that are 2,000 years old and it was also written about by Hippocrates. Honey was so valued during Roman times it was often used instead of gold to pay taxes.
Of all the bee products, propolis was the most valued as a medicinal agent. Hippocrates prescribed propolis<