Doctors sound allergy warning on royal jelly

JARS OF royal jelly, the health product favoured by royalty, film stars, and millions of ordinary consumers, should carry a health warning, says one of Britain's leading poisons experts after the collapse of one user and the death of another.

A 31-year-old Brighton woman who took capsules of the natural beehive product collapsed after an asthma attack and needed intensive care for what doctors described as life-threatening respiratory distress. Previously royal jelly - so-called because it is a food for queen bees produced by workers - had been linked to the death of an 11-year-old girl in Australia.

Five other cases of similar adverse reactions to royal jelly among asthmatics and people with allergies have also been reported. Now the medical toxicology unit at Guy's Hospital, formerly the National Poisons Unit, is asking doctors for notifications of any similar cases.

Virginia Murray, consultant toxicologist at the unit, which is investigating the safety of traditional remedies, says all packaging of royal jelly should carry health warnings to alert people at risk who are tempted by the suggestion that the jelly has youth-enhancing properties.

"I believe there should be warning labels, which would be a good way forward to try to minimise similar cases," Dr Murray said.

"They would warn that if you are allergic to beestings or bees, honey, or any other related products, you should think twice about taking royal jelly. These cases merit such a warning and manufacturers may now want to consider it.

"The reaction in the woman in Brighton was life-threatening. One of the problems is getting over messages that some traditional remedies can have side-effects.According to a report in the British Medical Journal by the doctors who treated her, the woman in the Brighton case was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital with severe respiratory distress 40 minutes after taking two royal jelly capsules.

Similar cases have been documented in Australia. One report recounted how five asthmatics had suffered adverse reactions. A 34-year-old woman stopped breathing and had to be ventilated.

The most serious case was that reported in Australia of an 11-year-old girl who died of what was diagnosed as an asthma attack. When she took a double dose of royal jelly she developed a wheeze and severe diarrhoea, started having bronchial spasms, and was taken to hospital.

She failed to respond to treatment "The death of the 11-year-old urgently re-emphasises the fact that royal jelly constitutes a major and life-threatening risk to patients with a known history of asthma or related allergies," said Alain Rohan, a drug reaction specialist, in a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia. "Natural substances such as royal jelly, in which the protein content is very high, appear to pose the greatest antigenic threat of all such compounds."

Sonal Ghelani, marketing manager for Regina, a leading supplier of royal jelly, said: "It comes as a surprise. It is a fresh, natural product with no side-effects, and does no harm to anyone. When someone takes royal jelly, they are not taking it in isolation. Capsules, for instance, can contain emulsifiers. People who take health supplements would know of their allergies."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor