Clinical studies have shown that the use of natural bee products, royal-jelly or honey, can reduce the frequency and duration of oral mucositis, formation of open sores in the mouth, a common chemotherapy and radiotherapy related adverse side-effect : a potential natural remedy for cancer treatment induced side-effects. For cancer related side-effects such as chemo-induced mucositis, right nutrition / diet matters.
Royal jelly, or bee’s milk, is a special secretion made by nurse bees of the colony specifically for the larvae of the queen bee, who is exclusively fed and surrounded by this jelly, instead of the regular honey and pollen fed to the other bees. Although it is disputed if it is the sole access to the jelly or not having access to the normal honey and pollen that leads to the superior characteristics of a queen bee, it is believed that because of its antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, royal jelly has been able to significantly increase the lifespan of queen bees. Thus, it is without surprise that royal jelly is commonly used around the globe in cosmetics (valiant effort to reverse aging), and as dietary supplements. While it is still being proven through more recent studies, these special properties of natural bee products are showing signs of greatly aiding patients from the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
Royal Jelly as a natural remedy for Chemotherapy Induced Oral Mucositis
One of the most common side effects of both chemotherapy and radiation is oral mucositis. Oral mucositis, which essentially results in open sores in the mouth, can severely decrease a patient’s quality of life because of the pain, inability to eat, and an increased risk of subsequent infection. In addition, this can increase the length of one’s chemo treatment because if someone is experiencing severe mucositis, then their chemo dosages will be reduced. In a study done by medical researchers from the Nagasaki Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the researchers did a holistic study on royal jelly and its effects in relation to cancer as well as its specific toxicities to the body. After analyzing a range of studies on the matter, the researchers found that royal jelly supplementation can lead to anti-tumor growth as well as in aiding against anti-cancer induced toxicities. For example, in a randomized single blind study done on head and neck cancer patients testing out royal jelly’s effect in reducing oral mucositis, the “results showed that all patients in the control group experienced grade 3 mucositis, which progressed to grade 4 in one patient at 1 month after treatment but that grade 3 mucositis was observed in only 71.4% of patients in the royal jelly treated group” (Miyata Y et al, Int J Mol Sci. 2018).
In addition to just royal-jelly, other natural bee products such as regular honey are also proving to be effective in hampering painful toxicities / chemotherapy side-effect such as oral mucositis. And the beauty of such products is that they are widely accessible to all financial groups unlike some of the current treatment options which include cryotherapy, or cold therapy, and low-level light therapy. In a study done by researchers from the United Kingdom, testing if honey is an appropriate treatment option for chemo induced mucositis, the researchers found four scientifically published papers which show that “honey reduces the frequency, duration, and stage of mucositis in children receiving chemotherapy” (Friend A et al, J Trop Pediatr. 2018).
In essence, while a lot more research and medical trials are needed, natural remedy such as the use of bee product seem to be especially beneficial when it comes to reducing the effects of chemotherapy induced oral mucositis. And being that these are widely consumed natural products as part of diet / nutrition, no harsh toxicities have been recorded in cancer, stemming from products like honey itself.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer.Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.