Ageing benefits of bee products

Share:

Bees have an amazing ability to convert plant and flower products into energy and nutrients that are used to feed their hive-mates. These roles of the honeybee species (Apis mellifera) are probably the most well-characterized and have formed the basis of a global industry in foods and medicines. Bees create multiple types of products that have potentially beneficial effects in healthy ageing [1].

Honey

Honey is the best known and most abundant of all bee products. It is produced from the liquid nectar that bees collect when they forage on flowers and blossoms. Bees take up the nectar and partially digest until it becomes a viscous, concentrated sap-like fluid called honey. The purpose of the honey is to provide a source of carbohydrates to support growth of the newly forming larvae.

Aside from being a very concentrated and stable source of glucose and fructose, honey contains a wide range of bioactive substances and micronutrients derived from the plants that the nectar was taken from, and we often notice these as floral or herbal aromas.

Many of these natural substances have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, which form the basis of the traditional therapies, such as wound dressings [2]. Emerging evidence suggests that the antioxidant, polyphenol and micronutrient profiles of honey may help to prevent the cellular effects of oxidative stress in the ageing brain [3].

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a whitish, saliva-like secretion made by one of the glands of worker bees. It provides a source of nutrition to the developing larvae, and is made of 60-70% water, 9-18% protein and peptides, 7-18% simple sugars (monosaccharides) and 3-8% fatty acids [4]. It also contains a range of trace vitamins and minerals, amino acids and nucleotides.

The anti-ageing properties of Royal Jelly [4] are thought to be due to a range of plant derived compounds, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating, estrogenic and collagen protecting effects.

Propolis

This is a sticky material made by bees from sappy secretion of plants. It uses it to fill gaps in the hive, to control airflow, protect the different compartments of the hive, and maintain a special microenvironment for the queen, and for incubating the larvae during their growth phase.

Bees make propolis by mixing plant resins with their own saliva, waxy secretions and pollen, until it is the consistency of a soft gum. It is mostly made of essential oils and balsams. More than 300 different chemicals have been identified in propolis [5], which again originate from the plants they scavenge from. There have been some reports that propolis, as well as Royal Jelly and pollen, may be preventative of age-related loss of muscle tissues [6], and prevention of skin aging, including enhancing the growth capacity of fibroblasts, a type of skin cell that controls the formation of new connective tissue in the deeper skin layers [7].

Pollen

Bees don’t just collect nectar from flowers, but they also have specially adapted hairs on the hind legs for gathering and carrying pollen, the yellow dust that plants use for fertilization.

Pollen is the main source of amino acids that worker bees use to feed the developing larvae, and to sustain the health the drones, queen bee and themselves. Bees are attracted to plants that contain either nectar or pollen, but the most nutritious flowers are the ones that contain both, because growth requires both amino acids and carbohydrates.

Pollen is comprise of approximately 250 different substances including the amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, micronutrients and flavonoids [8]. Bee pollen is widely known for its diverse range of benefits in skin aging [9], and specifically in preventing dryness, UV and oxidative damage, inflammatory damage and melanogenesis.

Venom

Bee venom is a toxic mixture of peptides that are secreted by a gland within the bee’s stinging apparatus. Although it causes skin damage at the site of a sting, at low levels, pure bee venom has a range of therapeutic effects.

In cosmetics, bee venom smoothens the skin and eliminates wrinkles. In several studies, bee venom applied to facial skin has been reported to reduce the grade, area, count and depth of wrinkles, while also improving hydration, lightness and smoothness [10, 11].

Another major application that makes use of the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving actions of bee venom via the skin for rheumatoid arthritis. A systematic review of 11 clinical trials found that musculoskeletal pain was significantly lower after bee venom injection, when used as an adjunct to standard acupuncture [12].

Summary

Bees make many different types of complex substances, all of which have different uses in combating different processes in cellular ageing. Their increasing use in commercial products provides an opportunity for new, “anti-aging” therapies from a resourceful, ancient insect.

References

  1. Cornara, L., et al., Therapeutic Properties of Bioactive Compounds from Different Honeybee Products. Front Pharmacol., 2017. 8:412.(doi): p. 10.3389/fphar.2017.00412. eCollection 2017.
  2. Eteraf-Oskouei, T. and M. Najafi, Traditional and modern uses of natural honey in human diseases: a review. Iran J Basic Med Sci., 2013. 16(6): p. 731-42.
  3. Azman, K.F. and R. Zakaria, Honey as an antioxidant therapy to reduce cognitive ageing. Iran J Basic Med Sci., 2019. 22(12): p. 1368-1377. doi: 10.22038/IJBMS.2019.14027.
  4. Bălan, A., et al., Royal Jelly-A Traditional and Natural Remedy for Postmenopausal Symptoms and Aging-Related Pathologies. Molecules., 2020. 25(14): p. 3291. doi: 10.3390/molecules25143291.
  5. Anjum, S.I., et al., Composition and functional properties of propolis (bee glue): A review. Saudi J Biol Sci., 2019. 26(7): p. 1695-1703. doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2018.08.013. Epub 2018 Aug 17.
  6. Ali, A.M. and H. Kunugi, Apitherapy for Age-Related Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction (Sarcopenia): A Review on the Effects of Royal Jelly, Propolis, and Bee Pollen. Foods., 2020. 9(10): p. 1362. doi: 10.3390/foods9101362.
  7. An, J.Y., et al., Clinical Anti-aging Efficacy of Propolis Polymeric Nanoparticles Prepared by a Temperature-induced Phase Transition Method. J Cosmet Dermatol, 2022. 9(10): p. 14740.
  8. Komosinska-Vassev, K., et al., Bee pollen: chemical composition and therapeutic application. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2015. 2015:297425.(doi): p. 10.1155/2015/297425. Epub 2015 Mar 11.
  9. Xi, X., et al., The Potential of Using Bee Pollen in Cosmetics: a Review. J Oleo Sci., 2018. 67(9): p. 1071-1082. doi: 10.5650/jos.ess18048. Epub 2018 Aug 14.
  10. Han, S.M., et al., The beneficial effects of honeybee-venom serum on facial wrinkles in humans. Clin Interv Aging, 2015. 10: p. 1587-92.
  11. Parente, M.E., et al., Clinical evaluation of the efficacy of bee venom as cosmetic active. Journal of Dermatology and Cosmetology 2020. 4(6): p. 152-157.
  12. Lee, M.S., et al., Bee venom acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain: a review. J Pain., 2008. 9(4): p. 289-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2007.11.012. Epub 2008 Jan 28.
Share:

Leave a reply