Therapeutic Foods from the Hive: Lacking Energy? Try Royal Jelly

What started out as an average morning slowly became one of those days that made my eyes droop by 9:00 a.m.! I was in one of those scary zero-energy zones where all the willpower I could muster did nothing to help me face all the necessary tasks that lay ahead of me. This is frequently referred to as the blahs. Sound familiar? If yes, then read on for a possible cure.

Ever conscious that low energy has both mental and physical implications, I realized that something wasn’t right. When I set out to search my brain files, I remembered the time that royal jelly had allowed me to bounce back from the kind of pesky fatigue attack that hits us all every once in awhile.

Obviously, having persistently low energy can be a symptom of something more serious and should be checked out with your medical doctor. What I’m addressing here are moods that every once in awhile render you useless for no apparent reason. Consequently, everything goes on the “mañana” (tomorrow) pile.

Well, that’s what I felt like recently after coping with a stressful family situation and slacking off my usual healthy Nourishing Traditions diet. I therefore decided to do a more in-depth analysis of why I’d chosen royal jelly the last time I noticed my indifference and laziness. Ironically, the first fatigue incident came before I’d heard of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Royal Lee, the father of the finest whole food supplements from Standard Process.

What I discovered about royal jelly and the many other therapeutic bee foods is astonishing! Because we don’t always think about these foods on a daily basis, I thought you might appreciate a review of them, especially the precious gift from nature—royal jelly. But first, let’s start with a discussion of the major mental and physical reasons behind an occasional lack of energy, and how it creates roadblocks to keeping pace with the daily twist and turns of our lives.

Mental Roadblocks
In a recent blog post about caffeine, I discuss how low levels of the brain neurotransmitter dopamine may cause us to lose interest in our daily tasks—and even our life’s goals.

From we read:
“If you have ever been addicted to a behavior, such as shopping or gambling or you’ve lacked focus or motivation to complete a task, or you’ve suffered from depression, brain chemicals may be the cause.”

In her famous book The Mood Cure, Julia Ross explains that dopamine levels are an essential neurotransmitter that allows us to stay energetic and interested in our daily projects and long-term goals. The amino acid tyrosine is essential in maintaining good levels of dopamine. However, many things can decrease our dopamine levels, and one of the foremost culprits (besides stress and lack of exercise) is caffeine—not just coffee but energy drinks. Besides caffeine, other addictive substances include chocolate, which over-stimulates the adrenal glands; alcohol, which has an ether base that at first acts like an upper but once it wears off is a serious downer; and marijuana (even though it’s more socially acceptable now).

In the case of coffee and energy drinks, I write on this subject in the blog post I refer to above, “Coffee Please: The Destructive Nature of Caffeine.” If your energy levels are consistently low, reading this post might be of great help.

Physical Roadblocks

It’s interesting that research points out that one of the major components affecting our physical energy is the level of vitamin B complex in our system. Let me be quick to say that synthetic B vitamins are not the same as the quality B vitamins you get in real foods that are high in the B vitamin complex (see food list below) and/or the whole food supplements I identify below.

From we read:
“Vitamin B complex is made up of 8 water soluble vitamins that take care of several functions in the body. A deficiency in any of these 8 vitamins that make up vitamin B complex can cause serious health problems. It is for this reason that one should include vitamin B complex foods in ones diet. Here is a list of vitamin B complex foods.”

The following list of vitamin B complex foods has been adapted from The italicized words are ingredients as outlined in Nourishing Traditions. Presuppose that these foods should be organic and sustainably raised:

  • Pork, berries, legumes, lean meats. Nuts, fermented soy products (vitamin B1)Vitamin B6 containing foods
  • Eggs, dark green vegetables, fish, grains, grass fed beef, mushrooms (B2)
  • Sunflower seeds, tuna, poultry, potato, cottage cheese, liver (B3)
  • Organ meats, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms (B5)
  • Green beans, whole grains, spinach, fish, bananas (B6)
  • Pasture raised eggs, chickens, fish, organ meats, raw cheese, sweet potatoes (B7)
  • Green leafy vegetables (steamed), citrus fruits, legumes, tomato juice (B9)
  • Whole milk (preferably raw milk), fish, whole grain cereal, eggs, shellfish (B12)

From we read the following (all emphasis mine):

“Like most nutrition myths, the idea that B vitamins ‘give you energy’ has a basis in fact—but the facts have gotten sort of twisted. (Marketing tends to do that.) Here’s the scoop: B vitamins are essential to the conversion of food energy into ATP, which is the form of energy your cells use. And by essential, I don’t mean that it’s nice to have them around. I mean that without them, it won’t happen.

“Converting food into cellular energy takes a lot of steps—literally hundreds of chemical reactions. B vitamins act as co-factors—or helpers—in many of those reactions.”

Personal note: The best whole food B complex supplement I recommend is Cataplex B from Standard Process. I also recommend an inexpensive book that details the difference between synthetic and whole food supplements: Why Your Doctor Offers Nutritional Supplements. Before you waste any more money on B supplements from other sources, please consider reading this small but powerful publication.

Positive Mental and Physical Effects of Vitamin B-Rich Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is an energy booster, as the following excerpt makes clear:

“Royal jelly is also noted for its pyridoxine content. Pyridoxal phosphate, or pyridoxine, the active form of vitamin B5. It is necessary for the metabolism of protein, glucose, and lipids. It is of special significance in yielding energy from glycogen, which it converts to glucose. The combination of fatty acids, simple sugars, and B vitamin in royal jelly enables it to bring about a noticeable energy boost…

“Royal jelly has been linked to an increase in the release of major neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. Serotonin is dubbed the happiness hormone. Dopamine is linked to rewards-seeking behavior and keeps interest in repetitive tasks, and glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Together they sustain mental focus.”
—“Can Royal Jelly Really Boost Energy?” by Darrell Miller,

Personal note: We can therefore assume that both the mental and physical state of the body can be nourished with a very small dose of superior quality royal jelly! That’s quite a feat! (A small dose is usually ⅛ teaspoon daily, unless a different dose is recommended by a trained nutritionist.) Of course, taking royal jelly doesn’t mean you can consistentlyBee pollen granules and propolis in wooden scoop live on a junk food diet with dopamine-destroying caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and other addictive drugs. At least not if you expect good results.

My recommended diet is found in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. A great companion book is Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! However, it may cause allergic reactions in some people. Children under 12 months old should not be fed honey.

Some Fascinating Benefits of Other Bee Hive Foods

Weil Farms is a USA based bee hive producer of royal jelly and other bee hive foods.

Bee pollen – According to Weil Farms, some of the major benefits of bee pollen include:

A. Natural Weight Control – ½ teaspoon of pollen with a glass of water 10–15 minutes before eating stabilizes faulty metabolism often involved in unhealthy weight gain or loss. Rich in lecithin, pollen causes a speedy increase in calorie burning, which helps digestion.

B. Greater Strength and Stamina – Honeybee pollen out powers harmful steroids without chemical side effects. ‘Honeybee pollen is the greatest body-builder on Earth,’ says F. Huber, German naturalist.”

Propolis – Also from Weil Farms, we learn that propolis benefits health in the following ways:

“Helps with asthma problems, respiratory and urinary tract infections, sinus congestion, cholesterol, colds, flu, bronchitis, food poisoning, ear infections, bone healing, ulcers, gout, arthritis, eczema, cavities, [and] gum disease.”

“Did you know that Propolis is called Russian penicillin? It was found in every first aid kit (and likely still is) in the Eastern European countries where they did not have access to pharmaceutical drugs. It targets a wide variety of health problems naturally.”

It’s my hope that you’re now revved up and ready to get your royal jelly and other therapeutic foods from the hive! It will hopefully be a new and rewarding practice.

An afterthought from the Traditional Cook…

The Hive
The colony grew in my body all that summer.
The gaps between my bones filled
with honeycomb and my chest
vibrated and hummed. I knew
the brood was healthy, because
the pheromones sang through the hive
and the queen laid a good
two thousand eggs a day.
I smelled of bee bread and royal jelly,
my nails shone with propolis.
I spent my days freeing bees from my hair,
and planting clover and bee sage and
woundwort and teasel and borage.
I was a queendom unto myself.
—Jo Shapcott


To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:

  • chemical- and hormone-free meat
  • wild-caught fish
  • pasture-raised, organic eggs
  • whole, unrefined grains
  • virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
  • whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
  • pure, clean, spring water
  • sea salt
  • raw and/or cultured milk and cream products

Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.

Photos from iStock/JPC-PROD (main image), photka (B vitamin foods), AnnaIleysh (bee pollen)

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
Products by Maria Atwood

Related Topics

honeybee health | whole food nutrition

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