Bees are invaluable members of the ecosystem. The sustainability of many of the foods we eat is directly dependent on pollination by insects this incredibly productive. The prospect to be stung by a bee or European honey bee is a different story. We avoid being in the vicinity of bees and hives because of this concern. Some people are understandably afraid of the pain stabbing. A much smaller proportion of the population has another reason to fret: allergic reactions to bee venom. There are certain people who look for bees for the express purpose of getting stabbed multiple times.
Apitherapy is a term used to describe the therapeutic use of bee products to describe. It may seem counterintuitive, that bee venom can, should or would be used in a healing capacity. However, there is a chemical basis for this conventional form of treatment. A summary of the current issue of Apitherapy Assessment explains that bee venom possesses “a strong influence on the nervous and circulatory systems.” The author of the piece, Prof. Roch Domerego, goes on to summarize many other documented benefits of anti-inflammatory activity and immune system support to include. (1,2,3)
There are many anecdotal reports of dramatic healing through apitherapy. A letter published in the November issue of Natural Health magazine is one of the most recently published cases of successful bee venom. In it, the wife of a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient explained that her husband is bee venom therapy (BVT) using “reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of his (MS) to reduce flare-ups, and its energy to increase “. This letter to the editor aroused my interest. I wondered what scientific evidence that supports the medical use of apitherapy. Here is what I found:
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis seem to respond somewhat to bee sting therapy. A study in June 2008 determined that a combination of conventional medicine and apitherapy lead to statistically better results in a group of 50 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Larger decreases in pain, stiffness and swelling were one of the advantages mentioned. There was also a significant decrease in the relapse rate “in those using bee venom (12% vs 32%). A 4 weeks in patients with osteoarthritis use “pain relief scores and computerized infrared thermography” as a means of evaluating the success of apitherapy. In this case, the bee venom triumphed over a course of “traditional needle acupuncture.” In addition, in March 2005 study in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine analyzed the results of 15 studies focused on bee venom acupuncture (BVA) and arthritis. It was concluded that more research is certainly called for, but that “it is very likely that the effectiveness of BVA for arthritis is a promising area of future research.” (4,5,6)
The management of bee venom that established acupoints (acupuncture relevant locations) may be partially responsible for the success of these therapies. A study in an animal model found that injecting venom into acupoints therapy led to greater reduction in pain, in contrast to the same treatment given to “non-acupoint” injection sites. Moreover, April 1, 2008 meta-analysis in the Journal of Pain investigated the efficacy of bee venom acupuncture in conditions such as “arthritis, pain and rheumatic diseases.” A total of 11 randomized clinical trials was the basis for the assessment. The authors concluded that the “results suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of BVA in treating musculoskeletal pain has to offer.” (6,7,8)
The latest study in humans to go to apitherapy its use in the management of low back pain. A total of 150 patients with “chronic lumbar muscle strain” participated in the study. Half were given routine acupuncture, while the remainder was diluted with the same venom acupoint locations. All patients received a total of 30 acupuncture sessions of the respective modalities. Six months later both groups were analyzed to determine treatment outcomes:
- The in the therapy group (78 participants in total) reported 49 patients cured, 27 improved and 2 “not effective” results. This is a “cure rate” of 63%.
- The conventional acupuncture group (72 cases) revealed 29 cures, 40 improvements and 3 “contagious” results. This corresponds to a “cure rate” of 40%. (9)
Bee Venom (BV) vs. arthritis in an animal modelSource: Arthritis & Rheumatism Volume 50, Issue 11, Pages 3504 to 3515 (a)
Perhaps the most controversial application of apitherapy in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that causes nerve damage and, therefore, interferes with the ability of brains to communicate with the body. According to an article in the September 2007 edition of Neuropharmacology, there is a renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of poison in MS, “but the” efficacy of this therapeutic method remains unclear. ” The uncertainty has much to do with: a) mixed results in a limited number of scientific research and b) numerous anecdotal reports of successful treatment. (10)
For all purposes, there are two studies in humans that are available for evaluation. The first was published in December 2005 in the journal Neurology. A group of 26 patients with MS underwent 24 weeks bee sting therapy or no therapy on several occasions. MRI was used to the number of MS-related brain damage and to determine after each phase of the study. Several standardized scales were also used for disability, fatigue, relapse rates and quality of life measure. The bee sting therapy involved 3 sessions per week with a maximum of 20 per stabbing appointment. At the end of the “crossover” study, the researchers concluded that no advantage was found during the study phase of apitherapy. The venom did not improve MS symptoms or slow disease progression or relapse time. (11)
Another 2005 study found slightly more encouraging results. Researchers at Georgetown University tested the efficacy and safety of a bee venom get in 9 patients with MS. 4 out of 9 patients discontinued the study before its completion. However, the remaining 5 participants, 3 reported “subjective symptomatic improvement. 2 of the MS patients demonstrated objective measures of disease improvement – based on “functional neurological tests” and standardized questionnaires. The authors of this experiment concluded that “this initial study suggests safety”, but that was “bigger and carefully controlled multicenter trials are needed to determine the effectiveness” add. (12)
Scientists like Dr. Robert Zurier, University of Massachusetts Medical School are studying bee venom over 30 years. Through his efforts and valuable contributions of others, the underlying mechanisms that bee venom “works” more clearly. However, the march of progress is too slow for those who are suffering here and now. There is a desperate need to determine how and why apitherapy is effective for some people with supposedly “incurable” and / or “not responding” conditions. Until that day comes, it is important for us as health care consumers to weigh our options very carefully. Please note that bee venom therapy is a largely unregulated practice. Therefore, I think it’s absolutely necessary to find the best possible credentials for giving a shot. (13,14,15)